Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Green Zone

“It is not for you to decide what happens here”. That was the line that carried more weight than a thousand battle scenes in the new film “The Green Zone”. Freddy’s pronouncement to Damon’s character, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller comes at the climatic moment of an intriguing plot. In the wake of the Academy Best Picture “The Hurt Locker” (and its clear pro-military message), it will be for you to decide the propaganda level of this film. You will also find yourself giving serious consideration to the political meaning that is intended.

To me, there seems to be a “cleaning up” of our military’s image during the Obama era. We are attempting to put on a better face, needing to look as if we are truly benevolent (that word itself showing a bit of hubris) in our intentions for peace and “democracy”. I believe we are seeing this face lift naturally extending to cinema and literature. Without spoiling the film, I will go as far to say that we are made to believe that the various elements of our government have different agendas: Some good, some bad. If there is a way to save face as it relates to our military in Iraq, then conflicting factions in our military and intelligence communities would be it.

Undoubtedly there are individuals with character and conviction in our military and intelligence communities who thought they were doing a good thing by toppling tyranny. However, the question must be asked: What is the big picture when it comes to U.S. wars of aggression in the first place? As Freddy asked, what right do we have to determine the course of events of any country good or bad? Sure we need to have a military for self-defense, but when was the last time this military was used to stop an invasion on our shores? Miller had questions, he had doubts and he wanted to get to the bottom of the story. But Miller appears to have never questioned the morality of the war as long as the official story was held up to be true. This is my major problem with the political message of the film.

Just as Miller is about to (theoretically) suppress the inferno that is set to erupt in Iraq, Freddy steps in with force and utters the most important line of the film. How you view Freddy will be critical to your interpretation of this movie. Miller is a good guy. He really wants to save lives and stop violence. However Freddy doesn’t care. Freddy is on a mission. Freddy wants justice. Freddy wants his country back. Who is right? What is the extent of the character and integrity of Miller and Freddy? Miller seems to have his limits. Freddy is also human. But Freddy is strong in his convictions, and his heart tells him that “it is not for you to decide what happens here”.

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