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It is a good ambition in life to watch everything Michael Winterbottom does, because firstly it gives you plenty of excellent films to watch, and secondly you will be exposed to the whole range of ambitious filmmaking, from full-fledged star vehicle with a brain (Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart), over science fiction (Code 46), arthouse porn (Nine Songs) to wartime documentaries. Now on the latter, he curiously enough made two pseudo-documentarian  films in a short period. The first one, “In This World”,  got me hooked on Winterbottom in the first place (not the least, I think, because I watched it in the premiere at the Berlin film festival, and Winterbottom was there to talk about it in his very humble fashion). The second one, that I see with a bit of delay now, is “Road to Guantanamo”.
It is not as intentisive and strong and rough as “In this World”, maybe because the form of fake documentary cannot be used too often without the realism effect wearing off, maybe because some of the acting is not as intensive, or because the studio statements of the supposed Guantanamo detainees is just a bit too much for this form to still be acceptable as make-believe. However, the story of three English guys of Pakistani origin travelling to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan for a laugh, getting caught up in the bombing of Kundus and ending up as supposed Al Qaeda-Warriors in Guantanamo Bay prisoner camp for several months … that story is not bad. It gives an opportunity to show what the prisoners experience close-up, how they are being disgraced and de-humanised – and for me it was most interesting to realise that at some point I thought that it does not matter to me whether they are innocent (which we are made to believe) or not. There is no way to treat anybody like this, be it your enemy or not. From this perspective, the fact that we are witnessing the innocent guys, but hardly see anything about the real fighters and terrorists who undoubtedly have also been incarcerated in the same camp is maybe even counter-productive. The most human message would have been a message on how to treat your worst enemy.

One Comment

  1. I thought Road to G was a well-constructed piece of work. I think it would have taken a lot of guts to tell this story and that’s something Winterbottom has got in spades.

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