De Palma Fights Redacted Edits

October 12, 2007 at 1:48 pm 1 comment

 In a classic example of irony in film, Brian De Palma has found that portions of his war drama Redacted have been…well, redacted.

The film, currently receiving decidedly mixed reviews during its limited run, closes with a montage of photos taken from the Iraq front — photos De Palma was forced to edit by Redacted‘s distributor, Magnolia Pictures, due to what The Hollywood Reporter describes as “legal and financial concerns.” The director took his concerns to the New York Film Festival on Wednesday, where he told an audience:

“The irony of all this is that even though everyone (in Iraq) has a digital camera and access to the Internet, somehow we don’t see any of these images…why are things being redacted? My own film was redacted.”

Movies about the Iraq war have proven to be a tough sell thus far, and given Redacted‘s particularly challenging storyline — the Reporter describes it as depicting “fictional soldiers raping an Iraq teenager and killing her family” — it’s likely that the Mark Cuban-owned Magnolia was one of the only places De Palma’s film could have been made. Still, De Palma feels misled. From the article:

De Palma added that he “lost” the long-running fight with producers to allow the images only 24 hours before the screening.

At a postscreening dinner, producers acknowledged that it was a difficult decision but, given the legal and financial concerns, one in which they had little room to maneuver.

The graphic photos depict victims of the war; with the black magic-marker etchings across their faces, though, the faces are now difficult if not impossible to recognize. Magnolia execs have said that it’s impossible to get legal releases for the photos, while Cuban has been quoted as saying he found the unredacted images problematic.

Redacted has already attracted criticism from right-wing pundits such as the popular comedian and respected film critic Bill O’Reilly, who the Reporter quotes as calling De Palma “a true villain in our country” and suggesting that even though “no one” will actually see it, the movie will somehow lead to the deaths of American troops.

De Palma’s comments at the New York Film Festival were met with an emotional response from Magnolia executives Eamonn Bowles and Jason Kliot, who stood up from the audience to disagree:

Bowles countered the charge that Magnolia was taking the easy way out when he asked De Palma in front of reporters, “Who else would make this movie?”

Redacted is scheduled to see wide release on November 30.



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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bob Boldt  |  October 21, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    I am appalled to hear that Redacted has been redacted. As if it were possible to further destroy the identities of the poor, maimed, dead Iraqis whose faces formed the background of the end titles in Brian De Palma’s film, now add the redaction of their images entirely. Are the cost benefit analysts working for the pharmaceuticals, automobile manufactures and the tobacco companies the only ones with any sense of risk or courage anymore? I prefer to think this has less to do with protecting the producers from legal action or the Iraqis from humiliation and invasion of privacy, than a monumental cowardice when it comes to confronting of the American moviegoer with a little too much reality. De Palma’s initial acquiescence to the insurers forced him to abandon the use of any actual footage in the body of the film. This has already resulted in the Right Wing warmongers accusing him of “making it all up” because he restaged rather than using the real footage. This colossal inability on their part to understand the difference between art and life is too outrageous to even deserve comment.

    What this chronic failure of nerve on the part of underwriters will do to the future of actual documentary filmmaking I leave to cynical speculation. I am convinced however that eventually the entertainment industry, corporations and the insurance pencil pushers will so lobotomize the creative spirit in this country, that the only artists left in our culture will be members of the Britney Spears Ilk’s Club.

    If you wish to see an unrepentant, unredacted piece of filmmaking that is not afraid of lawsuits and not afraid to show the real face of war, I recommend to you a moving three minute video on YouTube called “Kindertotenlied”.

    I hope that when the producers, whose footage was stolen for use in this video, finally get around to suing the filmmaker, they will learn exactly how much blood can be squeezed from a rock (as opposed to Iraq). Abject poverty, my friends, does have its privileges.


    Bob Boldt


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