The New Yorker has a scathing review of Brian DePalma’s anti-war, anti-American film Redacted. DePalma’s motivation in making this film is made quite clear:
De Palma has announced that his intention in making “Redacted” is to end the war. “The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people,” he said after a press screening in Venice. “The pictures are what will stop the war. One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to get their congressmen to vote against the war.” It seems unlikely to me that “Redacted” will have that effect, or even that De Palma is serious about wanting it to. The movie encourages you to abandon the very powers of analysis and discrimination that might lead you to write your congressman. De Palma presents soldiers as psychopaths and Iraqis as their nameless victims. The dialogue in the rape scene, with the ringleader babbling about weapons of mass destruction and supporting the troops, is so heavy-handed that it has the opposite effect of making the war’s violence real; instead, it makes you think that you’re watching a highly stylized cinematic rape scene. The same is true of all the “realistic” camera devices: they are so many frames around a director’s incurious and unconvincing fantasy. Every scene, down to the checkpoint where there are mysteriously no Iraqi soldiers, betrays its creator’s indifference to “the reality of what is happening in Iraq.”
This shouldn’t be surprising. The Hollywood community’s ham-handed attempts to portray the Iraq War have almost nothing to do with the actual war and everything to do with the simpleminded caricature that Hollywood wants to push upon the American people. The days in which Hollywood felt allegiance to this country and tried to support the democratic culture that supports them have long since past. The days of great American filmmakers who felt that they could be both Americans and filmmakers—men and women of vision such as Elia Kazan, George Capra and John Wayne have long since passed. Instead, the Hollywood elite have become aligned with the radical left, with only a few exceptions, many of whom keep their beliefs hidden to avoid recrimination.
DePalma’s crude smear against the troops is as patently ridiculous as the racism of Birth of a Nation, except the latter had some cinematic talent behind it. Instead of trying to understand the depth of the Iraq conflict, Hollywood is presenting a series of dumbed-down morality plays that treat American soldiers as brainwashed killbots. From Redacted to In The Valley of Elah to Rendition, Hollywood demostrates that the only worldview they care about is the one they create—and not only that, but they have the sheer audacity to think that the American people will be swayed by their propagandizing.
If one wants to truly understand the complexities of the war in Iraq, on all sides, documentaries like Gunner Palace, Voices of Iraq and The War Tapes present a balanced and realistic view of the war in Iraq—because they were made in Iraq, rather than cooked up in the fevered mind of a Hollywood radical.
There are plenty of incredible stories of human bravery and human depravity in Iraq—stories that not only need to be told, but would get people in the theaters. Instead, Hollywood is interested in producing only more crudely-made propaganda that fits their particular anti-American worldview. The real story of the war in Iraq remains that told in documentary films and by the men and women who have seen the reality of this conflict first-hand. Brian DePalma and the rest want to portray American soldiers in the most negative light possible—and in so doing they only demonstrate the contempt they feel for this country.