The War Tapes

Wow! This is the best war documentary I’ve seen in weeks and weeks, and in a year filled with war docs, that’s saying something. Director Deborah Scranton gave video cameras to three National Guardsmen as they were being shipped off to Iraq, and then edited the footage together when they returned. This may be the first war doc filmed by actual soldiers in actual combat circumstances, and the honesty is overwhelming and often hilarious. Scranton has to be commended for the great job she did in assembling the material, and for picking Sgt. Zack Bazzi, Specialist Mike Moriarity and Sgt. Steve Pink as her cameramen. Bazzi is especially amazing: He’s a whip-smart cynic who doesn’t trust the government, doesn’t like his commander in chief, speaks fluent Arabic and just likes being a soldier. There’s an amazing mix of gruesome moments and strange humor, as when Moriarity interviews his commander, asking, “Why are we in Iraq?” “To spread peace and democracy and stability … in the Middle East,” he says, to which Moriarity responds, “What do you really think?” Without breaking character, the commander adds, “and after that, we should buy everyone in the world a puppy.”

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