The War Tapes (2006)



Critic Consensus: Candid, eye-opening footage gives viewers a close-up -- and educational -- look at the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq, a viewpoint not normally seen.

The War Tapes Photos

Movie Info

Uses footage shot by three members of the National Guard deployed in Iraq. Sergeant Steve Pink is a wisecracking carpenter who aspires to be a writer. Sergeant Zack Bazzi is a Lebanese-American college student who loves to travel and is fluent in Arabic. Specialist Mike Moriarty is a father who seeks honor and redemption. Part journal, part jokebook, part witness, the film offers a view of war rarely seen from the inside out. We learn what the soldiers are thinking every step of the way, from their views on the media's coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom to how they miss loved ones back home.
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for The War Tapes

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (28)

They expected tension; what they didn't expect was to serve out their year-long deployment as, essentially, the world's most targeted grocery store security.

Full Review… | July 2, 2009
I.E. Weekly
Top Critic

This is an important film, but be prepared for shocks.

October 20, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Arguably the most vital and eye-opening documentary yet made regarding the United States' current military entanglement.

Full Review… | October 12, 2006
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The film succeeds because of its refreshingly low-key emotional approach and its refusal to impose character arcs or political agendas on its subjects' footage.

October 12, 2006
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

The film is one of the most urgent and immediate nonfiction works we may ever see.

September 22, 2006
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

No matter what you think of the U.S. presence in Iraq, the film will disturb or startle or dismay you.

Full Review… | September 15, 2006
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The War Tapes

Very good documentary. Very entertaining, very eye-opening, very thrilling, and maddening at times. It's very good to finally see what it was like to be a soldier during the Iraq war

Dorianator Fournier
Dorianator Fournier

Possibly my favorite of the documentaries made about the recent conflicts in the middle east, 'The War Tapes' is unique in the fact that it has great pacing, culminating in an epic climax that will leave your heart pounding. Genuine elements of real-life pacing (without a script) are exceedingly rare and difficult to capture on film, but the 'War Tapes' does just that. And I haven't even mentioned the valuable insight into the War on Terror that this doc provides. 'The War Tapes' is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Todd Bollinger
Todd Bollinger

Beat novelist and World War II veteran Jack Kerouac ceaselessly typed his second book onto tele-type paper taped together in one continuous scroll, such that the final product proved to be one expansive manic sentence. Thanks to the graces of his gifted editor, that sentence became On the Road, the now-classic tome on a search for identity in post-war America. Director Deborah Scranton had no less of a challenge in editing someone else's vision into the stark war narrative The War Tapes, in which she effectively communicates the incommunicable: War is a Hell that continues once the fighting has stopped. Culmed from over 700 hours of footage shot by three members of a National Guard deployment in Iraq, The War Tapes smartly forsakes a documentary format's supposed objectivity for a frank immersion into what may be one of America's darkest hours. Given a director's individual political, philosophical, and religious convictions, objectivity in documentaries proves an impossibility anyway, especially considering how awash our culture is in the subjective American media. The soldiers take notice of this and the corporate profiteers, testament to Scranton's choosing her narrators well, an astute mix of humor, pathos, courage, and, yes, hope. When Audie Murphy so wisely quipped "War is hell," there came the aspersion that heaven might also exist within the same continuum. Juxtaposing footage from the frontlines of war-torn Iraq with that of families on the homefront, The War Tapes only shows us that the same maudlin spirit seems to permeate the collective mindset-especially after the soldiers return as changed men-a telling commentary on how weary and identity-challenged our embattled society may have become. Bottom Line: A stark and frank home movie from Hell-on-Earth.

Jeff Boam
Jeff Boam

Super Reviewer

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