Man of War

When Brian De Palma hears that his new movie Redacted, which opens today, will make some viewers feel like they’ve been punched in the stomach, he seems happy about it. “Maybe because they’re finally seeing the truth, something they’ve been guarded from so often,” he explained over the phone..

Mr. De Palma has never been a subtle, warm or fuzzy film director of the Spielberg ilk (remember Carrie? Scarface?). Redacted follows suit. Based on real events, the film follows the story of a frattish group of American soldiers who rape a teenage Iraqi girl, slaughter her family and then set her body on fire. When he initially read about the incident, Mr. De Palma asked himself: How could this have happened? What went wrong? “I went online and found all of the information the media wasn’t showing us,” he said. “I read soldiers’ blogs and books and watched YouTube videos.”

He wasn’t legally allowed to edit actual online footage into the dramatic film, so he re-created it through a montage of online media, surveillance camera recordings, news reports and content from terrorist Web sites.

At the end of the movie, Mr. De Palma shows a series of real-life photos from the Iraq war, which so flustered studio executives they requested that the victims’ eyes be blacked out. “It’s not surprising; it’s exactly what the movie is about, actually,” he scoffed. “The powers that be want to black out and ignore the things we need to see. … Now we’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”

Redacted opens on Friday, Nov. 16th. Man of War