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

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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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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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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and mature thematic elements





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23 March 2007 (USA)  »

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when you become a prisoner at Abu Ghraib, life becomes surreal
16 September 2006 | by (Toronto) – See all my reviews

Imagine you're an Iraqi journalist who captures images and stories of the American occupation. Some of the stories show the humanity of the soldiers befriending the kids, giving them chocolates or playing soccer with them. You watch your once beautiful country burn and see nothing except an apocalyptic scene that is now your reality.

Yunnis Abbas is the subject of this film. He was once taken prisoner and tortured by Uday Hussein. Under the American occupation, Abbas is mistaken, along with his brothers, as insurgents who are building a bomb in their home. The brothers are all good people with responsible jobs and a devotion to their mom. All of the brothers, including Yunnis, are taken and interrogated but of course, they know nothing about the insurgents because they are ordinary men caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. An embedded videographer who accompanied the Marines on a raid of the Abbas' family home films Yunnis as he's got his hands on his head and proclaiming innocence--he's just a journalist. Nobody believes him.

This is an unsettling film. One day you're on the beach or celebrating at a friend's party. The next thing you know, you're caught up in the hell of Abu Ghraib, accused of plotting to kill British prime minister, Tony Blair, because you've done some work for the BBC.

This is indeed another documentary about the injustice that so many Iraqis see as they try to eek out an existence under the American occupation. What the viewer sees here is the difficulty that the Americans have in identifying the good guys from the bad. They also have little awareness that they themselves may actually be the bad guys of this situation. Sure, they perceive themselves as liberators but are they when so many Iraqi men are rounded up and questioned mercilessly about their involvement with anti-U.S. activity.

The film isn't perfect--it resembles an extended 60 Minutes interview with a man who has definitely been wronged, along with his brothers. One of the most emotionally engaging scenes is when the brothers ask if their mom is okay; they're not to sure if the soldiers will cause harm to their mother. One soldier responds kindly while another one dismisses their pleas to take care of their mom.

The filmmaker uses an interesting technique of making certain parts resemble panels of a comic book. At first, I thought that this was odd and off-putting. In the end, it made a lot of sense. Comic books are full of good guys and villains. This war is also full of Rambos and guys who see themselves as the good guys. Whether they are or not remains to be something that will one day be determined in history texts.

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