|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
Operation Enduring Freedom: America Fights Back
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
A lot of DVDs have recently been released on subjects related to 9/11 and the world events since. Some have been honest cinematic explorations of emotions, science, politics or some combination. Others have reeked of networks trying to cash in on their file footage. To see which type of film Operation Enduring Freedom: America Fights Back is you don't need to look any further than the wholly inappropriate use of the burning towers on the font of the box.
It's hard to imagine a presentation with less sense of purpose or narrative drive than Operation Enduring Freedom. Edited (from stock footage) with all the flair of an infommercial for a Franklin Mint commemorative coin, Operation Enduring Freedom seeks to summarize the events of the past year in simple terms that the whole family can understand. Educating the world isn't a bad thing but this program makes no attempt to contemplate the hurt and sorrow or the anger and determination at the root of the subject matter.
The program kicks off with a poorly shot statement from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Now, if you knew that you were going to shoot the head of the Department of Defense for your show, wouldn't you go to any length to make sure that you brought a camera that can focus properly? The producers of this program didn't bother. The home-movie quality of this segment is a bad omen, as is the lack of identification of Rumsfeld's participation in the show. The closing credits thank him and the Department of Defense and call the program a cooperative effort between the producers and the DOD. For the most part the piece feels like straight propaganda, other than a weird moment when the narrator refers to the bombers of the USS Cole as "daring."
Operation Enduring Freedom then presents a weak remake of Lee Greenwood's terrible "God Bless the USA" and a rushed, soulless retelling of the events of 9/11 before heading to war. Cheesy music and a brief history lesson on Muslim-US tension do little to help ask the tough questions: The role of oil in the relationship between the US and the Middle East and the events that led to the 1967 six-day war between Israel and its Arab neighbors are never mentioned. The program does introduce the term "blowback," however, an important concept referring to the US backing of forces in one conflict only to have those forces turn on us in the next. This is a key problem in world politics, but Operation Enduring Freedom doesn't delve into how we may be setting ourselves up for the next round of blowback with the current war on terror.
Some of the war footage is pretty interesting. Footage of airstrikes hitting targets with intense precision and nightvision footage of attacks may give insight into how a modern war is fought. Similarly, the camera tags along with some US military personnel in remote parts of Afghanistan for some views of the action there that we haven't seen much of. Granted, we have no guarantee that any of this footage is authentic as it was most likely supplied by the military who have understandable reasons to filter all outgoing information.
The main problem with Operation Enduring Freedom is its lifeless structure. The entire one-hour program feels like the introduction to a more serious piece. An off-screen narrator drones on and on about the war with images, often unrelated, paraded before our eyes. A slightly more thoughtful segment features a female reading something that sounds like a poem pleading for the liberation of the Afghan people from the Taliban over shots of the embattled women and children of that country. Again, however, Operation Enduring Freedom is disingenuous since it makes no attempt to analyze how the Taliban's replacement, the loose web of warlords and opium exporters that compose the Northern Alliance, are often as bad (and sometimes even worse) than the Taliban. Facts like that complicate the issue too much and don't make for very rah-rah patriotism.
Built out of stock footage, Operation Enduring Freedom looks like a standard cable news channel clip show. It is full-screen.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is fine.
A photo gallery.
The epitome of cashing in, there's nothing in this hour-long presentation that can't be learned in more depth from a news show or newspaper.
WTC- The First 24 Hours
New York Firefighters: The Brotherhood of 9/11
Why the Towers Fell
World Trade Center: Anatomy of the Collapse
World Trade Center - A Modern Marvel 1973-2001 Email Gil Jawetz at [email protected]