Two takes this week on Nick Broomfield’s fictionalized Iraq film Battle for Haditha:
First up, Michael Joshua Rowin:
During the sixteen years of the Vietnam War few films, and certainly no significant ones, depicted the conflict, while in the five years of the Iraq War (nearly seven in the “war against terror”) a veritable glut of movies, most of them unhesitatingly against the American occupation, have dealt directly with the catastrophic events taking place in the Middle East. What accounts for this disproportion? Certainly the changed landscape of film production has played a role: whereas it took a massive production and the supervision of the United States military to get John Wayne’s reviled The Green Berets onto screens in 1968, films like Redacted, Stop-Loss, and now Nick Broomfield’s Battle for Haditha are being made on relatively modest budgets by small film divisions or outside the majors altogether. Also gone are the days of elaborately orchestrated antiwar epics like Apocalypse Now, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket—refusing ex post facto reflection, both Hollywood and the independents are churning out economical dramas not of glossy, backward-looking historical import, but raw, nearly up-to-the-minute topicality. Click here to read the rest.
Then, Leo Goldsmith at indieWIRE:
“What do you wanna know?” A young Marine casually utters this question at the outset of Battle for Haditha, and it’s a fitting epigraph to Nick Broomfield’s blistering, ambitious film. The query prefaces the PFC’s offhand account of his service and the conditions of his barracks in Haditha, Iraq, but it could easily be Broomfield’s own inquiry to his audience: In a singularly brutal and cloudy episode of the war, a group of Marines is attacked by insurgents and retaliates by unleashing their notion of justice on a small residential enclave, killing some twenty-four people. What do you want to know about these events, and what means do you have to figure them out?
Of course, behind this is the issue of Broomfield’s presentation. In his documentary work, like Kurt & Courtney and Biggie and Tupac, he aggressively implicates himself in the narratives, and this Broomfield’s fictional Battle for Haditha is similarly bold. Click here to read the rest.