Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Last night I watched Brian DiPalma's movie Redacted. It's about a small unit of American soldiers who are manning a checkpoint in Iraq. One night a couple of them get drunk, and rape a fifteen-year-old girl. To cover up what they have done, they kill her and her family. The movie centers around this incident. It shows what leads up to it, and the consequences that flow from it. It's quite good. I recommend it.

The only quibble I have with the movie concerns the two characters who commit the atrocity. They are the least intelligent and least educated of the soldiers, and come off as natural born thugs. You get the sense that they would be in a penitentiary were they not in the military. The movie would have had more impact had the characters been more neutral. War atrocities are often committed by quite ordinary soldiers who are otherwise moral and responsible. It's of the nature of war to turn men into beasts, and Iraq has certainly done that to a lot of American soldiers. As is pointed out at the beginning of the movie, during a 24-month period, 2000 Iraqis were killed at checkpoints. Only sixty of them were determined to be insurgents, but not one soldier was ever brought up on charges.

One thing that struck me over and over again as I watched the movie was the timeless nature of the awful dialetic between the occupier and the occupied. I kept thinking that I could see something similar going on between the Romans and the peoples of the Middle East. Only the uniforms and weapons have changed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Men are born beasts, witness the bristles on our cheeks and our own anus. It is the nature of war to turn beats into martyrs.

W in PDX

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...beasts into martyrs.

10:01 PM  

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