Could the war in Iraq be the first conflict to be lost, not at home or abroad, but on the internet? That’s the proposition featured in Brian De Palma’s Redacted, a disturbing account of how the war on terror has been ‘You Tubed’.
Instead of presenting itself in the conventional feature film format, Redacted sets itself up as a collection of found footage from various sources, including Checkpoint, a pretentious short film which constantly pays homage to Stanley Kubrick, clips taken from television, home video and security cameras, plus the video diary of soldier and aspiring filmmaker Angel Salazar (Izzy Diaz).
Taking its name from the term used to describe the censoring of information by the American military, Redacted dramatises real-life events concerning the rape and murder of an Iraqi child and the execution of her family in a revenge attack by American soldiers after the death of one of their comrades. Neither event is portrayed in too much detail, but Redacted’s innovative use of digital video challenges the viewer to admit that such material does exist.
Frequently attacked by those who claim misogyny in his work, De Palma pulls no punches in locating his heart of darkness squarely in the libido of Uncle Sam. Through two villainous characters, Reno Flake (Patrick Carroll) and BB Rush (Daniel Stewart Sherman), Redacted demonstrates how sexual frustration leads to the soldier’s crime, then shows how Angel and his feckless platoon are bullied into compliance with the phrase, ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?’.
Cloverfield and soon-to-be-remade Spanish horror [REC] may have been widely heralded as originating first person cinema, but the multiple points-of-view in Redacted (which won him the Silver Lion at Venice Film Festival last August) have clearly reinvigorated De Palma after his The Black Dahlia misfire, returning him to the jet-black social-satire that characterised his early 1970s films, Greetings and Hi Mom! Redacted’s skilful use of a fragmented style not only allows the director to take crude but trenchant pot-shots against the military, but also the media and feminism; much the same targets he was addressing 40 years ago at the height of the Vietnam War.
Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow and selected release from Fri 14 Mar.