Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brian De Palma|
|Produced by||Laird Adamson
Mark Cuban (executive)
Todd Wagner (executive)
|Written by||Brian De Palma|
Daniel Stewart Sherman
|Edited by||Bill Pankow|
|Distributed by||Magnolia Pictures|
|Running time||90 minutes|
Redacted is a 2007 American war film written and directed by Brian De Palma. It is a fictional dramatization, loosely based on the 2006 Mahmudiyah killings in Mahmoudiyah, Iraq, when U.S. Army soldiers raped an Iraqi girl and murdered her along with her family. This film, which is a companion to an earlier film by De Palma, 1989's Casualties of War, was shot in Jordan.
Redacted premiered at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, where it earned a Silver Lion "best director" award. It was also shown at the Toronto Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema. The film opened in Spain, and in fifteen theaters in limited release in the United States on November 16, 2007. The film received mixed reactions from critics and a poor financial response in its limited U.S. release.
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In early April 2006, Private First Class Angel "Sally" Salazar (Izzy Diaz), a young United States Army soldier serving in the Iraq War, is an aspiring filmmaker who enlisted in the U.S. Army to help him get into film school, as he "did not get into USC". Salazar, based out of Camp "The Oven" Carolina, near Samarra, Iraq, is using his camcorder to record an amateur documentary, Tell Me No Lies, about his deployment in Samarra, to present to a film school of his choice as part of his future enrollment there as a student. Meanwhile, a French documentary crew is shooting a documentary called Barrage while they are embedded with Salazar's platoon.
The French documentary crew films the soldiers performing their routine duties as they man a checkpoint as part of their deployment in Iraq, to help curtail insurgent logistics. Using mirrors and bomb-sniffing dogs, the soldiers spend their days searching cars at the checkpoint. One day, the French documentary crew manages to videotape an incident in which Private First Class Reno Flake (Patrick Carroll), while manning a Humvee-mounted M2 Browning machine gun, fires on a speeding car that tries to rush through the checkpoint. A pregnant woman who was a passenger in the car, is shot and is rushed to the hospital by her husband, and later dies. It is later revealed that the husband, the driver of the car, was simply trying to get his pregnant wife to the hospital, as she was in labor, and misinterpreted the soldiers' commands to stop, believing that they were telling him that he was clear to proceed on through.
Back at Camp Carolina, Salazar, camcorder in hand, asks Flake how he felt about killing the pregnant woman, and he replies that he felt "nothing", and that it was like "gutting catfish". When Specialist Lawyer McCoy (Rob Devaney), a married, college-educated soldier, is disgusted by this response, Salazar and McCoy press the issue further, and Flake offers a sarcastic, facetious apology to Salazar's camcorder, enjoying the limelight. Sergeant Jim Vazquez (Mike Figueroa) defuses the situation before it gets out of hand, stating that Flake's actions were justified under the rules of engagement (ROE).
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- Izzy Diaz as PFC Angel "Sally" Salazar, USA:
- An aspiring filmmaker who enlisted in the military to help him get into film school. Using his camcorder, he decides to shoot a homemade movie about his deployment in Iraq, to increase his chances of getting enrolled. After two of his fellow platoon mates rape Farrah, a teenage Iraqi schoolgirl, and murders her and her family, Salazar is kidnapped by the Mujahideen Shura Council and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) while videotaping himself on a foot patrol, and subsequently beheaded in revenge. His death has a profound effect on SPC Lawyer McCoy, causing him to report the crime to the U.S. Army CID, leading to the arrests of PFC Reno Flake and SPC B.B. Rush for the gang-rape and murders of Farrah and her family.
- Rob Devaney as SPC Lawyer McCoy, USA:
- A married, college-educated soldier who enlisted in the U.S. Army, McCoy is disgusted by the conduct of his two fellow soldiers, PFC Reno Flake and SPC B.B. Rush.
- Ty Jones as MSG James Sweet, USA:
- A tough veteran senior NCO on his third deployment to Iraq; he helps keeps his fellow soldiers in check. Highly respected by his men, when he is killed by an IED while on a foot patrol, the unit spirals downward without the presence of his strong leadership, inadvertently leading to the gang-rape and murders of Farrah and her family.
- Mike Figueroa as SGT Jim "Sarge" Vazquez, USA:
- Kel O'Neill as PFC Gabe Blix, USA:
- A quiet, reserved soldier who spends his time reading books, most notably, Appointment in Samarra, by John O'Hara. He is the unit's K-9 handler, in charge of his bomb-sniffing dog, Kevin.
