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Part contemporary investigation and part historical inquiry, documentary follows the quest of one journalist in search of justice. The film focuses on Christopher Hitchens' charges against Henry Kissinger as a war criminal - allegations documented in Hitchens' book of the same title - based on his role in countries such as Cambodia, Chile, and Indonesia. Kissinger's story raises profound questions about American foreign policy and highlights a new era of human rights. Increasing evidence about one man's role in a long history of human rights abuses leads to a critical examination of American diplomacy through the lens of international standards of justice. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
How ironic that a movie that takes its name and basic thesis from the work of Christopher Hitchens and features interviews with Hitchens should go against all that Hitchens represents. I urge anyone who sees Thr Trials of Henry Kissinger to read Hitchens' review of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (http://slate.msn.com/id/2102723/) to get a real sense of what Hitchens believes about propaganda films. What would he make, for example, of the juxtaposition of Kissinger with Hess, Pinochet and other murderous dictators. I would further recommend the superior documentary The Fog of War to shed just a tiny bit of light on the context in which these alleged war crimes occurred. This is not to diminish the excellent work Hitchens did in chronicling U.S. foreign policy, just to make the point that this doc would have been improved if the director stuck with Hitchens and didn't go off on all these tangents. It is telling how enthralled these directors were with their alternative cult of personality that they should try to bring down Kissinger with their own charismatic nutbar Michael Tigar. Tigar has little to say about Kissinger, but weaves a wonderful, if loaded, story about Pinochet's arrest by a London bobby. You can almost see the spittle forming at the mouth of this man, which kind of gives away all sense of objectivity the filmmakers might have had. We're going after right-wing political figures and we'll use all tools at our disposal to make the case. Never mind that Tigar's story has nothing to do with Kissinger, except to suggest this is the time to nail him. Never mind if we use pop songs (Mr. Bigstuff. No really, very subtle), rapid-fire editing of war images to illustrate points about diplomacy, the whole bag of tricks. I half expected a stuttering Charlton Heston to appear and defend Kissinger, although Alexander Haig is a good substitute. Note to documentarians: leave your agendas at the door. The only people who will be swayed by your pastiche storytelling techniques are the converted and the ignorant, everyone else can see right through you, even if they lack the sophistication to pinpoint their skepticism. Countering propaganda with more propaganda brings your arguments down to the level of propaganda. While I realize telling stories about people who won't co-operate with you is difficult, that does not make it right to sweep their side under the carpet.
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