PFS Film Review
The Situation


The SituationThe horrific complexity of the current conflict in Iraq (referred to as “the situation”) is depicted in The Situation, directed by Philip Haas, largely through the eyes of an American journalist, Anna Moiyneux (played by Connie Nielsen), who sleeps for information with Dan Murphy (played by Damian Lewis), a lower-level American diplomat, and Zaid (Mido Hamada), her translator/photographer. At the beginning of the film, two sixteen-year-old Iraqi boys are walking toward a bridge in Samara that is being guarded by a squad of American soldiers. After a soldier objects that they are out past the nighttime curfew, they fail to react because they evidently do not understand English, whereupon the soldier dumps them in the river below. One dies, unable to swim, and the other swims, eventually telling Anna the true story, which of course is in conflict with the official version. Her effort to find the truth then serves to reveal to filmviewers the many layers of Iraq’s chaos, including (1) total opposition to the American maladroit presence, (2) the need for a dictator to bring stability, (3) the absurdity of promoting democracy amid chaos, (4) unemployment of former technocrats and bureaucrats who are in the process of leaving the country, (5) Iraqis cynically trying to build a power base by cozying up to the Americans in order to get money to pay the unemployed as henchmen, (6) the untenability of neutrality in a highly polarized conflict, (7) oversimplified views of Americans in the Green Zone, (8) luxurious living by Americans in the Green Zone, (9) the precariousness of life under the roar of helicopters and gunfire in the Red Zone, (10) excesses of American troops, (11) the many sources of violence, including revenge killing, insurgency and counterinsurgency, criminal activity, and sectarian rivalry, (12) the futility of economic reconstruction, (13) lack of electricity and other forms of infrastructure, (14) gas rationing in a country rich with oil, (15) police as sectarian death squads, and (16) a younger generation nurtured on the normality of everyday violence. The Political Film Society, which was established to honor films that raise political consciousness, accordingly nominates The Situation as best film exposé of 2007 as well as best film to demonstrate the need for peaceful methods for resolving conflicts. MH

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