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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.
Straight from the front lines in Iraq, THE WAR TAPES is the first war movie filmed by soldiers themselves. These soldiers bypassed Pentagon supervised media to share their experience like never before. Funnier, spicier, and more gut wrenching than news reports, this is Operation Iraqi Freedom as filmed by Sergeant Steve Pink, Sergeant Zack Bazzi and Specialist Mike Moriarty. Steve is a wisecracking carpenter who aspires to be a writer. Zack is a Lebanese-American university student who loves to travel and is fluent in Arabic. Mike is a father who seeks honor and redemption. Each leaves a woman behind - a girlfriend, a mother and a wife. Through their candid footage, these men open their hearts and take us on an unforgettable journey, capturing camaraderie and humor along with the brutal and terrifying experiences they face. These soldiers got the story that 2,700 embedded reporters never could. Written by
I just saw this film at the Tribeca Film Festival and was moved by how compelling it was.
Director Deborah Scranton had an opportunity to become an embedded journalist with a National Guard Unit from New Hampshire deployed to Iraq. She turned down the opportunity, but instead gave cameras to several soldiers who agreed to film their experiences while serving their tour of duty. The images are striking and disturbing. The words of the soldiers are as real and raw as anything I've ever seen. These are men who are facing a deadly enemy every day yet still do their job proudly and professionally. The soldiers do not hold back their views on the war; and those views do differ wildly. Nonetheless, they all believe firmly that no matter the reason why we are there, we must finish the job right. It was also a special treat to watch the audience give them a several minute standing ovation during the Q & A. These are all intelligent and heroic men who sacrifice a great deal. Even more amazing, they reveal their flaws for the camera, and their humanity is even more compelling.
Had the filmmakers merely shown footage of the soldiers, that would have been enough. However, they also took footage of the families during the year these husbands, fathers and sons were gone. The wives, girlfriends and mothers show the viewer that not only are the soldiers sacrificing a great deal, but so are the families. The footage of one mother who escaped a war-torn Lebanon only to see her son go off to war as a volunteer was absolutely heart wrenching. I would challenge anyone not to cry at that scene, and many others. Most movies invoke emotion by a good story or good acting. This story is real and the people are real, and that is what makes it so overwhelmingly powerful.
Honestly, I had expected this film to be an anti-war or Bush-bashing screed but the film is both political and non-political. No matter how one feels about the war, this film will make their views even stronger.
This film deserves critical acclaim. More importantly, this film deserves to be watched by as many people as possible.
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