Teruki Uehara

Redacted is a “fictional story inspired by true events” directed by Brian De Palma intensely moved by his anger. It is his vital attempt to bring to light the concealed stories of the harrowing war criminal acts of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers who also killed and burnt her family.
Once in the past, America had widely broadcasted the devastating war scenes of the Vietnam War (1959~1975). This broadcast incited the students and citizens of America to carry out serious anti-war activities across the United States. This phenomenon convinced De Palma that it is the visual image that finally stops the war.
The U.S. government, having learned their lesson with respect to the Vietnam War, began to impose news censorship. During the first Gulf War of 1991, the Bush administration strictly restricted coverage access by journalists. This succeeded in replacing realistic war scenes on the TV screen with the game-like images of distant lines of missile fires. The September 11 attacks in 2001 evoked the war against terrorism. The U.S. invasion on Afghanistan and Iraq has been leading to unknown consequences. This time around again, the U.S. mass media held firm to refrain from broadcasting real life war images. It was not just the government’s attempt on a media blackout that resulted in these situations. It is publicly known by now that even more serious phenomenon, the real epicenter that shakes the bedrock of American Democracy, freedom of expression and the press has been occurred underneath the surface.
Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs (2007) had Meryl Streep playing the role of a journalist who had to deal with self-imposed restriction on mass media. The Insider, directed by Michael Man (1999), which was a fictional drama based on a real story, depicted the corruption of broadcasting ethics. Three major broadcast networks including the CBS, which became a subject of the movie The Insider, have been merged into mega corporations. The top priority of these networks is not to harm reputation of their own corporation and keep their inconvenient truth within. In addition, it has been taken for granted that mass media channels such as Fox Network support the anti-terror war by creating TV dramas, which provoke the audience’s perceived threat of terrorism (for instance, shows such as 24 and other government-favorite news reporting programs).

The director of Redacted, De Palma, who felt resentful toward “everyday redacted broadcasting,” began to look for reasons for the occurrence of this harrowing incident (the rape and murder of the 14-year-old girl). He accessed blogs and journals written by soldiers and watched homemade war videos; he also went through related web sites, for example, footage posted on YouTube. De Palma, in growing rage, must have experienced hellish nightmare by going deep through the records of war and gathering the threads to create this controversial piece of work. Redacted contains numerous true stories that have not reported by the major channels of media. The director’s belief that “only visual images will seize the fire” is now put to the test as a belief that is linked to social responsibility. At the same time, for his director’s life, he challenged to elaborate the image to bring out the last scene of the movie. The last shot, which is actually the most horrifying visual image in this entire film, appears to be molded with the filmmaker’s grudge and lifelong obsession with fiction movies.

(Translation: Chikayo Oyamori)