Between Redacted and Lions for Lambs, one might think the message has been clearly delivered: Nobody much cares for this genre of films. Call it war fatigue, Bush fatigue, whatever, people just aren't interested.
Well, that isn't stopping one Nick Broomfield from coming out with a completely fictionalized version of events at Haditha, the alleged massacre where John Murtha declared the Marines guilty long before the facts were in.
The problem with Broomfield's upcoming film is a nagging little fact that the events he portrays are a complete fake.
The flick, opening May 7 at Film Forum, features former enlisted Marines portraying the killers in explicit reenactments of what some call "Bush's My Lai," and is being slammed as a smear job. One group, Defend Our Marines, states on its Web site that British-born Broomfield claimed he'd show the world the "unflinching truth" about Haditha, but instead had actors improvise phony, obscenity-filled dialogue as they shot innocent civilians. One scene in which an Iraqi is gunned down as he flees through a field is said to be completely fictional. Charges against five of eight Marines involved have been dropped so far.Maybe Broomfield ought to put things on hold until all the charges are adjudicated.
But why do that when you can slander the troops? The left gets away with it every day, so why not just continue the assault?
Why, he must do it, as his only cause is, ahem, helping change the world.
'A film can have either a very specific result or a vaguer attitudinal one,' says Nick Broomfield. 'The fact that the result isn't easily quantifiable has no bearing on the film's importance.' Early Broomfield exposés were directed at specific abuses. Battle for Haditha, which was shown on Channel 4 recently, is a fictionalised account of a massacre in which non-actors play the Marines involved and the Iraqi victims and insurgents. 'People say to you, "That's what is happening in Iraq." Marines appreciate it because it shows what they went through. So do Iraqis,' says Broomfield. 'But you can't say, except in the most general terms of altering views about the conflict, that the film has had a tangible effect.'When you pull back the covers, it all comes back to one factor: Bashing Bush.
But the flight from television to cinema has already happened in the United States, where television has been risk-averse and entertainment-based for many years. Activist Hollywood comes squeaky clean and earnest, with a desire to save the world. 'We all owe George Bush tremendously,' says film-maker Eugene Jarecki. 'Hollywood hasn't changed fundamentally. But you can be taken seriously now - you're more than a lunchbreak item. George Bush has become a get-out-of-jail card for political film-makers.'Profits and smart business be damned. They have a political axe to grind.