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The Invisible War

Posted by martinteller on April 20, 2013

This is the best work I’ve seen by Kirby Dick, whose previous docs This Film Is Not Yet Rated and Twist of Faith were both good but fell a little short.  Here he examines the incidence of rape and sexual assault in the United States military.  It is a sobering and chilling situation.  The statistics alone are heartbreaking.  Some of them are admittedly speculative, based on the fact that so many instances never get reported.  But even without any inflations, the numbers are tragic.

The personal stories are depressing as well, telling of a system full of officers that don’t care about anything except protecting the reputation of their units and buddies, or in some cases are the perpetrators themselves.  It’s very much a “blame the victim” mentality in effect, with shockingly ludicrous instances of victims being charged with adultery… when their assailants are the ones who are married.  A pathetic percentage of the accused ever get convicted, and all attempts to expose the injustices are covered up and swept under the rug.  Nothing steams me up quite like injustice does, and this is a film that made me very angry indeed.

The movie’s only major shortcoming is that it spends very little time with those attempting to defend the system, and none with any of the perpetrators.  Whether this is a directorial decision, a legal situation or lack of participation, I don’t know.  But I wanted to see some of these scumbags get confronted.  It is a touchy thing these days to criticize the troops.  I am sure the majority of them are decent people, and that many of them are outstanding individuals of courage, integrity, intelligence and dedication.  But more and more I am convinced that it is a free-for-all playground for psychopaths.  If you’re the type of person inclined towards violent acts — and rape is more a violent act than a sexual one — what better place to turn to?

Dick’s style is refreshingly simple, without the goofy gimmicks that seem to be more prevalent in the documentary format these days.  He lets people tell their stories and provide information and show the awful damage that has been done and continues to be done.  An important film.  Rating: Very Good (85)


2 Responses to “The Invisible War”

  1. nancy said

    I have been dreading this one and wanting to watch at the same time. But it’s out of my hands – doesn’t carry it. Will check the library.

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