Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 4: ONLY THE DEAD
Michael Ware and William Guttentag’s personal experience of the Iraq War made its world premiere at Sydney this Summer. The doc has also screened at Melbourne, New Zealand, and Telluride.
Constructed as an essay from Ware’s perspective, the film follows the war correspondent as he arrives in Baghdad in 2003 to report on the war for CNN and Time Magazine. Collecting footage over the next decade, Ware offers his reflections via narration on the invasion and the morass of occupation while loosely following the trajectory of al Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after the notorious jihadist sends the journalist a videotape claiming credit for brutal crimes. While the film is notably concise, there’s a looseness to the proceedings that never quite coheres, and Ware’s incessant musings have a tendency to grate. At the same time, he captures a harrowing and visceral experience of the front line of battle, often with a disturbing amount of hauntingly graphic violence on display that offers little respite from the brutality of modern-day warfare.