(out of 5)
The invasion of Iraq in May of 2003 and the chaos that followed are examined in this hellishly fascinating documentary. Charles Ferguson interviews government officials and soldiers as they talk about the errant policies and irresponsible decisions made by weak, uninformed leadership that eventually lead to Baghdad going from an oppressed city under Saddam to a nightmare of lawless pandemonium following America’s invasion. Troops are sent in without any directives regarding policing or government, guided by the decisions of people who for the most part are inexperienced in foreign policy, middle eastern culture and military participation. Leaving the city to collapse under its lack of leadership, ambassador Paul Bremer comes along to make things worse: his deciding to prevent Saddam Hussein’s former government officials from ever holding jobs in office again and disbanding Iraq’s military leaves almost half the population unemployed and inspires them to join anti-American insurgency groups that continue to be active to this day. Naturally, pro-Bushers will call the politics in the film slanted, as if any documentary were ever the work of an objective thinker, but there’s no denying the power of the images and the sheer magnitude of its potential to shock. Narrated by Campbell Scott.
Directed by Charles Ferguson
Screenplay by Charles Ferguson
Cinematography by Antonio Rossi
Music by Peter Nashel
Academy Award Nomination
Best Documentary (Feature) (Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs)