Release Date: November 16, 2007
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Thursday, November 1, 2007
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 I thank God for every fucking day he gives me in the corps, oorah.

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143/214 Max Braden The video gives you a sense of the landscape in Iraq, but it feels too staged.

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In 1989, noted director Brian De Palma shocked North American audiences with his ultra-dark take on Vietnam, Casualties of War. The film tells the story of a group of five soldiers who kidnap a Vietnamese girl. Against the objections of one of the soldiers, the other four proceed to use the girl for sex. After raping her, the men determine that their superiors would court martial them if they found out about the rape. So, the four of them set her up to be killed during the next bout of combat. The fifth man is horrified by what he witnesses and attempts to bring the rapists to justice. At the time, the story was considering too horrifying and unbelievable for mainstream audiences despite the fact that it was based on real events in 1966. In fact, the most noteworthy aspect of the production was the fact that Sean Penn took his role as a psychotic killer too seriously, causing one of the worst examples of on-set friction of the decade. He couldn't get along with Michael J. Fox, for God's sake. Casualties of War earned $18.7 million against a $22.5 million budget and is long forgotten by most movie goers.

Fast forward to 2007 and we see an odd instance of history repeating itself. On March 12, 2006, five United States soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment encountered an Iraqi man named Qasim Hamza Raheem and his wife, Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, and proceeded to kill them in their home just outside of Baghdad. That is what qualifies as the nice portion of the story.

They also killed the couple's daughter, Hadeel Qasim Hamza, who was all of five-years-old at the time. Believe it or not, this is not the worst part. The five soldiers found the other daughter, Abeer Qasim Hamza, and proceeded to gang rape and murder her. Abeer Qasim Hamza was 14-years-old when the strange men entered her home, killed her family, forced themselves upon her adolescent body and ended her life.

There is another part of this story almost as chilling. In a scenario straight out of In Cold Blood, one of the soldiers had specifically targeted Abeer Qasim Hamza after encountering her previously. Her brother Mohammed, the only member of the family to survive the slayings, stated that his sister had told their mother that one of the men had stroked her face in a sexual manner during their initial meeting. He thought about what he wanted and he came back for her in order to do it.

For over three months, these crimes went unpunished. Finally, a soldier named Justin Watt revealed the unconscionable acts his fellow Americans had performed upon the family of Qasim Hamza Raheem. Several of them are being held and are awaiting trial for their actions. One of them, Sergeant Paul Cortez, has already confessed to the crimes and is serving 100 years in prison for rape and murder. The rest will not see their day in court before the release of Redacted.

Given the uncanny similarity between these war crimes in Iraq and the ones De Palma recounted from the Vietnam War, it is unsurprising that he has felt moved to create another movie. What he has produced is an unsettling tale of the madness of soldiers fighting a war without efficiently stated goals and purpose. The title references the way that De Palma that the mainstream media does not accurately represent the actions of American troop. He instead believes the press is "whitewashing" their actions in order to make them seem more wholesome and heroic. Redacted is intended to create discussions about what is really happening in Afghanistan and Iraq rather than what is being reported.

Obviously, this is inflammatory subject matter that is unlikely to find a large audience in North America. It was, however, a critical darling at the Venice Film Festival. De Palma was honored with a Best Director award for telling an eerily similar story to the one he told in 1989. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Redacted
Main Cast Kel O'Neill, Ty Jones, Daniel Stewart Sherman
Supporting Cast Izzy Diaz, Rob Devaney, Patrick Carroll
Director Brian De Palma
Screenwriter Brian De Palma
Distributor Magnolia Pictures
Rating R
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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