Brian de Palma has shown a film called Redacted in Venice. It is based on the case of the young Iraqi woman raped and then murdered with her family in March 2006 by a group of American soldiers. Standing ovation and 5 minutes of applause.
Why this film now?
"The movie is an attempt to bring the reality of what is happening in Iraq to the American people," he told reporters after a press screening.
"The pictures are what will stop the war. One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to motivate their Congressmen to vote against this war," he said.
Now I wasn't invited to Venice this year so I haven't seen the film. However, you do wonder about the logic of his case and his hopes.
As Roger Simon notes, does de Palma believe that this sort of thing is unique? Did American soldiers not rape during WW2? What does he think the Russians did? Does a rape make a case against a war?
Undoubtedly, he would reply that the rape is an individual case that not only stands for many, but metaphorically points towards the coalition's behaviour in Iraq. Showing it makes an emotional impact which will lead to an intellectual response, which in turn will galvanise opinion against the war.
Except that Iraqis don't need metaphors, and who are they turning against? And why? Because of acts far worse and far more numerous than anything done by Americans. What happens to terrorists who commit these acts? They are lauded among their fellows. What happened to the American soldiers? They were charged and received sentences of between 5 and 110 years. So what reality is he trying to bring home?
"The pictures are what will stop the war." This makes me want to cry. The brave anti-establishment artist makes a stand against the super-power and brings down their genocidal policies. Art that makes a difference. Pushes the people onto the streets to Stop The War. The man is 66 and he talks like an under-graduate. He'll be so upset when, Lo! the war doesn't stop and he'll whine about how he wasn't listened to and how Art doesn't count for anything any more.
And what is it with de Palma, American soldiers and gang-rape? In his Casualties of War, he has a young Vietnamese girl raped and killed by 4 American soldiers. (Some people never change, huh?) That was in 1989. It stopped the Vietnam War. Retroactively.