Saturday, October 07, 2006


Through Their Eyes

We attended a showing of Deborah Scranton's new film, The War Tapes, last night at Dartmouth.

Scranton put digital video cameras into the hands of ten members of the Charlie Company of the New Hampshire National Guard before they left for Iraq. She then took the footage shot by three soldiers and turned it into a most devastating look at what Bush has wrought.

These aren't hand picked mouthpieces for a particular political point of view. The cameramen selected themselves. We watch them making snow angels stateside before their deployment, bidding difficult farewells to the women in their lives, and putting their lives on the line for what two of the men freely admit is less about democracy in the Middle East and more about oil and money. We see them swerving IEDs, chatting up the local kids, buying and rebuffing local hawkers of wares.

The real villains of the film are the insurgents who threaten the soldiers' lives in over 250 enemy engagements and the so-called service providers who put them in harm's way, particularly Halliburton and its subsidiaries, who insist that they occupy the most vulnerable spots in their trucks on their endless convoys and charge the government $28 per styrofoam-packed meal. That's $56 per meal if some hungry soldier picks up another one for later, one of the men observes. That this war is primarily a money maker for Cheney's cronies is not lost on them.

If the chow is expensive, the government does implement a series of cost cutting measures, mostly for the safety of the troops and the international workers who have come over to work for the independent contractors.

There are the inevitable incidents that will feed the nightmares and flashbacks that will accompany the troops back home. There are the inevitable callouses that grow over the tender, the broken places in their spirits.

"He's changed," confide the wife, the girlfriend, the mother
, to the camera about each returnee. There is a new sense of apartness wrapped around each member of the relationship: the soldier with his unimaginable experiences, and the loved one who has negotiated the sixteen months without him.

When one of the guys returns to work, he notices that people don't know what to say to him. They ask to see his pictures, but when he produces them, they look at a couple and then blow him off. "If ya ask to see the pictures, you oughta look at the damn pictures," he says with a shrug.

We ought to look at the damn pictures. It's the least we can do.

See the trailer at

Then go.

God, your account brings tears to my eyes just like the film did. I sure hope this gets good distribution.
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