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Movie Review: No End in Sight

No End in Sight
Written and directed by Charles Ferguson
Magnolia Pictures, 2007

Human nature dictates that we get tired of things, and the Iraq conflict is no different.  We care deeply about what happens to our soldiers, but become numb to the death totals unless it’s someone we know.  This also goes for criticism of the war itself.  Whether you are adamantly opposed and especially if you’ve always been for the war, it doesn’t matter.  The criticism itself has become tiresome.

No End in Sight was one of the many films in 2007 that went relatively unnoticed because of this exhaustion.  The media has brought up the box office failures many times with The Kingdom, Rendition, and Lions for Lambs.  Distaste for troubles in the Middle East basically rendered these movies failures before they even came out.  We’ll be seeing the same response with the documentary Taxi to the Dark Side and Kimberly Peirce’s Stop Loss later in 2008.

No End in Sight has made some year-end best lists, and it’s easy to see why.  Director Charles Ferguson finds many people who once worked within the Bush administration to explain what they think went wrong with Iraq.  Keep in mind, he’s not asking if something went wrong.  He and his subjects are now beyond that.  They want to explain what went wrong.

No End in Sight shows how people with no foreign policy experience and couldn’t speak Arabic tried to wage this war, and how they ignored people who could have helped them.  And how people in Washington were given important jobs, but were given no resources and no support to do those jobs.  One of the more damning aspects of the film is how the Iraqi Republican Guard was dismantled, sending thousands of unhappy, unemployed people to the streets and created terrorists right then and there.

It’s chock full of information, and it doesn’t stray towards conspiracy theories.  It just lays out facts and a bunch of people who tell their side of the story as passionately as they can without going way overboard.  Ultimately, the pre-war scenarios weren’t good but we went in anyway, and when we went in, we still could have made some good decisions that would have turned the tide, but didn’t.

I thought No End in Sight did a great job bringing better understanding of the Iraq conflict.  With all the news programs and offhand observations from “experts” and celebrities, it’s hard to weed out the facts and come up with a clear perspective.  This one finds people who were actually there, dealing with the inner (nearly nonexistent) workings of the government.  That is why this film is an important document.

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