Thursday, January 8, 2009

Errol Morris, The Weirdness

Standard Operating Procedure chisels deep into the moral corruption of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal through intense interviews with the soldiers and MPs behind the camera. Everything is beautifully shot. Each reenactment is believable and abstract at the same time. That's typical, effective Morris doing what he does best. And, like usual, he prefers cinéma vérité; he only interrupts when absolutely necessary. At one point in the film, Morris uses a technique where the interviewee looks directly at the director while examining and describing a photo. It's both powerful and subtlety jarring. You see the soldier squinting, trying to understand what is going on in the same fashion that we, the viewers, are trying to make sense of it all. But the young soldier is really looking right at you (the camera).
I'm not sure how many new facts I learned from this expertly executed documentary, but it does reinforce the importance of documentation during war as well as noting that handful of enlistees took the fall for Rumsfeld's/Bush's torture policies. Abu Ghraib will be remembered as one of the pivotal follies key to losing the trust of the Iraqi people and, ultimately, the war.

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