Saturday, September 01, 2007

Brian De Palma's Anti-War Drama Stuns Audiences in Venice

By Adam Howard

Brian DePalma's latest film
is quite a departure from the over-the-top thrillers and gangster movies for which he is best known. "Redacted" which just made its debut at the Venice Film Festival tells the true story of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi schoolgirl by US soldiers, who also slaughtered her family in March of 2006.

DePalma told reporters after the movie screened that he hoped the film would help bring an end to our country's occupation of Iraq
"The pictures are what will stop the war," said De Palma.
DePalma has long been one of my favorite directors and I think one of the most underrated, overlooked and in some cases unfairly criticized filmmakerrs of all time. His dark sense of humor and politically incorrect satire has often been misunderstood. He's best known for gore filled romps like Scarface and Carrie, but he's also directed one of the little seen Vietnam War masterpiece, 1989's Casualties of War.

That film also dramatized the true story of a Vietamese woman being kidnapped by American soldiers (the ringleader is played by Sean Penn), who gang rape her and murder her. One soldier (played by Michael J. Fox) refuses to participate and the second half of the film details his ordeal as a whistleblower. DePalma's gift in that film, and all of his films prior and since is his dexterity and incredible skills with the camera. His visual flair is beyond reproach and I'm excited to see him apply his talents to a film of real meaning as opposed to a generic Hollywood thriller.
"All the images we (currently) have of our war are completely constructed -- whitewashed, redacted," said De Palma, "One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to get their congressmen to vote against the war," he added.
According to the AP, "Redacted" hits hard with its dramatic reenactment of the conditions, attitudes and stresses that led up to the real-life crime.

One of the soldiers involved in the crime on which the film is based, Private First Class Jesse Spielman, was sentenced to 110 years in prison this month for his role in the rape and killings.
Shown through the imaginary video lens of one of the soldiers involved in the raid on the girl's home, De Palma's dramatization is interlaced with actual news clips, documentary footage and stills from the war.
The decision to use the device of the videocam arose from De Palma's research on the Internet. "The blogs, the use of language, it's all there," he said.
He explained that legal obstacles in dealing with real people and events meant he was "forced to fictionalise things" to get the movie made.
"Redacted" will initially be distributed nationwide by Magnolia Pictures and its producer Jason Kliot says. "If the response is strong one hopes the distribution will grow the film in a big way."

Adam Howard is the editor of PEEK.

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