Occupation (TV Mini-Series 2009) Poster

(2009)

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8/10
BBC at its finest
NeilCreates19 June 2009
This three-part war drama is definitely the best thing to come out of the BBC in years. Superb writing from Peter Bowker is what really drives it home. An incredibly powerful and original story, combined with Nick Murphy's clever yet subtle direction are a perfect combination.

Then there's the acting - perfectly executed. A great performance from James Nesbitt (as always) as well as Stephen Graham and Warren Brown, who deserves a special mention for some particularly emotional scenes - his agent's phone is going to be ringing off the hook now! The story seamlessly skips in time, often showing 'Three months later' etc. When this happens so often in shows, people can become confused and lose connection with story and characters. In OCCUPATION however, this is not the case. Rather than throwing layers of exposition and lesser moments at the audience, the story remains fast-paced throughout. At no point do you feel cheated in what you see, as the audience is given the freedom to resolve certain story elements for themselves.

It's a must-see for everyone (war fan or not). Packed with great characterisation, strong storytelling and powerful emotion, OCCUPATION is a landmark in British television. Hopefully there will be many more dramas like it in the coming years.
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10/10
Hooked me in and then never let go
jrwilliams198023 June 2009
I missed this when shown on TV but caught up with it on demand. I only intended to watch the 1st episode tonight, but I am writing this having sat captivated for all 3 episodes. This is by far the best drama I have seen in years. The story of these 3 men is compelling and powerfully written. The acting is without fault, especially the three lead roles. You really get to understand these people and the journey they go through. If you ever get the chance to watch this drama series do so and very well done the BBC for getting this made. I challenge anyone to watch the whole series and not be challenged about what they believe about the impact on war on the soldiers serving and in particular the implications of the war in Iraq on that country and it's people.
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10/10
One of the best TV dramas the BBC has produced in years!
TheLittleSongbird23 June 2009
I am 17, and I have seen TV dramas that often falls into mawkish sentimentality and confusion. Occupation however is one of those rarities, the whole drama was just superb in every aspect, I couldn't fault it at all. I personally think it is one of the best dramas ever on the BBC in recent years. The acting was just brilliant, the three leads James Nesbitt, Warren Brown and Stephen Graham giving towering and sometimes emotional performances as three men with different reasons for returning to Basra, all of which are explained clearly. They are all aided by a wonderful script by Peter Bowker, haunting music, subtle direction from Nick Murphy and superb camera-work, making the look of the drama more realistic than it was. The scene in the hospital in particular is worth mentioning, as it was so powerful and perhaps even moving. The drama concludes with a harrowing and heart-rending climax, making it an unmissable and enormously satisfying drama from the BBC. 10/10 Bethany Cox.
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5/10
Take three soldiers...
jc-osms10 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Much heralded and overdue first drama from the BBC covering soldiering in the Iraq conflict, which for me however ultimately sank under the weight of its over-earnest convictions, unlikely coincidences,and too many concessions to prime-time TV drama.

All the various things I suppose we've heard about and would expect to figure in a dramatisation such as this are topically present and correct, from Iraqi attitudes towards women, the emotional stresses that soldiers have to endure, both on tour and trying to re-acclimatise back home with their families, the rise of mercenary/security firms usually from the ranks of disaffected soldiers and the hostage-taking practices carried out by the young hard-line Iraqi insurgents. There was even an unpleasant reminder (ditto the near-execution scene) of the harrowing real-life mob-slaying of two trapped soldiers from recent memory.

There was all this and more spread over three hourly episodes but to this viewer there was too much of everything. From these three very different soldiers, the bond among whom I didn't think was initially conveyed strongly enough to justify their continuing up-and-down camaraderie, emanated just too many plot strands which served to overwhelm the believability of the piece.

Then there's the over-abundance of coincidences strewn into the plot, from James Nesbitt's character Mike Swift's Iraqi doctor lover being married to the hospital manager with whom Danny & former US soldier Lester negotiate their security contract, to Hibbsy being the very soldier kidnapped by the terrorists, miraculously sprung just as he's about to be executed by beheading, to Nesbitt's son joining the Army to follow his dad, only to wind up terrified and very dead at the low-key conclusion; as I said earlier, there seemed to me far too much of almost soap-opera type climaxes inserted to heighten the action. I wasn't convinced by Nesbitt's romance with the Iraqi doctor who herself brutally pays the ultimate sacrifice for being seen to collaborate with the enemy, their love scenes awkward and stiltedly written and played, ditto his scenes with his wife back home and worst of all the embarrassing sub-soap argument between Hibbsy and his pacifist sister. Too many lines came over as scripted and unnatural.

