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Phil Donahue's "Body of War" Movie. A Review

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Go See This Film! Body of War

Cheryl Abraham

Anti-war films are sure to leave an empty seat for the average American movie fan. As Phil Donahue stated last week at the special Seattle preview of his latest film "Body of War" movies about the Iraq war "are not exactly date movies". "Body of War" is no exception to that sentiment. Movies with anti-war themes are not attracting enough of an audience to either make money or to inspire the number of people needed to examine some of the most important moral questions of our time. In an article entitled "Why Iraq Is Bombing at the Box Office", James Rocchi asks "If you haven't been asked to pay for a war with money or blood, why would you buy a ticket to watch a simulation of it?" Rocchi goes on to ask, “If you're against the Iraq war, why see a movie about it that only rakes up all your anger and resentment about being lied to? If you're in favor of the Iraq war, why would you see a film that suggests it's a horrible thing?”

“Body of War” has the potential to move some people beyond these excuses and reasons for opting out of seeing a movie that’s really not going to be happy-ender. What is different about “Body of War” is its simplicity. It follows the daily struggles of an injured Iraq Vet, Tomas Young and his family. In between shots of what an incredible daily struggle this young man goes through to just get through the day – the shoddy medical treatment vets receive, the effects on personal relationships etc, there are bits and pieces thrown in of how the Iraq war was voted through, the peace movement, and how patriotism and love of the constitution have nothing to do with what’s happened in Iraq.

The simplicity of the story in “Body of War” may register with people who are against the war, but haven’t really formed a sophisticated idea of the human cost of this war to the troops who fight it. This movie may have great appeal for those who “Support the Troops” while wanting the war to end now.

The weaknesses of this movie lie not only in the fact that it is being promoted on a tiny scale, Donahue asked the audience to promote the film through word of mouth, (though even heavily promoted anti-war movies continue to be a dismal failure), but that it may have little appeal for people who have a much deeper knowledge about the illegal occupation of Iraq and may be turned off by its simplicity. The movie makes little or no mention of what this war has done to the Iraqi people.

Because of the simplicity of this movie there is a chance that it will catch on with a large audience, perhaps moving people who would not normally become active in the anti-war movement. I would say that this movie is the “milk” before you move onto the “meat” of what this movement is all about. An inside look into the costs of this war as it pertains to one soldier and his family is in itself worth looking into.

I recommend going to this movie but take your “undecided about the anti-war movement” friends with you.

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Iraq Vet Against War member Tomas Young in Body of War film

Opens Today Friday, April 18,

"Best Documentary of the Year" - National Board of Review

"This is a film about guts, over there and back here.

Born on the Fourth of July and Coming Home for a new generation."

Sean Penn
[ www.bodyofwar.com ]

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Tomas Young, a 26-year-old veteran, was shot and paralyzed after serving 5 days in Iraq. His story is told in the critically acclaimed antiwar feature documentary Body of War, produced and directed by legendary talk show host Phil Donahue and award-winning filmmaker Ellen Spiro. The film features two original songs by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Body of War is an intimate human drama wrapped in a political documentary -- full of angst but also humor and hope. As the paralyzed veteran Tomas deals with his disability, he evolves into a new person, finding his own passionate voice against the war. Body of War also captures the historic debate in the Congress in the fall of 2002 authorizing the war and celebrates those that stood up against the rush to invade.

Body of War was voted "Best Documentary of the Year" by the National Board of Review, nominated for "Best Documentary" by the Producers Guild of America, and received multiple audience awards at film festivals from Toronto to Palm Springs. It's been acclaimed in the media and by the public. Everyone who has seen the film says that everyone should see it.

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