29 June 2004

Review: Control Room (5/5)

Control Room is a documentary about Al Jazeera right before the beginning of the Iraq war until not long after the end of major conflict. I have not seen Fahrenheit 9/11, anticipate seeing it very much, and yet now feel that I have seen the definitive expression of this war. In Control Room, the director's assessment of each side of the conflict was not equal, but it felt so honest as to be irrefutable. Both Arabs and Americans were shown at their most dubiously confident and most dishearteningly troubled (though one is more sympathetic than the other). The characters, real characters, were worthy of the best you could hope to see in a drama. You care about all of them and end up wishing the world were simpler and that it didn't involve these honest people caught in the middle of all of the lies and pride and anguish of events that none chose to suffer.

There's humor enough and an even hand that presents the tragedies. But you ultimately succumb to the scenes with the Al Jazeera reporter during his dialogs with the U. S. military's Central Command media representative as they struggle to communicate to the other what they know-in-their-hearts is true.

There were a total of nine people in the audience for Control Room while Fahrenheit 9/11 filled two screens, yet that cannot be considered unjust. As one Al Jazeera reporter commented in the movie: because of such actions, my soft-spoken voice will no longer be heard above the anger that has been incited. Control Room will ultimately be remembered.

[Two small technical issues: (1) cuts during interviews were slightly noticeable but almost hidden. With such raw honesty, the editorializing should have been more overt. (2) Generous clips from Al Jazeera were included and only designated by the imprimatur at the lower right. Most of the documentary was so similar to the news clips that one was often indistinguishable from the other. A more obvious framing should have been used.]

[ posted by sstrader on 29 June 2004 at 12:30:21 AM in Cinema ]