Battle for Haditha
Scottish documentary-maker Kevin Macdonald found when tackling Middle Eastern politics, as he did so memorably with One Day in September, that no matter how even-handed your approach, there’s little chance of pleasing any of the people any of the time. If Nick Broomfield thought he could avoid the various combatants’ brickbats by making a drama rather than a documentary on the strife in Iraq, he’ll no doubt be proved sadly mistaken. The fact that ‘soldiers’ on both sides are allowed access to some sense of humanity with guilt etched on their faces will do little to appease Broomfield’s critics.
Battle for Haditha takes the full horror of the American project in Iraq and pulls it together within atrocities which occurred in November 2005. When insurgents detonated an IED (improvised explosive device), killing one marine, the surviving US forces knee-jerked with an avalanche of frenzied vengeance leaving 24 mainly elderly and young, innocent Iraqis murdered. An Iraqi journalism student who filmed the bloodied aftermath exposed the subsequent cover-up.
Broomfield certainly has an eye for an image, with the under-the-bed point-of-view shot of rifle shells scattering around an unidentified marine’s boots particularly beautiful/ugly. But his determination to draw as many comparisons as possible between the invaders and insurgents goes overboard and sheds no real light on the travesty of warfare.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 7–Mon 10 Mar.