Is it possible for a photograph to change the world? Photographs taken by soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison changed the war in Iraq and changed America’s image of itself. Yet, a central mystery remains. Did the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs constitute evidence of systematic abuse by the American military, or were they documenting the aberrant behavior of a few “bad apples”? We set out to examine the context of these photographs. Why were they taken? What was happening outside the frame? We talked directly to the soldiers who took the photographs and who were in the photographs. Who are these people? What were they thinking? Over two years of investigation, we amassed a million and a half words of interview transcript, thousands of pages of unredacted reports, and hundreds of photographs. The story of Abu Ghraib is still shrouded in moral ambiguity, but it is clear what happened there. The Abu Ghraib photographs serve as both an expose and a coverup. An expose, because the photographs offer us a glimpse of the horror of Abu Ghraib; and a coverup because they convinced journalists and readers they had seen everything, that there was no need to look further. In recent news reports, we have learned about the destruction of the Abu Zubaydah interrogation tapes. A coverup. It has been front page news. But the coverup at Abu Ghraib involved thousands of prisoners and hundreds of soldiers. We are still learning about the extent of it. Many journalists have asked about “the smoking gun” of Abu Ghraib. It is the wrong question. As Philip Gourevitch has commented, Abu Ghraib is the smoking gun. The underlying question that we still have not resolved, four years after the scandal: how could American values become so compromised that Abu Ghraib—and the subsequent coverup—could happen?
There’s a few things that immediately excited me about this trailer:
1. 2.35 Aspect Ratio
2. Robert Richardson
3. Glorious B-Roll
4. Danny Elfman Score
Morris’ is truly the king of b-roll and re-enactments. He even puts Rescue 911 and Unsolved Mysteries to shame. I can’t say the Iraq subject matter is immediately attention grabbing for me (It hasn’t even been a year since I saw The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) but a Morris film is an event and I’m really interested in his approach here. Standard Operating Procedures seems to be a great companion piece to his recent blog entries over at The New York Times, analyzing truth in photography. Definitely excited for this. Follow the link below and check it out in full 1080p HD!
Like many American outsider-adventurers, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz set out to realize a utopian dream. Abandoning a successful medical practice, he sought self-fulfillment by taking up the nomadic life of a surfer. But unlike other American searchers like Thoreau or Kerouac, Paskowitz took his wife and nine children along for the ride, all eleven of them living in a 24 foot camper. Together, they lived a life that would be unfathomable to most, but enviable to anyone who ever relinquished their dreams to a straight job. The Paskowitz Family proved that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn’t run out of frontiersman.
I really like films that take advantage of people with obsessive tendencies for self documentation. This trailer reminded me of ‘Into the Wild’, except these people are travelling in a bus rather than dying in one. This is what would happen if The Partridge Family decided to go off the grid and live the life of a Hannah-Barbera style surfing cartoon family. For some reason I seem to gravitate toward these traditional family adventures. (I’m a big fan of The Danielson Famile and The Trachtenburg’s) So i’m definitely on board for this one. However, I must say I’m more interested in checking out Pray’s ‘Big Rig’, a documentary about long haul truck driver’s.