Body of War Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue

Body of War Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue
Drawing a parallel with the danger of rash and uneducated decisions, be it going to war with a country that does not pose a threat or joining an army to fight the fight of someone who does not know what they are doing, Body of War succeeds in telling both stories individually but struggles to connect them. Painting the American senate as a bunch of mindless drones with pre-packaged, uniform arguments comes easily to the doc but mirroring this with the story of Tomas Young, a young man paralyzed in Iraq who suffers daily both emotionally and physically as a result, proves more challenging. Most of this comes from efforts to blame George (Dubya) Bush for exploiting uneducated and idealistic 20-year olds without wanting to imply that Young and his brother are (or were) themselves ignorant, instead choosing to infer heroism and honour in fighting while pointing out how stupid the war is. Young’s story, on its own, is heartbreaking and powerful, especially the documentation of the eventual, and inevitable, breakdown of his marriage because of his injuries. However, a continued element of surprise surrounding the possibility that those who go to war might come back either dead or injured hinders both the exploitation angle as well as the attempted mirrored parallels. Some effort is made to remedy this in the final act with a woefully contrived meeting between Tomas Young and Senator Byrd (a senator strongly opposed to the war) but comes across as "too little too late.” The DVD includes a music video with Eddie Vedder, along with a 2002 MSNBC interview between Donahue and Senator Byrd (shot well before this documentary) and a Bill Moyers interview with both Donahue and Spiro. In the latter interview, Spiro is well spoken and interesting while Donahue is outright embarrassing to watch. Trailer, CSPAN coverage and "Take Action” web-links are also available. (Paradox)