Filmmakers Tricia Regan, David O. Russell and Juan Carlos Zaldivar interview dozens of people about the 2004 Iraq war, including soldiers, journalists, politicians, psycholgists, and even a... See full summary »
Filmmakers Tricia Regan, David O. Russell and Juan Carlos Zaldivar interview dozens of people about the 2004 Iraq war, including soldiers, journalists, politicians, psycholgists, and even a two star general that led the Marines to victory in the first Gulf war. Soldiers Pay listens to people from all sides, and of varying opinions, giving a full picture of a morally ambiguous war which is exacting an enormous toll on our soldiers, on Iraq, and on America. Written by
This short 2004 documentary styles itself as a representation of both sides of American views of the Iraq war. However, most of the opposing arguments expressed toward the beginning of the film--that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous threat that needed to be removed on one hand, or that other alternatives to invasion were available on the other hand--are already widely known by most people without having to sit through this.
One topic addressed by the movie that has received less treatment elsewhere is requisitioning--the taking of private goods or supplies for military use. The story of theft by U.S. Army soldiers of cash in a raided Iraqi house where $3 million was found, is told in a way to present SGT Matt Novak, the only soldier dishonorably discharged in connection with the theft, as the patsy of higher ranking crooks. An interesting tale to be sure, which could have even been the subject of the whole 35 minute film. But evidently, the directors didn't have quite enough material on illegal requisitions to even fill half an hour.
The film goes on from there to use snippets from military service members who oppose the war for various reasons--such as contractors getting paid more than soldiers, the requisition abuses, or the psychological effects of deployment--to paste together a left-leaning anti-war message that becomes more apparent as the video progresses. The pro-Kerry filmmakers felt their anti-war arguments would be made more persuasively by soldiers & sailors. (The directors even tried to influence the election by releasing this on the Independent Film Channel the night before the presidential election.) Yet, public opinion polls from 2004 showed that military voters supported Bush 4 to 1 over Kerry. One would have to be very naïve to think this film represented the majority opinion of the military at that time.
If you are a high school social studies teacher who just taught your class a block of instruction on the facts & history of the Iraq war, this short piece may be a useful springboard for discussion and debate among your students. But for average informed adults, even 35 minutes is too long to waste watching this piece.
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