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Battle for Haditha

Battle for Haditha

Issue 61 October 2009

Review by Omar Yehia

Battle for Haditha is a movie that explores with great detail the trauma caused by the Iraq war. During the war many of us have seen many news reports discussing causality numbers, war breaches and violations. Many have listened to George Bush, and the U.S administration press conferences, discussing issues of democracy and fighting for liberty. This movie portrays in depth, with a realistic approach, ordinary people on different sides of the battle, exploring their actions, motives and emotional trauma, including soldiers and Iraqi citizens’ actions and attitudes towards the war.

The main character in the movie is an ex-Iraqi military officer, who is contracted by Al-Qaida. Played by Falah Flayeh, the ex-officer is advised by Al-Qaida members to stop drinking, and to pay attention to his religious requirements. The mission of the officer is to plant a bomb, to explode as a U.S army marine truck drives past, and film the attack. Throughout the movie the character of the Iraqi officer is not represented as the stereotypical terrorist treated by Hollywood but rather the representation of a common citizen who is raged by the military occupation to his country is emphasised.

The young soldiers are seen at the beginning of the movie expressing their views on the war, where they show a great dissatisfaction over the reasons they have been told to fight for. Soldiers are portrayed throughout the movie to be irresponsible; acting upon emotion, unaware of realties of war and being sadistic.

Citizens of Haditha in this movie are the victims and are portrayed as they get caught up between the battle, of Al-Qaida and the Americans, where their daily lives and peace is threatened and terrorised. Gun fire does not differentiate between man, woman or child, as the order to American soldiers is to shoot at any moving body.

The bomb is planted on a main road by the city of Haditha, where it explodes. A U.S marine officer is killed by the attack, and the soldiers, full of rage, retaliate by murdering tens of innocent citizens. The surviving soldiers decide to pursue the bombers by terrorizing all the citizens of the city of Haditha. They black bag men, enter homes of civilians and fire on all moving bodies. Whole families, including women and children are murdered during the fire shooting, and those who survive are taken to imprisonment and interrogation.

A moving story of a husband and wife is captured in the movie, in scenes played by Yasmine Hanani as Hiba and Duraid Ghaieb as Rashied. The couple prepares for a party with their family as the American raid happens. Rashied and his family are murdered by the American soldiers, in a dramatic scene Hiba mourns her husband’s dead body; she remains one of the 2 survivors of the massacre.

The ex-Iraqi officer regrets planting the bomb after seeing the aftermath of the war and records a video condemning the American soldiers. The American soldiers forge reports about the battle decreasing the amount of casualties, which was later discovered and the soldiers were imprisoned by military court orders.

Battle for Haditha is described to be a revolutionary approach to film making due to its docudrama style of filming, and pioneering in capturing a difficult topc. It is a great piece of work by Nick Broomfield about a real live massacre that happened in Iraq.

The movie greatly emphasises family ties and relationships, and the effect war comes to have upon them. What is usually portrayed to us by news reports is numbers, whether numbers of soldiers killed, the numbers of civilians killed, or the numbers of fighters killed, or simply images of dead bodies. The end the message digested by the viewer is simply statistics of war. The Battle of Haditha, goes far beyond numbers, it explores stories behind each character and individual involved in the battle, indeed beside raising awareness and compassion about the war to the viewer, the dramatic movie entertains and startles the viewer throughout an 89 minute entertaining experience.

Director: Nick Broomfield

Duration: 89 minutes

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