What can I say about this film? It presents a rather compelling dissection of the case for war in Iraq and its fallacies that the Bush Administration laid out in the days and weeks leading to the invasion. It features a collection of experts, from Robert Baer, a former CIA operative who worked in Iraq and Lebanon for more than 20 years; to Graham Fuller, the former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA.
However, as compelling as the information is in this documentary, the rather transparent goal of the film — to systematically attack the Bush Administration’s policies regarding Iraq — only serves to hurt the effectiveness of it.
Directed and produced by Robert Greenwald, it was originally created as a short film in 2003. It wasn’t until during and after the “war in Iraq” that Greenwald elected to go back and expand it into a feature-length documentary.
Consisting largely of a series of interviews, it features a scattering of clips from different news sources highlighting speeches and television interviews of the Bush Administration’s top members, such as the President, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and so forth. They’re edited to highlight the scare tactics and misleading statement they made leading to the invasion of Iraq, a majority of which have since been proven false.
But, as much as I found myself agreeing with what the film said, I could not separate myself from the pure propaganda that it represented. For as much as I may find a blindly pro-Bush “documentary” a form of spin, so was this production.
All the experts aside, it made very little attempt to honestly or appropriately present the opposing view. Aside from the edited clips, compiled in a manner to only emphasis the ridiculousness of them, not one “expert” or person interviewed makes any attempt to explore the opposite side’s view or opinion.
I suppose one could argue that this in itself helps support the film, but that would be rather inaccurate and arrogant. The problem here is when a filmmaker attempts to promote his own form of propaganda as a documentary, when it is not. The goal of the film is to attack, and never makes any serious attempt to be balanced.
While I criticize this film, I also stress that I do not disagree with the content. The information contained within is important. My concern is with the presentation, and I urge anyone who watches this film to make an attempt to learn the other side’s view.
The DVD of this film was accompanied by a short documentary called, Soldier’s Pay, by filmmaker David O. Russell (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees). You can read that review here.