THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER goes behind the scenes of one Iraqi family's struggle to survive amidst the carnage of the growing Shia insurgency. Nineteen-year-old Ibrahim dreams of revenge when his brother is shot and killed by an American patrol. With scenes of fighting and death on the streets of Baghdad, this is the closest most viewers will ever come to being in Iraq; kneeling in prayer amidst a thousand Muslim worshipers, feeling the roar of low-flying Apaches, riding atop a sixty-ton tank, driving with masked resistance fighters to attack American positions, fleeing the threat of an overwhelming response, the blood in the street, a tank on fire, or the cold, distant stare of a dead Iraqi fighter. Written by
Misguided documentary is still the most compelling material from Iraq to date
Undoubtedly the most realistic, immersed, counter U.S. point-of-view field recordings from Iraq to date yields a potent but unfulfilled potential for rattling the American cages of apathy that have become our hearts in this unrivaled personal war documentary. While standing simply on it's own documenting attributes, director/cinematographer Andrew Berends does in fact go above and beyond all previous barriers any western films covering the Iraq war posed to involve us in the past five years, and for that alone this is historic film-making. What Berends has done here essentially is put you in the very body of an Iraqi citizen/soldier, as we ride along in a most intimate manner, with the family and friends of one Ra'ad al-Azawi, killed by American bullets in a seemingly unjust manner. With unparalleled access, this filmmaker somehow manages to become one of the family, and sets out to document the rise of a fervent martyrdom-syndrome this all too familiar catalyst sets in motion. Unfortunately, some of the background and casual conversations revolving around it's central character, Ra'ad's younger brother Ibrahim, as translated, vastly undermines the stunning vibrancy of the harrowing action sequences. While admirably attempting to gain rare insight from covering Ibrahim's moral plight, the film clearly hits it's stride after the misleading first third sets up the situation and characters that play in this unshakably real event. Unsurpassed in it's access, Blood of My Brother works even better as a wake up call to our disengaged public then the nightmarish documentation of martyrdom it uncannily provides.
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