The War Tapes

Critics 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.



Total Count: 65


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,835
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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.


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Critic Reviews for The War Tapes

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (1)

  • The unnerving documentary is all the more necessary, and all the more shocking, in its immediacy.

    Mar 14, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Jul 2, 2009 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • This is an important film, but be prepared for shocks.

    Oct 20, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Arguably the most vital and eye-opening documentary yet made regarding the United States' current military entanglement.

    Oct 12, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Oct 12, 2006
  • The film is one of the most urgent and immediate nonfiction works we may ever see.

    Sep 22, 2006 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for The War Tapes

  • Jul 17, 2010
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • May 30, 2007
    Make no mistake: The War Tapes is not an overtly political film. It appears to grind no partisan ax nor score either red or blue points. Whether viewers support the war or not -- or find themselves somewhere in the mushy middle -- this documentary won't fit comfortably into the pigeonholes of their preconceptions. JUST ONE WORD BRING THE SOLDIERS BACK HOME !!! I'M NOT AMERICAN BUT AM AN ARMY VOLUNTEER AND SEEING SOLDIERS DIE USELESSLY IS ARROGANT AND STUPID. GET IT BUSH??
    ?? ? Super Reviewer

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