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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

'Three Kings' Director Plans Documentary on Iraq War

From the NY Times:
Warner Brothers is financing the $180,000 project, which involves interviewing Iraqi refugees who acted as extras in "Three Kings," the caper about the 1991 Persian Gulf War (starring George Clooney), and American veterans of the current war in Iraq.

"It will look at both sides of the war, people who feel good about the war, who believe in the mission, people who feel bad," said Mr. Russell, speaking at the Santa Monica editing room where editors are working in 24-hour shifts to complete the film before the November election.

The rerelease of "Three Kings'' is planned as part of a promotion for a new DVD of the film, which will also include a longer version of the documentary. Juan Carlos Zaldivar and Tricia Regan are co-directors of it with Mr. Russell.

Mr. Russell said the documentary had a political purpose, but only in the sense of trying to inform people about a major electoral issue. "I thought I could perhaps make a difference before the election, let people see the situation, how Iraqis wanted to get rid of Saddam, but also show what war does to people," he said. "When I talk to veterans, they have a chance to cry. It's traumatic; it tears you up to see people shot, and then you're supposed to come home and just blend back into the community? The Army doesn't want to acknowledge the human cost of the war machine."

Mr. Russell said he had been pushing Warner Brothers to rerelease "Three Kings," which had only moderate success at the box office in 1999, but which has received belated acclaim for its prescient depiction of the moral dilemmas of the war in Iraq.

"People would keep saying to me, '"Three Kings" is so timely,' so I thought it would be interesting to re-release it, and to check in with the people who pertained to the movie literally, or in some relative way," he said.
It has been a while since I saw "Three Kings," but I remember really liking it and how it countered, in a small way, the silly triumphalism which accompanied the first criminal Gulf War. (If you want to see a really bad movie about the Gulf War, check out Courage Under Fire, starring Meg Ryan and Denzel Washington--sorry Meg!) I expect that this new film will be a very moving documentary.