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Biased to one opinion of course but still well delivered and depressingly tragic on several levels
After the 11th September 2001 the War Against Terror is preparing to move on to Iraq. The UN have sent in the weapons inspectors to find if Saddam has indeed Weapons of Mass Destruction and the political machines in both the UK and US are working to present the strongest possible case for war in the face of (in the UK) very vocal opposition from the public. With the dossiers released and the threat established the "need for war" is set and, on the 19th March 2003, the coalition forces invade Iraq. As the bombs fall, the political fall out back in the UK begins a dossier released by Number 10 is revealed to be mostly lifted from a 12 year old PhD thesis and there are rumours that the dossiers have been "sexed up" and exaggerated by Alistair Campbell's communications team without the support of the intelligence community.
Regardless of your opinion of the war on terror or the war in Iraq, it is hard to ignore the fact that there was clearly spin put on the case for war, with dossiers exaggerated (the 45 minute claim), suspicions presented as fact (there was definitely WMD?) and an urgency to get into Iraq that really should never be the case when it comes to war god help us that we should never see elected officials acting with such apparent blood lust again. After George Bush announced the Iraqi conflict over (nice call George), the political backlash began lead mostly by the media and the BBC, who, I suspect, felt a bit aggrieved about being used and dominated by Campbell's team. Among all the stories and sources was David Kelly, who was put on the record by the BBC's Andrew Gilligan as saying that caveats in the "45 minute" dossier had been removed, the dossier spiced up and the 45 minute claim just plain wrong. It is hard to think of the story because, personally, I believe it and, now that the search for WMD has been given up as a bad job, it is depressing to think that Kelly was the only political casualty when really large sections of the government should have resigned at very best.
In capturing the shameful history behind the war, this film does well to build the story even though it had limited or no access to political records and the Kelly family. The film is biased of course but it still is interesting and convincing in the way it does it; the flashbacks were a bit annoying at first but then I released that they were being used to show us that, since 1990, Kelly had believed WMDs were in Iraq and, even on his return in 2003 he truly believed tat he would find them he was not some liberal out to bring down Labour; in other words, he simply told the truth. Outside of the political condemnation the film plays very well as a tragedy the vast majority of us know how it ends (clue: the "bad" guys win) and it is consistently depressing to watch the machine crush one man; it is depressing to watch because I know it will make no difference, thousands are dead, the goal posts have been shifted (now it was regime change) and it will simply go down in history as a war with a scandal and a few reports clearing everyone involved of whatever they wanted to be cleared of.
The cast are mixed but the most important performance is well delivered by RADA actor Rylance; his Kelly is polite, precise, naïve, trusting and ultimately trapped, bewildered and betrayed. Throughout the film he is convincingly human and, although I'm not sure if this is really the person he was in reality it is still a very good performance. Cake's Campbell is typically gruff and aggressive but then I suppose this is actually a pretty fair representation of him from what we have seen. Larkin's Blair though is stupidly simplistic (strumming his guitar) though luckily he is only a bit player. Support is good though from Ryan, Alexander, Fielding and others.
Overall this is a really condemning film that deserves to be seen. Naturally it is biased but it is hard to quibble with the basic facts presented here it is a tragic film that is depressing because we already know the outcome and the fact that Hutton basically "whitewashed" the Government of all blame and put it all on the BBC. For many of us, the whole War on Terror is a unstoppable force that respect neither law nor fact and basically will do as it wants this film only confirms that and, in doing so, it is depressing and the fact that it focuses so well on the central, reluctant character of Kelly makes it depressing and tragic.
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