Classic Movie Review: Only The Dead See the End Of War (2016)

Posted: April 9, 2016 in Documentary

onlythe dead have seen the end of war

Time magazine reporter Michael Ware traces terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and the rise of Isis in Iraq.

The film illustrates that even while the government of Saddam Hussein is being taken down, a shadow government is being put in place to fill the vacuum.  Symbolic and physical manifestations are of the new radicalism in Iraq are everywhere.  The access that Ware gets is unprecedented, he gets to follow U.S. troops into Ramadi and Fallujah, and the viewer gets to see what really street to street house to house fighting is like, this documentary is not the Pentagon approved aerial bombardment pictures, if you think war is a video game and could be fun to try this film may change your mind, it shows the real life often bloody results when war begins to have unintended consequences.

Ware not only gets unprecedented access to the American soldiers, he gets access to the insurgency including videos made by Zarqawi’s followers.  This calls into question Ware’s objectivity as a journalist, is he a journalist or a propaganda tool for Zarqawi and his followers?  The war undoubtedly changes Ware, he starts the war as a cocky 30 year old war correspondent, thinking of war as an adventure.  Ware is much more reflective and his mood is much darker at the end of seven years in Iraq.  His changes seem to reflect the evolution of Iraq as a country, in the beginning optimistic, at the end of seven years of war, weary and unsure what the future holds. The last scene in the documentary is absolutely haunting.  There are many horrifying scenes in this film, but the last one will stay with me for a while.

This is undoubtedly required watching for anyone interested in the war in Iraq and how Isis came to be.  It is not a politicized documentary.  He puts the blame squarely where it should be, on Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, and his fanatical devotion to bloodshed.  Ware does not have an axe to grind, you might love it or hate it, depending on your view of the Iraq war, but you should watch it, the images do most of the talking here, and you the viewer can decide how much weight those images carry.

Only The Dead See The End of War.  A hard-hitting no holds barred look at the Iraq war.

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