No End in Sight (Ferguson, 2007)

Waste. Misconduct. Incompetence. Humiliation. Ignorance. Anger. All describe certain facets of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq beginning in 2003 and Charles Ferguson’s brilliant documentary No End in Sight might be the most indicting statement of the Bush Administration put to screen. The disbanding of the Iraqi Army post invasion, the overspending by U.S. contractors, and the dismissal of the United Nations are just some of the massive mistakes by Bush et. al highlighted by Ferguson. It’s not only a compilation of the many bungles the White House and Pentagon have made over the past four years, but a stirring, coherent, and all encompassing narrative devoid of the Michael Moore type sensationalism which has undermined previous Iraq documentaries. Presented through a mosaic of talking heads, some American, some Iraqi, including soldiers, diplomats, journalists, and politicians all involved with operations on the ground in country, No End in Sight musters a strong and deliberately calculated voice on the subject of Iraq. No matter your opinions, Democrat or Republican, this film should anger you beyond words since it speaks to a lack of focus and understanding by America’s leaders, a clear resentment for common sense and history that’s both profoundly misguided and arrogant. As a film, its use of music and silence manipulate that anger even further toward dread, and it’s about time a filmmaker went the extra mile. I read one ludicrous statement by a local critic here in San Diego that No End in Sight is “mostly a talking heads movie, which is to say mostly not a movie.” Well, I’m of the opinion that films can take multiple formal styles, and when Ferguson’s film beautifully shifts from interviews, to archival footage, to graphic inserts, it resembles a great form of cinematic art on par with Peter Davis’ Hearts and Minds. Maybe the backlash for the film’s almost pure informational aesthetic is a product of the shear amount of material presented all in one package. It’s staggering really, the way our government has handled the situation in Iraq, and that’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow. This is the most important film of the year.

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