BattleGround; 21 Days on the Empire's Edge (2003)
With the war now in its fifth year as I write (July 2007), it is fascinating to watch this documentary of the Iraq war that was filmed in October 2003, about six months after the fall of Baghdad. Guerilla News Network sent a crew of two brave souls into the Arab street to provide an alternative news version. "It will be a real bloody civil war," predicted one Iraqi four years ago. For the most part the film tries to allow all sides to tell their stories, including foreign journalists, local Iraqi families, American soldiers, a Baghdad blogger, and in one remarkable instance an anti-Saddamist American who returned to Iraq for the first time in 13 years. Overall this film impressed upon me the stupidity, the hubris, the futility and violence of the war. Consider Camp Anaconda, built for million as what the military calls an "enduring presence" facility capable of housing 15,000 troops on a "long term residential basis." Or a tank graveyard where radiation levels are 300 times normal because of the presence of depleted uranium from American bombs (in October 2003 there were already about 120 tons of the DU in Iraq, and it has a half-life of 4.5 billion years). These pictures speak far more than any words.