Nice to be in the presence of greatness: Ken Loach introduces his new film, “Route Irish”.
It’s a political thriller of the type Britain is particularly good at – though Loach doesn’t see it as a thriller and didn’t make it as one, he claims – and trawls the fertile sea of the Iraq war for its tale of private contractor conspiracy. Perhaps unusually for a film made in the West, it presents all the human tragedy of the conflict that has been inflicted on the Iraqis, showing them as humans rather than, as producer Rebecca O’Brien says, “props”. It’s typically Loach (and writer Paul Laverty): scorchingly political, brilliantly humane – and occasionally rather clunky.
The discussion afterwards is hugely interesting but perhaps not exactly unexpected: the anger he feels at the injustice of the war; the problems he had getting it made; the difficulties he has finding distributors so that people can actually see it; the horrors he discovered while doing the research; the conflict he feels trading with the devil of Sky Movies. One thing strikes me: while Loach is almost unique, the subjects he tackles aren’t. There have been many recent enormously successful films about political conspiracies that are similarly anti-war or anti-establishment or anti-corporation: think of “The Constant Gardener”, or “Syriana”, or “The International”. Why are they so commercially successful, attracting funding and distribution? Perhaps it’s because they don’t quite bang on about the message, but dress it up in a medium that the audience recognises and responds to. For Loach, the medium is entirely subservient to the message, which is why he doesn’t want to admit he’s made a thriller. Market it as just that – a tight, exciting, action-packed thinking man’s thriller (all of which it is) – and perhaps the cash will come flooding in, and the message will do it’s own work.
However, Loach, for all his loveliness and humanity, isn’t naive, and I’m sure he’s thought about that and already rejected it: so I’ll just bow to his genius.
The incendiary details of the Wikileaks Iraq documents release are truly sickening but not at all surprising.
American helicopter gunships mowing down surrendering insurgents; Al Qaeda targeting children with IED’s; Iraqi security forces drilling into the legs of torture victims.
What is absolutely clear is that this is like no other war, since all sides are actually waging war on the Iraqi civilian population.
Our leaders started this. Until Bush, Blair and all the other profit-hunting warmongers stand in front of a war crimes tribunal, we will share their guilt.
A day for horrific revelations about army behaviour. Hot on the heels of this morning’s post about the murder and cover-up of Afghan civilians comes this frankly unbelievable video of action taken from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad. In the shooting, two Reuters journalists along with several seemingly perfectly peaceful Iraqis are gunned down from the air as pilots utter such noble sentiments as “Look at all them dead bastards” and “nice”. Two segments chill me: one is the copter circling a wounded journalist as he tries to crawl for safety, the pilot praying, “just pick up a weapon” to justify him opening fire on the obviously crippled man; the other is when they discover that they have shot children in a van that has come to rescue the wounded and they say, “it’s their own fault for bringing children to a battle” and, as they line up their weapons on the van and can see the kids, “just let us shoot.”
What is also shocking is the way that they lay the groundwork for their cover up even before the “engagement”, claiming to see up to eight people armed with AK47s and RPGs when what they really see is one rifle and a telephoto lens. I would feel a lot safer if I knew that these killers at least had the decency to have a sleepless night over what they’d done, but I very much doubt they have the requisite humanity.
Watching it made my blood boil.