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The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2006)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 260 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 10 user | 21 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

A freedom-loving Iraqi journalist is mistaken as Tony Blair's would-be assassin and sent to Abu Ghraib Prison where he discovers the true meaning of liberation.

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A freedom-loving Iraqi journalist is mistaken as Tony Blair's would-be assassin and sent to Abu Ghraib Prison where he discovers the true meaning of liberation.

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iraq

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Documentary

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Rated PG-13 for some strong language and mature thematic elements
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23 March 2007 (USA)  »

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Franz Kafka lives in Iraq
11 March 2007 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

An expanded version of this Kafkaesque film screened today at the SXSW Film Festival. The film, a spin off from Tucker and Epperstein's earlier Iraq film, Gunner Palace, tells the story of an ordinary Iraqi arrested and held at Abu Gharib for no apparent reason. Yunnis Abbas is an articulate English-speaking Iraqi journalist - who was once imprisoned and tortured by one of Saddam's sons - is arrested during a raid one night, along with 3 of his brothers, for no apparent reason. He is interrogated and held for 9 months and then suddenly released. There is no expalnation for his detention under awful conditions in an outdoor tent complex at Abu Gharib. There is no evidence beyond a vague and unsubstantiated accusation that he is somehow involved in a plot to kill British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The film tells a story that Americans need to hear. It is one of thousands of such human tales that occur every day in American-occupied Iraq. This story of the injustice done to a single man is a microcosm of the insane nature, brutality, and intelligence failures that have come to typify the war in Iraq. The surreal nature of American soldiers chasing shadows of terrorists is plain to see. While there have been many good films about the Iraq War, this one does an excellent job of humanizing the cost so that Americans can see the destructive and incompetent nature of the human tragedy playing out in Iraq. The film is stark and disturbing to watch with touches of dark humor.

The version screened here at SXSW has been significantly expanded to 72 minutes from the 54 minute version that screened in Toronto. The director has added an extended interview with a recently discharged US soldier (Thompson) who guarded Yassin Abbas in Abu Gharib. His presence adds a human element to the American presence. It shows that while many individual soldiers are competent, well-intentioned, and humane, the American presence has become a self-destructive nightmare.

This film should be widely viewed by Americans, particularly those who believe that we are succeeded in winning the "War on Terror" through our continued presence in Iraq.


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