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The Marines of Echo Company
American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country.
Iraq in Fragments illuminates post-war Iraq in three acts, building a picture of a country pulled in different directions by religion and ethnicity. Filmed in verité style with no scripted narration, the film explores the lives of ordinary Iraqis to illustrate and give background to larger trends in Iraqi society. Written by
Iraq as refracted in practically all American media is not Iraq per se, but America in Iraq. "Gunner's Palace," for instance, isn't about Iraq, but about how some metal-head American soldiers experience it. The so-called "news" about Iraq is served up by a press core which barely ventures outside the Green Zone, let alone Baghdad. Which is what makes this movie so outstanding.
You sit there and wonder, "How did they ever get this footage?" Gunfire pops in the background, buildings burn, women and children run for cover. You're thrown into the midst of al Sadr's mobs, self-flagellating to the point of drawing blood, droning in unison like a headless monster, and descending on a market, beating the men in its path indiscriminately. It's so raw, so unedited, so slice-of-life, in other words, utterly unlike the self-referential media-for-media's sake, the prepackaged rant and cant of news-speak served up daily by the likes CNN, NPR, and the NY Times.
The movie has a well-thought out unity, a message not reducible to the congealed positions of the media, thus invisible to it. One unifying theme, for example, is democracy, vilified by the Islamisists, dreamt about by the Kurds. But because there's no narration, no talking heads, the connections come unannounced, naturally, as in life.
The disparate lives of children, Sunni and Kurdish, bookend the movie, start and end it. The children speak in unadorned poetry.
Please, by all means, seek out this film, see it for yourself, if possible without preconception, and make up your own mind.
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