Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Iraq in Fragments" (Documentary) (2006) - Movie Review

The land of different nations interviewed by few in a documentary is a narrow view but it is at least a view. People from various nations question the culture, trend, practice, philosophy with curiosity and assume an image. I always get an uncomfortable feeling that the projection I make of my country is seen through the opinions of mine. It is not the representation of that and that bothers me. It is unavoidable because a single person’s experience is limited, hearsay and of course does not encompass an enormous nation. Thus is with every other country but this flavour of diverse is mistakenly seen not available in US. While it is true that the variation is incomparable but the strata of culture is there in this country. I am digressing, anyways a documentary is as such though and with the trend of war, betrayal, chaos and injustice from the front of American towards Iraq came in many films. Some were brilliant, others mediocre and now it has become tiring. But “Iraq in Fragments” which came in 2006 can be said as a very true attempt in giving an Iraq in breadth and ground reality.

Yes it has people complaining how the tyranny of Saddam has been replaced by Bush’s insolent positioning of troops and force but that is the emotion floating around that nation. Also it is not used as a tag line of exploitation and arrogance. The film is split into three parts. Each part has a narration by a resident. In two of the segments it follows them around while in the “Sadr’s South” it is the environment of the place. The differences in approach of the chaos and problems from diverse citizens. It is a religious nation as most around the world are and the concept of god takes its form to the perspective of the facilitator to get their opinions across for their advantage, both good and bad.

Longley’s camera work is more than a strength to the film. It becomes a soul. It has filters and tints added for the clarity and effects but does not suck out the naturalness of its locations and situations. Either it is a protest or following a little boy around the school or capturing the plume of black smoke masking the ray of light from the sun at dusk, the imageries of those are quite stupendous. Thus is the editing and the theme of the music.

It uses the narration from the people to avoid any sort of disconnect in obtaining as much truth one could possibly get out of this wide variety of places, people and politics. In the first segment we see a little boy named Mohammed. He is eleven and is working in a mechanic shop run by a father figure, the owner. The man whoops him and teases and embarrasses when the boy is not studying well. While it would be seen insensitive and shocking to American viewers, I could relate to it quite well. Because the fear in the elders that the chance to condition and correct a kid need to be done at any cost. And that is truly effective to give a picture of the future of a degraded and destitute to them and point it out pinching their senses. Despite that the boy says he loves the man and works and studies under his guidance. Having that as the main story, the film goes behind him in the streets with shambled buildings and chaotic setting. It is congested and the people are filled with anger, frustration and in many cases a big sigh of representing their loss of hope.

The second segment is terrorizing, powerful and gives the layer of the Iraq which is at the edge of waging a war and they do carry out in certain ways. There are group of people who believe in the civil disobedience and proper election to prove their governance to the Americans and win that way. Others under a leader are ready to be kindled, lured into the destruction and violence where they need some one to shower their anger. This contrast becomes the segment with chilling images again not exploiting but giving what is happening in the country.

The third segment follows the Kurdish area and a family producing bricks and herding sheeps for their living. The spring is hiding in the corner and the change in the weather becomes another beauty for the camera of Longley. All the three segments carry a great thing among the films which come out focusing on this country. It for once looks at the people in a way very equally without making them sympathetic. We empathize with their frustration but the difference among them is a problem existing in many nations especially in India. While they loathe the America’s nosy attitude, they have their own problems to figure out before they get to real roots. Watching the country suffer in many ways and listening to the supposedly leaders, the raged citizens and the noble bystanders, the song of REM played again and again, “Living Well is the Best Revenge”.

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