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.
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Critic Reviews for The War Tapes
The unnerving documentary is all the more necessary, and all the more shocking, in its immediacy.
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.
This is an important film, but be prepared for shocks.
Arguably the most vital and eye-opening documentary yet made regarding the United States' current military entanglement.
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.
Audience Reviews for The War Tapes
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.
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