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Iraq in Fragments (2005)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 65
Fresh: 59 | Rotten: 6

A stylistically bold, humanist take on the difficulties of post-invasion Iraq.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 28
Fresh: 27 | Rotten: 1

A stylistically bold, humanist take on the difficulties of post-invasion Iraq.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 2,161

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Movie Info

Filmmaker James Longley offers three thumbnail sketches of Iraq as the nation struggles to its feet following the American Invasion in this documentary. In the film's first chapter, Mohammed Haithem is an 11-year-old forced to make his own way in Bagdhad after the disappearance of his parents. Mohammed earns his keep working in an auto-repair shop, though he would prefer to go back to school, and has developed a precocious cynicism about the presence of U.S. troops along with a fear of the


Documentary, Special Interest

May 1, 2007

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All Critics (67) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (6) | DVD (4)

The film is both gritty and lyrical, showing how tanks share the Baghdad streets with donkeys as well as the quiet beauty of the Kurdish countryside.

March 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Because [director] Longley uses a technique that forgoes interviews and voiceover commentary in favour of observation and revealing juxtapositions, his movie puts you both in the chaos and just above it.

February 24, 2007 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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Stands up as a classic war documentary, in its unusual poetic form and by its extraordinary access to the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Iraq in Fragments sometimes feels random, but it is a well-crafted, thoughtful study of the dueling divisiveness and hope that will define the region long after foreign troops leave.

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic IconTop Critic

James Longley's devastating documentary Iraq in Fragments has neither narration nor obvious political ax to grind, but it manages to tell us something about Iraq that we aren't getting or can't get from standard news coverage.

February 22, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

By turns tender and shocking, Iraq in Fragments strikes a rare balance between impromptu fluidity and feature-film narrative control, in the process resisting both partisanship and predigested points of view.

February 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Visually, the director's flair is impressive. But Longley's clear intention of using children's faces to better tug at our heartstrings would be more admirable if it didn't feel as shamelessly staged.

March 6, 2008
Washington City Paper

Too bad James Longley couldn't have broadcast this insightful documentary immediately after he shot it in 2003 and 2004.

April 6, 2007
Salt Lake Tribune

Bafflingly, the threats in an occupied country consistently come from within, not without or overhead: what has the effect of the US occupation and Hussein's vicious rule been on these people? Offers a fragmented, obscuring picture of Iraq.

April 1, 2007
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Iraq in Fragments ... appears to be asking a simple, but often unmentioned, question: Oh yeah, what about the people of Iraq?

March 30, 2007

A timely, lyrical and candid look at daily life in a post-invasion Iraq.

March 20, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The technique is more expressionistic than naturalistic, but it makes the film far more vivid and emotionally satisfying.

March 17, 2007 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

The film is terrific at providing a kaleidoscopic sense of life unfolding, with imaginative editing and colors that seem to leap off the screen.

March 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

What Iraq in Fragments lacks in fresh reportage or sending a political message, it makes up for with unique insight.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

[An] evocative, heartbreaking documentary told from three disparate but equally compelling perspectives: the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

We're used to seeing Iraq through the lens of washed-out digital video, so it's striking how sumptuous and elegantly-composed the shots are in "Iraq in Fragments."

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Director James Longley doesn't say anything new about the politics of Iraq, but he leaves us with a vivid impression of its people, its places and its seemingly irreconcilable contradictions.

February 15, 2007 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Longley is a strikingly effective director

February 6, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Audience Reviews for Iraq in Fragments

[font=Century Gothic]"Iraq in Fragments" is a revealing documentary in three parts about the three main peoples of Iraq - the Sunnis of Baghdad, the Shias of the South and the Kurds - chronicled from the perspective of the citizens, most memorably from 11 year old Mohammed in Baghdad. Each group reacts differently to the fall of Saddam Hussein and the American invasion. Baghdad seems ambivalent; the Shias having been repressed for decades now are rising in power and militancy while the Kurds rejoice simply in their new freedom. But they all unite in one wish - the end of the American occupation.(Some voice the opinion that the Americans invaded Iraq for oil.) Also seen are the reactions towards democracy and the revelation that it will not solve all of the country's problems. [/font]
February 27, 2007
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Early on in James Longley?s astonishingly breathtaking Iraq in Fragments, a man sitting in a rubble-strewn street is heard to utter ?If it?s like this in the beginning-what will it be in the end?? Moments such as these, burned into the mind?s eye thanks to Longley?s vibrant photography, make this film more than memorable?it becomes eternal. The cinematography, editing, and music of Iraq in Fragments (all by the hand of Longley) help to make this whole package pure poetry.

Shot over two years by American Langley, Iraq in Fragments is an opus offering a trio of separate passionate portraits: ?Monhammed of Baghdad? follows a fatherless boy apprenticed to a domineering garage owner; ?Sadr?s South? chronicles Sadr followers rallying for regional elections even while they still enforce Islamic law with violent force; ?Kurdish Spring? tells the story of a Kurdish farming family welcoming the U.S. presence because it has offered them freedoms they never knew. Giving absorbing visage into the war-torn and not the actual war, this documentary unfolds these three engaging chapters that, taken together, form a prescient Greek Chorus giving voice to the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds alike. Just as in America, however, the voice is resounding, but rarely harmoniously unified.

Though An Inconvenient Truth walked away with top honors at the Academy Awards, this accomplishment by no means bested Iraq in Fragments, which was also nominated. In a time dominated by many dire issues, some rise to the top of the public consciousness through politicking. Others stand on their own revelatory merits.

Bottom line: A resounding voice that must be heard.
August 11, 2010
Jeff B.
Jeff Boam

Super Reviewer

Not the view of the war that you generally get from newscasts, this documentary takes us into peoples' homes to find out how Iraq's inhabitants lead their day to day existence as political turmoil rages around them. I am surprised that people can remain calm in such circumstances.
February 15, 2010
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

I wasn't as impressed with this movie as I thought I would be. It pretty much just reinforces my belief that invading and occupying Iraq was one of the worst things we could do and that religion, ALL RELIGION, is crazy.
September 30, 2008

Super Reviewer

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