In common with practically the entire American movie-going audience, I don’t favor films about the Iraq war. I also have difficulty with the type of movie filmed with hand-held video cameras — the motion makes me carsick. Nevertheless, there I was last week at a showing of Severe Clear.
I blame my son, who really wanted to see it — he will be an Army officer next year. This film originates from footage taken in 2003 by 1st LT Mike Scotti, a young Marine who participates in the invasion of Iraq. He came back with over sixty hours of footage, which a professional director took charge of and edited into this film.
What you get is a higly intense and utterly unromaticized view of modern war. All the frightfulness and the boredom and violence of combat is right in your face. The soldiers are continually profane, incredibly enduring, and scandalously young. The saddest thing, besides the lavish loss of life, is the way Scotti’s idealism and hope gradually erodes into cynicism. The only narration other than his words is various scalding clips from news reports and political speeches. Colin Powell’s “we have proof of WMDs” is here, the words that have forever scotched any future public career for him. And when Dick Cheney is heard, I had to paraphrase Mary McCarthy: Every word was a lie and proven to be a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’
This film is not going to be at your local multiplex — no distributor signed on in spite of glowing reviews and good ratings. The creators are touring around the country and holding screenings. A good movie for writers, so that you can see what war is really like, and hear how real soldiers talk.
A short story has just been added to my Bookshelf: