Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
 
search SGN
Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
click to go to click to visit advertiser's website


 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

Cost of the
War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
 

 

 

click to go to advertisers website
 
Watching Full Battle
Watching Full Battle
by Scott Rice, SGN reviewer

Rattle, the award winning documentary directed by Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss, was the strangest cinematic experience I've had in some time. It forced me to reconsider everything I thought I knew about the reality of war. The film documents the U.S. Army's billion dollar 100 square mile virtual Iraq built in the Mohave Desert forty miles from Barstow, California. The training complex includes 13 villages, two news networks, a military support city of 15,000 and employs hundreds of Iraqi American actors. The narrative follows Lt. Col. Robert McLaughlin and the battalion he commands as they work to bring peace and stability to the ersatz Iraqi village of Medina Wasl.

The scripted scenarios are written and produced by a team of military and civilian planners aptly named The Lizard Team. The Lizard Team sits around a tidy conference table deciding the fate of the players like a panel of petty Greek gods, only less interesting. The scenarios consist of loose storylines designed to test the soldiers and evaluate their unscripted responses. Fiction overlaps reality as the battalion experiences stages of conflict that eerily mimic past events in Iraq: Occupation, insurgency, counter-insurgency, collateral damage, civil war, and reconstruction. The main difference between the real conflict in Iraq and the simulated conflict in the California desert is in the scenes depicting the withdrawal of military forces amid the chaos of a failed mission. Anyone care to place bets how the real thing plays out?

The Iraqi American players receive their character's identities from The Lizard Team on sheets of paper listing ethnic and religious background and a brief bio. Bassam Kalasho plays the Deputy Mayor of Medina Wasl, a Shiite in a predominantly Sunni town. In a funny moment he laments the fact that he's been the Deputy Mayor for three years without moving up to Mayor. The scene seems even weirder when you see him later in his real life as a liquor store clerk in San Diego. The game Iraqi actors work hard (not surprising since many are waiting for word about their immigration status) but in the end seem like an odd iteration of Saturday Night Live's Not Ready for Prime Time Players.

Insurgents are portrayed by American soldiers, many of whom have returned from the real war. They take on the bad guy roles with relish and vigor, eventually dealing a devastating blow to the battalion resulting in many faux causalities and fake deaths. Watching the American soldiers getting into character made me consider how choosing sides in a conflict with a vague enemy and an undefined measure of victory can be a difficult and somewhat arbitrary proposition.

Near the end of the operation, the battalion gets the news that they'll soon be heading to Iraq. For Sgt. Paul Green, this will be his third tour of duty. His reaction brings the fictional conflict into sharp perspective as he calls his wife to tell her he'll be returning to Iraq for a third time. Moments like this are what make Full Battle Rattle a powerful documentary. As fiction and reality play off one another it's like looking at a mirror submerged in flowing water. This documentary is unlike any film I've ever seen and I could go on writing about it for twenty more pages. But don't worry, I won't.

In the final act, the players withdraw from the simulation. We follow the Iraqi American actors and the soldiers back to their real lives. The actors return to mundane lives in San Diego dreaming of an Iraq that doesn't exist anymore. The soldiers return to Fort Bliss and, in scenes that made me weep, spend time with their families before going off to war.

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog



: http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS?
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2008

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News