NEW BOOK EXAMINES TRUE STORY; A.O. SCOTT ON APOLITICAL WAR FILMS, MORE...
A new book out today by TIME magazine's Jim Frederick examines the real life story of the soldiers whose actions inspired the Brian De Palma film Redacted. Frederick's Black Hearts draws on interviews with soldiers from the unit known as "the Black Heart Brigade," with a critical eye toward the leadership, or lack thereof, involved in the soldiers' day-to-day activities. The book, subtitled "One Platoon's Descent Into Madness In Iraq's Triangle Of Death," does not mention De Palma's film. TIME magazine is running two excerpts this week: "The Downward Spiral of Private Steven Green", and "Anatomy of an Iraq War Crime".
Meanwhile, over the weekend, the New York Times' A. O. Scott posted an essay about the apolitical approach to the Iraq and Afghansitan wars taken by Kathryn Bigelow and others. Scott notes the cluster of war films from 2007 that dared to deal with the politics involved:
There have been some exceptions to this rule. Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” and Paul Haggis’s “In the Valley of Elah,” released in fall 2007, questioned the war in Iraq, one in anger and the other in sorrow and both with emphasis on the effects of the fighting on men in the field. Other films from that year, like Robert Redford’s “Lions for Lambs” and Gavin Hood’s “Rendition,” tried to dramatize debates then unfolding in the public sphere about the justice or prudence of American policy. None of these movies were particularly successful, either with audiences or in their earnest, cautious attempts to frame the issues of post-9/11 geopolitics.
It may be that movies, at least as they are currently made and consumed, can’t bridge the gulf between the theater of war and the arena of politics. It is also probably true that the soldiers who are the main characters in fictional and nonfictional war movies don’t talk much about the larger context in which they struggle to survive and get the job done.
BLOGGER CALLS OUT REDACTED FOR PARTNERING WITH MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS
Speaking of the politics involved in Redacted, Screen Addict takes De Palma and company to task for the film's product placement deals:
Most notable among the ‘Product Placement Thanks’ is Nokia, a long-term army supplier across the world and a recent industrial partner of Siemens, a company notorious for their operation of factories which were converted into Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. More pertinent to the Middle East, however, is a Nokia-Siemens partnership which sparked controversy – albeit since the release of Redacted – for its plans to provide Iran with telecommunication systems that would allow unprecedented monitoring of its already repressed citizens.
All this is not to suggest that films should be made without the assistance of these companies, or that we should somehow boycott every product that has an investment in the military-industrial complex, these are businesses after all, and military is big, big business.
But with Redacted, Brian De Palma (and his Producers) seem to be taking goods and/or money from such organisations on the one hand, and seeming to preach against the interests of these organisations on the other. Call it an act of subversion if you will, but it seems to be just another symptom of the confused creative approach to a frequently confusing war.