Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Black Watch (2010)

The National Theater of Scotland’s play about the title regiment's time during the early days of the Iraq is powerful theater. The play is performed in a space that approximates a parade ground with the audience on two sides and the actors entering and exiting at either end. It’s the sort of thing that is impossible to capture on film adequately since the play is staged in such away that it puts the audience in to an environment that makes you an active participant in the events. (And it should be stated, it’s impossible to see completely in person because things are often happen to your right and left at the same time.)

And yet the show was filmed for British television to very good effect.

The film that resulted is not really the show but the same time it’s probably as good a film/video representation of the show as you are likely to get.

The story of the show is that of group of soldiers who are contacted by a researcher from a theater company who want to know if they want to talk about Iraq. They jump at the prospect of meeting a beautiful girl, and are angry when a guy shows up. After accepting drinks they begin to tell the story of their time in Iraq leading up to the death of several of their number in a roadside bombing.(That’s not a spoiler you learn how several end up early on.)

The story is focused squarely on the fighting men. It is not about the war, only the men who fight it, or rather a bunch of guys fighting one small portion of it. And when I say it focuses on the men I mean just that, other than the researcher, a couple of fleeting other characters we are focused squarely on the men and their life in Iraq supporting the American forces.

It’s a deeply moving story that plays differently than it does on stage. Stripped of the vast expanse of a stage and with our view picked by the camera the film becomes much more intimate. We now we really see the faces and expressions of the soldiers. Where they were friends on stage they are now intimates.

You probably won’t get any insight on Iraq, but you will stare deeply into the soul of our fighting men. I can’t really describe what seeing this is like. It’s a trip into the mind and soul of those who choose to fight for us…and ultimately for each other. Rest assured that by the time the end comes you will be moved.

Worth tracking down.(currently out on DVD in the UK it can be had via Amzaon UK.

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