- Daniel Stewart Sherman as SPC B.B. Rush, USA:
- One of the unit's two troublemakers, he spends his time with his best friend, PFC Reno Flake. He is the team's M249 SAW gunner.
- Patrick Carroll as PFC Reno "Slowflake" Flake, USA:
- One of the unit's two troublemakers, he spends his time with his partner-in-crime, SPC B.B. Rush. He was named by his father, an avid gambler, after the city of Reno, Nevada, as he was fond of the city. He has a brother named Vegas Flake, who was named by his father after the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, which he was also fond of.
- Happy Anderson as LTC Ford, USA:
- The unit's battalion commander.
- Zahra Zubaidi as Farah, the victim.
Redacted has received mixed reviews. Michael Medved, a conservative Iraq War supporter, said "it could be the worst movie I've ever seen." However, Kyle Smith gave the movie a 3 star (out of 4) rating, saying, "(It) is a piece of anti-war propaganda whose aims I don't agree with, but it jolted me nonetheless." As of July 2008[update] reviewer Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave it a 3 and 1/2 stars (out of 4) stating that “the film is shocking, saddening and frustrating.". In a critical piece about the depiction of war by Hollywood, journalist John Pilger described the film as "admirable".
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film was rated "rotten", with only 43 percent of the 93 reviews being positive and the average rating 5.3/10. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 52 out of 100, based on 30 reviews. The French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma chose it as the best film of 2008.
On the weekend of its U.S. release the movie was viewed by approximately 3,000 people, grossing only $25,628. Brandon Gray, publisher of Box Office Mojo, said the low per-theater ratio made the film a flop for De Palma. Richard Johnson ran an article titled "De Palma Iraq flick bombs". The Daily Telegraph also said that the theatrical release had "bombed" in the U.S. Total U.S. gross amounted to only $65,388. International release added $716,053 for a total worldwide gross of $781,441. The film's budget was $5 million.
Relation to the real life incident
De Palma has been criticized for not including the fact that all of the soldiers involved in the real-life Mahmudiyah killings were prosecuted for the rape and murders perpetrated. The film ends with an official investigation underway, and does not depict a trial or conviction. Kurt Loder wrote in 2007 that "all five of the soldiers involved (in the rape and murder) were arrested and charged, and three have been tried and sentenced to 90, 100 and 110 years in prison." In addition, at the time of the film's release, the alleged ringleader, PFC Steven Dale Green, was being tried in a federal court in Kentucky, reportedly facing the death penalty. Since then all legal proceedings have completed.
However, De Palma pointed out that the film itself is fictional; HDNet's lawyers told him he could not use anything real about the true event – he had to fictionalize it, and was not allowed to refer to the real event in any way.
The film has attracted political controversy, with claims that, though the film is based on a real event, it portrays U.S. soldiers in a negative light, and has contributed to anti-American sentiment in Iraq and elsewhere; for example the murders by Arid Uka. Sites like "boycottredacted.com" have accused Brian De Palma and the producer Mark Cuban of treason, and called for the general public to avoid watching the film. Republican Duncan Hunter, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee complained in a letter to the chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America that the film "portrays American service personnel in Iraq as uncontrollable misfits and criminals" and "ignores the many acts of heroism performed by our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors in Iraq." However, critic Kyle Smith opined that "De Palma isn't trying to insult the troops but illustrating how any war puts men in impossible situations." De Palma has stated that the film provides a realistic portrait of U.S. troops and how "the presentation of our troops has been whitewashed" by media. He expected that its graphic images would stir public debate about the conduct of U.S. soldiers.
Commentator Bill O'Reilly has called for protests of Redacted and against Mark Cuban. O'Reilly claims that the film demeans U.S. soldiers and may incite violence against them, and he has called on ticketholders to bring signs to Dallas Mavericks games and all theaters showing the movie, stating 'Support the Troops'. Mark Cuban has responded, saying "The movie is fully pro-troops. The hero of the movie is a soldier who stands up for what is right in the face of adversity... I think that the concept that the enemy will see these films and use it as motivation is total nonsense. We have no plans of translating these movies to Arabic or other Middle Eastern languages...It's really easy to hate, its really hard to think issues through on their own merits. Anything that makes people think about issues is a good thing." Cuban also pointed out that, through the Fallen Patriots charitable fund that he set up and finances, over $2.5 million has been donated to soldiers in need. He went on to publish an email he received from a soldier wounded in Iraq, who wrote "they've already formed their opinions of us and very little we do or say is going to change their minds. One movie, regardless of its subject matter, is not going to overcome their personal feelings".
