Commentary Magazine


More Hollywood Iraq Madness

Yet another Iraq movie started shooting this week. This one is a fictionalized version of the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. Director Paul Greengrass is one of the most impressive talents working in film today, and he’s secured Amy Ryan, a likely Oscar winner for Gone Baby Gone, and Greg Kinnear to star with Matt Damon. Ryan plays a New York Times reporter, and the apparent point of the movie is that the Army is making a huge mistake by staying holed up away from the Iraqi public in the heavily fortified Baghdad Green Zone.One of the many problems you face when you make a movie about Iraq is this: it takes years to put a movie together, by which time you can bet that whatever you are saying will be outdated. Since the Surge, for example, the Army no longer sticks to its Green Zone-think. And anyway, the armchair generals who have been offering their wisdom to actual military officers since day one keep contradicting themselves. An excellent example is No End In Sight, which has won a shelf full of awards for Best Documentary of 2007. The movie argues at length that the American forces made a huge mistake by keeping inside the Green Zone, and offers up as an example of what they should have done the tale of the U.N. official Sergio Vieira de Mello. It’s true that Viera de Mello operated within a much more open and welcoming site. It’s also true that he was promptly killed by a bomb. To add insult to it all, the book on which the Greengrass film is based was written by a Washington Post man, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, yet it’s a Times reporter who is a lead character. If there’s anything the public likes less than an antiwar Iraq movie, it’s a movie about how wonderful journalists are.