In my last post on Green Zone, I wrote that while I was reasonably pleased with my review, I was sure that “if I were a savvier political thinker it would be a better review.” Now, posting at Arts & Faith, Peter Chattaway has thoughts that would never have occurred to me, darn it.
Responding to another poster who called Green Zone the movie equivalent of a “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker, Peter quipped that it was more like “Greg Kinnear lied, people died.“ Following that thought, Peter wrote:
I mention the “Greg Kinnear lied people died” thing because it seems to me that this movie lets a LOT of people off the hook.
The Iraqis who posed and postured as though they had WMD? The movie’s one fictitous Iraqi general says he told the Americans flat-out that they didn’t have any WMD.
The Bush administration which made the possibility of WMD such a key part (but not the ONLY part) of their casus belli for invading Iraq? Well, it turns out Greg Kinnear lied to them.
The CIA which, along with intelligence agencies from all over the world, believed that Iraq had WMD or at least WMD programs? Hey, whaddayaknow, the movie’s one major CIA character (Brendan Gleeson) is one of the skeptical good guys! (And despite a single passing reference to the UN early on, the film ignores the existence of all those other intelligence agencies -- which begs the question: Was Greg Kinnear lying to them, too? Or do they simply not exist?)
Even the journalist who disseminated Greg Kinnear’s lies in the first place gets a redemption of sorts in the end. Having made the case for war, she now gets to make the case AGAINST the case. She still gets a good story, as it were. (And, as noted in one of the earlier posts, despite the fact that this fictitious character is clearly based on a real-life New York Times reporter, the fictitious character has been assigned to a different paper -- so the New York Times is let off the hook completely, too.)
So you have a film which will piss off the pro-war types because, well, it’s anti-war, if nothing else; and you have a film which will piss off many (though of course not all) anti-war types because it lets nearly every culprit off the hook while pinning all the blame on a single fictitious character.
Regular readers know that I usually steer clear of politically themed movies. I’m the same in real life; political discussions usually shut me down, simply because I feel I have nothing to say, and on the rare occasions that I do I often wind up regretting it.
It’s tidy, comforting revisionism, like sending Rambo back into Vietnam so we can win this time. Instead of a morass in which the search for WMDs simply peters out, we get the closure of a smoking gun, a scapegoat whom Miller can buttonhole with righteous fury like Harrison Ford lacing into the president at the end of Clear and Present Danger.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.