The War Tapes Blog

The War Tapes: Duane Dudek's review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Duane Dudek's review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

One year in Iraq leaves soldiers forever changed
By Duane Dudek
Journal Sentinel film critic
Oct. 5, 2006

They enlisted for different reasons and were of different opinions about the war - they mention oil and freedom, not terrorism - but have in common experiences that will haunt them for the rest of their lives and which will haunt anyone seeing this film in lesser but profound ways.

Although the war in Iraq is divisive, support for the troops is universal.

This film, directed by Deborah Scranton (and edited by "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James) is a painfully intimate snapshot of who they are, the damage they inflict on an unseen enemy and what they endure while doing so, in all its absurd, dehumanizing and ennobling contradictions.
Video cameras armed with night-vision and heat-sensitive lenses, worn on helmets and mounted on vehicles, capture what it takes to process unimaginable things - like a bloody arm dangling "like a child's mitten" pinned to a winter coat - and survive them, or not.
Traveling past an existential blur of endless rubble, troops add callous and poignant commentary, until the metallic whine of battlefield verisimilitude announces an adrenaline rush of activity.
They can eat at Burger King and Pizza Hut even while nearby, one of them with a literary flair notes, human flesh melts like cheese after an explosion. They treat Iraqis dismissively but have an abstract sympathy for individuals, usually children, who are caught in the crossfire between themselves and the bad guys.

Read the rest at JS Online!