From Jim Gilliam's blog archivesUncovered is "slowly making waves"
July 6, 2004 9:39 AM
Dallas Morning News:
Subtle 'Uncovered' carries just as big a stike as '9/11'
Michael Moore's showy Fahrenheit 9/11 clearly is the big noisemaker in the campaign against the Bush administration's war in Iraq. But veteran producer/director Robert Greenwald's quieter, though certainly not gentler, approach may prove to be a sturdier vehicle in the long run.
His 87-minute Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War is a low-budget, bread-and-butter documentary powered by a wealth of talking heads rather than a cache of flamboyant filmic touches. Many of these 25 opponents of the Iraqi war have worked at top levels of the government, the military or the CIA.
Among them is Col. Mary Ann Wright, a 26-year U.S. Army veteran who resigned from the Foreign Service early last year in protest of the decision to invade Iraq. Ms. Wright offers searing criticism of President Bush's May 1, 2003, landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, which brandished a "Mission Accomplished" banner at the time.
"You don't want your president to be seen as a hot dog," she says. "And when your president gets into a jumpsuit and gets in the back of a jet and lands on an aircraft carrier and then waddles out with his little straps between his legs ... ."
She briefly halts and then fires a second round: "You want a sign of maturity and not testosterone blasting through when you're talking about things so fundamentally important as sending a nation to war and sending young men and women to their deaths."
One of Mr. Greenwald's production partners is the hardly impartial MoveOn.org, openly dedicated to defeating Mr. Bush's re-election bid. On Friday, it opened a new offensive by commissioning filmmaker Errol Morris, director of the Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War, to direct a series of ads starring "real Americans instead of actors." Their "powerful stories about the failures of Bush's policies" are scheduled to hit TV screens during the Democratic National Convention, which begins July 26 in Boston.
MoveOn also has sponsored screenings of Uncovered at house parties throughout the country and says that more than 100,000 DVD copies have been sold via the Internet. Cable's Sundance Channel plans to premiere the documentary Sept. 6, just four days after Mr. Bush accepts his party's nomination at the Republican National Convention in New York City.
Mr. Greenwald, 58, has been making TV movies since 1975 and also directed Olivia Newton-John's less than esteemed Xanadu musical in 1980. His TV work ranges from 1984's Emmy-nominated The Burning Bed (starring Farrah Fawcett as a battered woman) to 2000's The Audrey Hepburn Story, with Jennifer Love Hewitt in the title role. He prepped for Uncovered with Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, which questioned whether George W. Bush won the White House fair and square.
Uncovered was screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival but otherwise wasn't entered to compete against Mr. Moore's prizewinning Fahrenheit 9/11. It begins with cut-and-dried introductions of all 25 interview subjects, hardly an approach designed to quickly grab the attention of younger viewers. But Mr. Greenwald is determined to be deliberate, compiling a case against the war by counterpunching the warnings Mr. Bush and his top-level lieutenants used to justify it.
"Delay and indecision and inaction could lead to a massive and sudden horror," the president said early on.
"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," agreed National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Critics say the intelligence used to buttress the buildup to war amounted to leftovers served on different dinnerware.
"They call this data mining, going back over old information and coming up with new conclusions," says former CIA operative Robert Baer, who spent 21 years in the Middle East.
Uncovered is at its most persuasive in dissecting Secretary of State Colin Powell's pivotal Feb. 5, 2003, address to the U.N. Security Council.
"Leaving Saddam in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option," Mr. Powell declared while CIA Director George Tenet, who since has resigned, sat directly behind him in a show of solidarity.
"It was a masterful performance, but none of it is true," contends ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who describes Mr. Tenet as "a prop, almost like a potted plant."
Those who question the war say no one in turn should question their allegiance to the United States.
"I don't think it's patriotic to stand by and remain silent while your country stumbles into disaster," says Chas Freeman, the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
This obviously is an advocacy film dedicated to the proposition that the Iraq war is a grand-scale mistake. But it's also fairer-minded than Fahrenheit 9/11, which has made its big splash with a belly-flop while Uncovered slowly makes waves.
More from the archive in Uncovered.
Uncovered is "slowly making waves" (07.06.2004)
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