Over There

Documentarians bring the real war back home

But if the filmmakers wanted to avoid the pitfalls of mainstream news media, they also equally uninterested in crafting 2004-style docu-screeds. "I was completely opposed to the invasion of Iraq," Scott states bluntly. "But I wasn't interested in bringing what I thought to something that didn't have anything to do with me. I was much more interested in what was actually happening there." Olds says they aimed for "something that we would have wanted to see about Vietnam or Korea or any of those wars. Not topical or activist, but something that would sustain itself as a historical document."

Similarly, Tucker sought to restore the emotional punch that images of war have lost. "I'm kind of beyond rights and wrongs, at this point. I'm really more like, we're two years into a war, and it's a very painful thing. And that people need to pay attention to what's happening to these soldiers and their families. I think people have seen the war so politically, when they should see it emotionally, because emotions are good for action. Politics are a very dry thing."

Nevertheless, both films convey political meanings that go well beyond mere partisan arguments. At the end of Occupation: Dreamland, one soldier sums up the see-no-evil attitude of the folks stateside: "People want that steak, but they don't want to know how that cow gets butchered."

The contemporary American war fighter: Gunner Palace
photo: Palm Pictures
The contemporary American war fighter: Gunner Palace

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    Scott agrees. "I want people to know how the cow gets butchered," he says. "They should simply know what's happening out there, whether they like it or not. If they still are down with what's happening over there, well, more power to them, but they should know what's happening and how these things are conducted."

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