Movie Review: No End In Sight

Not long ago I had the distinct privelege of receiving an advanced screener for the movie above, No End In Sight, not exactly sure what it was I was getting myself into. One of the side affects of the modern Michael Moore-style documentary is a feeling of safety, a feeling of detachment.

In those documentaries where the film maker plays a leading role, inadvertantly the host also acts as a buffer, not merely molding your opinion of the subject matter, but also softening the blow, a single person standing between you and the raw data like a blast shield.

It had been a while since I had seen the other type of documentary, the kind that is raw and unchecked by a personality standing in front of the camera holding a microphone. And in retrospect, I’m glad.

No End In Sight, coming so raw and unfettered as it did, hit me like a sucker punch coming from no where, driving the wind from my lungs and leaving me panting helplessly on the mat. There is no face to tie the movie together; the film maker’s voice is only even heard a few sparse times in interviews. The narrator’s voice is flat, void of emotion, and minimal.

Graphics are kept to a minimum and when they are used they are basic, unsensational.

The overall effect is simply awe inspiring. In removing any and all flare on his part of the film making, what Charles Ferguson has created was a film in which the story tells itself. The footage, the interviews from ORHA and CPA officials and reporters and civillians, and the bare bones charts come together to weave a tapestry that is powerful and soul shattering.

Without immediately pushing an opinion, what we as an audience are treated to is an intriguing narrative running with an undercurrent of profound injustice and much deserved anger.

It’s not merely a story of bad men doing bad things. That would be too simplified. Instead what Ferguson shows us is a story of good people trying to do good things and being thwarted at every turn. Col. Paul Hughes, who had been working on a nearly daily basis with Iraqi Army Officers in an attempt to find a place for them in post-Saddam Iraq, Richard Armitage and Col. Lawrence Wilkerson who had watched as the attempts by their office under Colin Powell tried to force sanity into the post war efforts and watch it crumble, General Jay Garner and Ambassador Barbara Bodine who were tasked with creating a new Iraqi government, and trying to do so out of stripped down and looted offices with minimal staff who didn’t even know each other.

The missteps are enraging, futher exacerbated by the knowledge that we had people there trying to make it right the whole time, and watching as their hopes, their plans, were stepped on by the administration. And all this framed by a visual style that is unblinking in its horrific honesty.

Hughes one second is dismayed at finding out the Iraqi Army had been disbanded, lamenting at the loss of all those potential allies in the streets, ruing these thousands and thousands of armed men now out of work, the very next frame, a street explodes with the fury of an unleased IED.

There’s no humor, no safe moments, no heavy exposition to make things simple for mass consumption, just a sheer onslought of truth hitting you harder and faster than you’ve come equipped to handle, and in the end, you’ll see these faces when you close your eyes at night, the new truths you have learned will immediately leap to mind the moment you see the president hit your tv screen.

It is a story of gross and willful incompetence, and the awful aftermath. It is the Iraqi who, after recounting watching his brother die in an IED explosion admits that Saddam was bad, but the US occupation is much worse.

No End In Sight comes out on the 27th this month in New York and Washington, and released in full nationwide next month. But this film, its significance is so vital, I’m of the mind that we can’t afford to wait. We can’t afford to wait for this film to hit cable tv until after this president has been ousted from the White House.

This needs to be shown in prime time, right now, on every network station out there. No American who loves their country should go without seeing this. No American who believes in the inherent goodness of our nation should go without seeing this. No American period should be deprived of this film.

And if you are truly an American, then you cannot make it to the end credits without feeling the same bitter rage seething from the lips of a Marine Lieutenant as he says, “Are you telling me that is the best America can do? Because don’t tell me that. Don’t tell the marines who fought in a month in Najaf that. Don’t tell the marines who are still fighting in Falujah that that’s the best we can do… That makes me angry.”

You can learn more of the movie here at the film’s official website.

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