During a New York Film Festival press conference for the film, De Palma mentioned that Redacted is itself redacted, due to Magnolia Pictures owner Mark Cuban "being disturbed" by the ending photo montage's imagery. A voice from the audience called out "That's not true"; with the speaker identifying himself as Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures. The producer of the film later appeared on stage to explain that the images were taken out not because they were disturbing, but because of concerns about the possibility that relatives of the dead persons appearing on the photographs might bring lawsuits for emotional distress and the like. Magnolia, he said, had been put in "an untenable legal position" making the movie uninsurable.
In an interview conducted the day after the uproar at the press conference, Cuban said, "There is no way I am going to include images of people who have been severely wounded or maimed and killed when the possibility exists that their families could unknowingly see the images and recognize a loved one." He also said that Magnolia had offered De Palma the option of buying the film back from the distributor in order to release it himself and "absorb 100 percent of the risk", but that De Palma did not accept. De Palma responded, "That's not true. He never offered me that opportunity, he never answered my phone calls."
2011 Frankfurt killing of U.S. airmen
On March 2, 2011, a man shot and killed two U.S. airmen at the Frankfurt Airport in Frankfurt, Germany, and wounded two others, maiming one. The suspect was identified as a 21-year-old man, Arid Uka, a German citizen of Albanian descent, who had worked at the airport. Uka claimed that he shot the airman because of a video he had watched on YouTube the day before, which supposedly showed U.S. Army soldiers raping a Muslim Iraqi girl. The March 6, 2011 edition of the German television show Spiegel TV Magazine identified the video as a clip from the movie Redacted. In a confession, Arid Uka stated that he shot at the U.S. airmen because he believed that they were going to commit additional rapes based on what the video footage from Redacted had portrayed.
- "Redacted". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- Aloisi, Silvia (2007-08-31). ""Redacted" stuns Venice". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- Jason Solomons (2007-09-09). "Brutal Iraq film is Venice hit: Award for real-life story of rape by US soldiers". London: The Guardian.
- "Redacted – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-11-26.[dead link]
- Iraq war atrocity film Redacted bombs in US, The Daily Telegraph, Nov. 28, 2007.
- Joe Garofoli (2007-11-23). "Iraq war is hell on the bottom line at the box office". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Jones, Ty (May 5, 2007). "Unscripted: On Location". Backstage Blogs.
- "Redacted Press Kit". Magnolia Pictures.
- "Redacted Final Notes". Magnolia Pictures.
- "Redacted Press Kit". Magnolia Pictures.
- "De Palma Iraq Flick Bombs". New York Post. 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2007-11-25.[dead link]
- Smith, Kyle (2007-11-16). "Battle-Scarred". New York Post. Retrieved 2007-11-16.[dead link]
- Ebert, Roger (2007-11-16). "Redacted". RogerEbert.com.
- Pilger, John (2010-02-11). "Pilger Iraq Oscar American War". NewStatesman.
- "Redacted – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-05-19.[dead link]
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- "Meilleurs films de l'année 2008 (Best Films of 2008)".
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- "Redacted: Battle Casualty" by Kurt Loder, MTV.com, Nov. 16, 2007, accessed Nov. 25, 2007.
- Thompson, Anne (2007-09-04). "De Palma Defends Redacted From Venice". Variety.
- "War film's portrayal of soldiers draws fire from GOP lawmaker". Washington Times. 2007-11-22.
- Director De Palma disturbed over Iraq film edit Reuters October 19, 2007
- BillOReilly.com: The O'Reilly Factor Flash
- Mark Cuban (2007-09-04). "Me and Bill OReilly".
- Mark Cuban (2007-11-17). "Subject: This soldiers perspective on the Redacted issue.".
- "Director De Palma disturbed over Iraq film edit" Reuters
- Hattenstone, Simon (2008-03-08). "No one wants to know". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Antikriegsfilm soll Flughafen-Attentäter aufgestachelt haben". ECHO Online. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
- "Attentat: Vergewaltigungsvideo Auslöser?". Bild. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
- German Islamist terrorist confesses and blames fake jihad rape video for inspiring his crime
- Gordts, Eline (2012-02-10). "Arid Uka, Frankfurt Airport Shooter, Sentenced To Life". Huffington Post.
- Official website
- Redacted at the Internet Movie Database
- Redacted at Rotten Tomatoes
- Redacted at Metacritic
- Redacted at Box Office Mojo
- Redacted at AllMovie
- Interview with Brian De Palma, from Fresh Air program, November 14, 2007