What do an elderly topiary gardener, a retired lion tamer, a man fascinated by mole rats, and a cutting-edge robotics designer have in common? Both nothing and everything in this ... See full summary »
Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »
First documentary ever to be nominated for the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival (2008). See more »
Tim Dugan, civilian interrogator (as himself):
You gotta consider yourself dead, and if you come back, you're just a lucky bastard, you know. But if you're there, and you consider yourself already dead, you can do all the shit you have to do. I wouldn't recommend a vacation to Iraq anytime soon.
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What's in a picture? They say its worth a thousand words, but how many words are what's not in a picture worth. How about thousands of pictures? That conundrum is one of the major foci of Errol Morris, the eccentric genius documentarian's new project, Standard Operating Procedure. Although I was not engaged as I was with Morris's other works, Standard Operating Procedure is still a brilliant and fascinating look at the Abu Ghraib photo scandal.
Morris interviews through the interrotron numerous members of the staff at Abu Ghraib prison. They give their thoughts on their complicity in acts of torture, and reflect back on their experiences. One of the film's major attractions is Lynndie English, that now infamous young woman so maliciously captured on film.
What comes across most intently is that they were just doing what they were told. Those orders always come from off camera left or right. No one above Staff Sergeant was ever charged with anything. This is a point the documentary tries to drive home. In any bureaucratic structure, the big dogs never take the fall. You always sacrifice your little men, your pawns. If people knew what was really going on at the top, they would most surely revolt, or at the very least make a stink, and that would be it for you.
Morris interviews one person who claims she took pictures because she knew it was wrong, to show the world. Is she telling the truth? Well she also discusses how it was "kinda fun" sometimes. She is probably guilty and innocent on all counts.
Morris delves into his subject matter with his usual detective style. He says very little, and of course never ever dares show his face on camera. He only prompts from time to time. He has a style that is uniquely his own in the documentary world. I did not find Standard Operating Procedure to be on the same level as say The Fog of War or Gates of Heaven. But then again how many are? This is a more than worthy addition to the Morris repertoire.
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