War film’s portrayal of soldiers draws fire from GOP lawmaker
The ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America on Nov. 21 calling the new Iraq war film “Redacted” shameful in its view of U.S. soldiers.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, sent a scathing letter regarding Brian De Palma’s new film to MPAA Chairman Dan Glickman asking that he not forget that there are heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the United States and Iraqi people.
“Unfortunately, Brian De Palma’s new movie ‘Redacted,’ which opened in several theaters this week, portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals,” Mr. Hunter stated in his letter to Mr. Glickman. “While incidents of criminal behavior by members of our military should never be ignored, the isolated incident on which this film is based negatively portrays American service personnel and misrepresents their collective efforts in Iraq.”
Mr. Glickman, a former Democratic congressman and agriculture secretary, could not be reached for comment.
The Department of Defense, which often assists filmmakers with military-related stories, did not participate in the making of Mr. De Palma’s film.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said, “We don’t comment on productions with which we have no involvement.”
Other military officials worry that the film could be used as propaganda against troops in the region and incite violence against them by Islamist groups.
Mr. De Palma’s film, which is based on a case of U.S. soldiers raping a teenage girl and killing her family, portrays troops as callous to the plight of civilians in the war zone, critics state. The real-life incident in Mahmoudiya on which the film is based has resulted in several courts-martial, lengthy prison terms and a possible federal execution.
Last week, while U.S. troops were handing out toys to Iraqi children they were attacked by a suicide bomber, killing three U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi children.
“This incident, while tragic, demonstrates the goodness and generosity of our nation’s military, and its continued mission in Iraq,” Mr. Hunter said, reminding Mr. Glickman and Mr. De Palma of the continuing sacrifices U.S. troops have made.
Mr. Hunter’s letter isn’t the first criticism of Mr. De Palma’s film. Some film critics have noted that the director’s own opposition to the U.S.led war in Iraq gets in the story’s way and makes it impossible for him to live up to his other legendary pic- tures, such as “Scarface,” “Carrie” and “The Untouchables.” It has scored only 46 percent “positive” reviews from the nation’s film critics at the Rotten Tomatoes roundup Web site (www.rottentomatoes.com).
“The film intentionally fails to show or give any indication of the more than 3 million inoculations administered by American forces, the construction of medical clinics and schools, as well as the construction of other important infrastructure,” the letter went on to state. “Addi- tionally, the film’s negative depiction of our military blatantly ignores the many acts of heroism performed by our soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors in Iraq.”
Mr. De Palma, however, defended his movie and its long-term reception at the Toronto Film Festival in September, telling the Canadian Press that, “all this criticism and attack comes because that’s what’s politically correct at the time. [. . .] Now a movie that was reviled when it came out — like ‘Scarface’ — is considered some kind of iconic classic.”
Congressman vs. Director:
Rep. Duncan Hunter of California (left), ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to “Redacted” director Brian De Palma (right) criticizing his Iraq war film.