American Samizdat

Sunday, October 21, 2007. *
Watch, as not one American main stream media outlet will pick this story up.

However, ...`

Venice Film Festival: Brian de Palma's Redacted shocks Venice

Brian de Palma's Redacted shocks Venice
By David Gritten, at the Venice Film Festival
Last Updated: 1:57am BST 01/09/2007

A wave of new American films about the Iraq war are due to arrive in cinemas over the next few months. Yet it's safe to say few could be more shocking or harrowing than the low-budget Redacted by veteran director Brian de Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables), which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival yesterday.

Shot with a cast of unknown actors on high-definition video cameras, it is about a small group of bored, restless US soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in Samarra.

They are impatient with the war's progress, distrustful of all Iraqis (even the children) and eager to go home. Two of them concoct a plot for the group to revisit a household recently raided in a search for insurgents, and to rape the family's 15-year-old daughter. In a chilling finale they do the deed, but their mission also ends in multiple murder.

Intriguingly, one of the group (who harbours ambitions to go to film school) is compiling a video diary of life at the checkpoint. He takes his camera along on the raid and simply keeps shooting during the terrible events. Only later does he realize that this implicated him in the crimes.

To tell the story, de Palma boldly uses a variety of forms: blogs, YouTube posts, videologs on the internet and the video diary the soldier is shooting. There are several references to the shortcomings of the mainstream media in reporting the real horrors of the Iraq war; de Palma makes a telling point with these alternative narrative devices.

'Redacted' means 'edited' or 'blacked out,' and the film's first image is a written disclaimer on the screen, with more and more words gradually being deleted. The director calls the film 'a fictional story inspired by true events,' and insists everything depicted has really happened.

Whatever the truth of those claims, there's no doubt Redacted packs an extraordinary emotional punch. It ends with shocking still photos of Iraqis, dead, disfigured or in extreme distress because of the war. This montage left the audience at a Venice press screening stunned, silent and in a few cases tearful. The combination of De Palma's visceral style and the horrifying subject matter left me reeling.

Controversy will clearly rage around Redacted, especially when it opens in America. But for those who have seen it, the images of that awful appointment in Samarra will linger joltingly in the memory.

Good for BDP is all I can say. Most sane people in the know would immediately suggest that the likes of Bush, Blair, Cheney and Co should be made to watch this kinda stuff 24/7 while sitting in their cells awaiting trail for war crimes.

My problem with that would be that they would probably get off on it.
posted by Uncle $cam at 3:52 AM
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