The acting I found mixed too. James Nesbitt (BBC's resident street-tough character) can drop a tear on demand but failed to demonstrate great range, whilst Stephen Graham as the sex, drugs & booze fuelled Danny, ready to drop his trousers for more reasons than one also failed to convince me that he can do anything other than border-line deranged wide-boy. Best was Warren Brown as the "third man", the only one to really convince me through his eyes of his confusion, depression and sense of alienation. The actors portraying the Iraqi husband and wife doctors were also fine and the depiction of war-torn Iraq was realistic and moving at times.

The deliberately downbeat ending, for once unadorned by over-intrusive background music (or elsewhere by some fairly irrelevant and incongruous modern songs - we got the likes of Amy McDonald of all people over the end titles), with Danny's pay-off line, in response to Swift's asking of him "What happened to you?" - "I came to Iraq", was again a bit too over-wrought for me.

I feel the story could have benefited more from concentrating on one man (or woman's) experience and playing up the mundane-ness of soldiering rather than the almost action-packed existence of the soldiers shown here. I watched it all the way through but whilst I was certainly held to attention by what I saw, for me the whole lacked ultimate truth and credibility.
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8/10
wish the BBC could make something as good as this.
samring122 January 2010
OK i'm currently looking at this series as part of an assignment I'm doing and frankly every comment made on this site has been amazingly helpful and insightful.

what i find most bankable about this whole series is that every comment made on here seems to be completely devoid of any suggestion that the series has an ulterior political motive, or that this is just a piece of propaganda. whats more it doesn't seem to have a set view on the war in Iraq, or the whether the world should have ever got involved in it.

so as this can only be described at the best as entertainment i have to call it outstanding entertainment as it doesn't rely on anything but its story to captivate its audience. i read earlier comments from people who think that a lot of it is very OTT or over blown Hollywood crap, and that in an effort to make the series seem more realistic they have in fact madeit boring.

the sense of realism for me doesn't come from the series set pieces it comes from it's characters. i feel fully able to engage with the characters on screen and do not feel uncomfortable, or at any time bored with what i'm seeing. this is because i feel that the series has managed to completely capture the realism of the war through the representation of the marines on screen.

this series was not done to just provide entertainment or to influence anyones opinion. it was made to pay tribute to those men who fought then and are fighting now, and the only way that that was ever going to be possible was if the series stayed true to its source material, and true to reality and in my opinion i think it has raised the bar and set new grounds for film and television making.
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7/10
Definitely good
ed-25530 June 2009
Well made and quite gripping.

However, I thought it was totally unconvincing that Danny and Lester were capable of running a successful military contractor company. Danny was completely unstable and had no aptitude for business or level-headedness.

So Lester must have done all the organizing and thinking, though we never saw any of that take place. But why in the world would Lester trust Danny and think he was a suitable business partner?

Another thing that seemed unlikely: the Americans and Iraqis were easily able to understand the British characters' strong accents (Northern Ireland, Manchester, and Newcastle?). I had plenty of difficulty understanding what they were saying, and I'm British and sitting comfortably at home, and sometimes even rewinding it or switching the volume up.
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7/10
Dramatic, emotional and brilliant
hel-893457 June 2015
I have only recently watched Occupation, despite the fact that it came out in 2009, and I was pleasantly surprised. The drama certainly enthrals you from the first episode and is fast moving so it is almost impossible to be bored. The three main characters were played by James Nesbitt, Stephen Graham and Warren Brown. I thought that the performances from Brown and particularly Graham were brilliant and clearly showed the emotional strain on their characters but also how they coped with it so differently. On the other hand, I felt that the performance from Nesbitt was a little wooden. In fact, Nesbitt was completely eclipsed particularly in scenes played opposite Monica Dolan (his wife) who delivered a brilliantly heart-rending performance throughout. I would definitely recommend anyone to watch this but be prepared for some pretty emotional scenes.
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7/10
Flawed but strong
nicklpool22 March 2014
So when does a topical drama go from being 'committed' to being 'shrill'? And when does 'covering many aspects' become 'cluttered'? This was engaged film-making of the Ken Loach style - you'll probably guess from that comparison what the makers' view of the Iraq war was. But even as someone who marched against the war, I found the film overwrought at times.

The sheer number of characters meant some of them were just cyphers, and you got the feeling the makers had tried to bung everything they'd heard about Iraq into the film.

... and yet for all that it was a passionate, 'big' work, well-acted and powerfully-scripted. The plot twists were cheeky, but it was easy to be carried along.

Oh and if you haven't yet seen 'Occupation', avoid the IMDb discussion page. Some numbskulls haven't quite grasped the idea of 'spoilers'!!
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