Directed by: Brian De Palma
Premise: A fictionalized account of a United States army squad in Iraq that massacred a family and raped a teenage girl.
What Works: The way Redacted is told is very innovative. Rather than following the characters around with an omniscient camera, Redacted uses source material, assembling the story through a soldier’s video diary, news reports, security camera footage, and online videos. The transition between these sources is surprisingly smooth and the cumulative result is a film that plays like Causalities of War meets Cannibal Holocaust or The Blair Witch Project. This combination is effective and it speaks to the way in which we consume and react to information about the outside world, and especially how coverage of the Iraq War has been disseminated.
What Doesn’t: Although it may seem strange to say this about a film with such a grave subject matter, Redacted does get a bit heavy handed in parts, especially in its score which goes for intrusive melodrama when a subtle sound would have complemented the visuals more effectively. The larger trouble of the film is trying to deduce a message or point to the film, aside from the obvious statement about the brutality of war and the ugliness of sexual abuse. In its form, the film attempts to capture the experience of the Iraq War both for these soldiers and for the culture, and to some extent it accomplishes that. Still, the film is like many other Iraq and post-September 11th films, in that it does not seem to have much perspective on its subject.
Bottom Line: Redacted is a bold film and it is certainly a unique attempt to distill the Iraq War into a single narrative. The Apocalypse Now or Platoon of this war is yet to be made but for now Redacted stands as one of the defining pictures about Iraq War.
Episode: #169 (December 9, 2007)