Disclaimer: This show is a docu that advocates an anti-administration position regarding the Iraq war. Savant isn't going to pretend he isn't accord with that position. If you're furious that politics should be in a DVD review, stop reading, and don't blame me.
The best quote in Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War is roughly a hundred years old and from Mark Twain: "Patriotism means supporting one's country whatever. And the government when it deserves it." This informational documentary presents strict facts and a partisan argument that the Bush administration's war effort was based on calculated lies. In contrast to Michael Moore's emotional argument, this is a dry facts show with a straight story line: Here are the lies. Here's how we know. Here is some more interpretation of the Bush administration's perfidy. End of story. The cast of characters are mostly government insiders: ambassadors, weapons inspectors, a former director of the CIA, a former Asst. Secretary of Defense, former CIA analysts and operatives. It's easy to make a case for their collective partisanship, but it's their reasoned arguments and careful analysis that most identify them as opponents of the Bush administration. Unlike the administration they don't use buzzwords, fear-inducing threats, shifty prevarications or concerted campaigns of disinformation to show us what happened.
Many of the interviewees use words like NeoCon to describe the US leaders who now advocate the right to invade whoever we want to at the whim of the president. They're even more critical of the legislative branch's voting to cede their Constitutional duty to decide matters of War to the President. After that the damage was done. All Bush had to do was tell us how to react to a decision he'd already made.
The funniest thing here is to realize how much official history has changed in two years. The story NOW is that we invaded a soverign foreign country to bring down a tyrant and to liberate a people, a fairy tale that's still maintained even though our gift of democracy has destabilized a quarter of the world, destroyed our credibility and created millions of new enemies desiring our defeat and destruction. The story TWO YEARS AGO was that we were stopping an imminent threat to the world from biological and nuclear destruction. The producer/director of Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War first decided that something was fundamentally amiss when the official word from Washington begin to shift, like journal entries in Winston Smith's books in 1984. We hadn't been looking for weapons of mass destruction, only evidence of programs to create weapons of mass destruction.
With a majority of Americans believing that Iraq was involved in the dastardly WTC attacks (see Seven Days in September if you've been on Mars the last few years) and that the secular tyrant Saddam Hussein was somehow involved with fundamentalist zealots to destroy America, Uncovered will just be propaganda. You have to listen to it and think to decide if it has merit, and people who automatically associate Nixon whistle blower John Dean with treason aren't going to get far here. Anyone who does watch will be rewarded with a show that's 99% fact. There's barely any irony, let alone sarcasm, for those fundamentally offended by the Michael Moore style.
In a sane world, the fact that Bush, Cheney, Powell, and others are shown lying repeatedly should mean something. Being grateful for living in a democracy that will tolerate dissent like this doesn't mean one has to be ashamed of telling the truth. One interviewee here was asked if opposing the war means not supporting our sons and fathers now in battle. He responds that he's had two sons in combat for this country, and that the question is garbage.
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War is clearly designed to be an influence in the coming election. There are many, many uninformed apolitical people out there who need good information untainted by the slurs against Michael Moore and this show is completely clear of it. When told that his Fahrenheit 9.11 preached to the choir, Michael Moore replied that the choir needs somethign to sing. Our present leadership depends on a big sector of the country being apathetic come voting time, almost as much as it depends on tweaking key elections when necessary (Fictitious President, anyone?). Maybe informative films like this can do some good. I'm going to put my copy into circulation as fast as I can. 1
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War purposely avoids slick packaging or editorial finesse, but the video and audio is handsomely recorded and mastered. The video clips of administration officials are of a high quality, and the interview segments are well done, with the exception of one subject who is allowed to stare unblinking into the camera like a deer caught in the headlights. There's an extra half hour of additional interview clips that some viewers will like, but the best thing about Uncovered is its relative brevity.
There are also a pair of promos for related discs, about the 2000 election fraud in Florida and the negative impact of the Patriot Act.
It's important to know what kind of dangerous people make movies like Uncovered. Producer and director Robert Greenwald has been making TV movies for 30 years, other docus but also subversive stuff like The Audrey Hepburn Story. The only complaints I have about the presentation are (1): The use of a devil-like logo by the also poorly-named Disinformation Company. The conservatives who condemn films like this don't need encouragement, as they already believe they're the work of the devil. And (2): Calling the film "the whole truth" is asking for trouble. No argument is ever the whole truth - not even when I agree with it.
Want some real advocacy? The film is available at Amazon dirt cheap ($9.95). I only do that for films that I think people need to see. Now back to really hot political movies like Pillow Talk.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
1. The best conservative
retort to Fahrenheit 9.11 has been one easily trounced by, of all people, film students. "The movie
is a lie because it's not the truth! It's a documentary, and documentaries are supposed to present
the truth, not opinions!" That's a total crock. Every docu has an agenda and wants the viewer to
come away with a particular story, the filmmaker's story. Even
a nature film has a message, usually something like "preserve nature." I used to be able to say
that the only 'pure' documentary was a picture of a cow, without comment. Just saying it's a cow
in addition to the picture presents a declarative opinion. Now with CGI, even the image of the
cow is suspect.
Fahrenheit 9.11 and Uncovered are docus, of course, but can more carefully defined as
non-fictional film essays made to support the views of the filmmaker. Show me a docu that isn't.
(Thanks here to lessons taught by professor Stephen Mamber at UCLA, 30 years ago.)