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Occupation: Dreamland (Unrated)

Release Date: September 23rd, 2005 (NYC-Cinema Village)
Directed by Ian Olds and Garret Scott.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne soldiers whose mission is to bring control and safety to Fallujah, an Iraqi city.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Every day and every minute, the American soldiers in Iraq face the threat of violence from civilians. This riveting documentary takes you right into the intense moments of these soldiers. What makes this film truly engaging is that the interviews the soldiers bring out their character and individuality. They are indeed part of a group with the same mission, but they all have something interesting and provocative to say. One soldiers talks about how he got into trouble back home and was forced to join the army. Another soldier claims that he had no choice but to become a soldier because he didn't have what it takes to attend college. The truly horrifying moments are when they confront the Iraqi civilians and ask them to express their opinions about the soldiers' mission. Not surprisingly, they criticize the Americans for not really helping with anything, i.e, there is no gas or substantial food and water---many of them live in poverty. There is one very shocking scene when the soldiers raid a house with suspected terrorists and treat every family member an animal. The cinematography perfectly captures the nail-biting moments of action as the soldiers struggle to survive---not all of them do. On top of that, it is refreshing how well-balanced this film is. On one side, the soldiers are treated like puppets of a government that is too ambitious and controlling. On the other hand, they are there to serve their country and be heroes. It is nice to hear the soldiers and civilians express themselves. However, ultimately, it is difficult to figure out which argument is true without being there yourself. This mystery is what makes this documentary much more complex than your average documentary. It would have been interesting to hear their reactions after they return home, but that should be saved for another documentary.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It is irrelevant whether or not this documentary provides crystal-clear answers. What is relevant is that it at least makes you question our government that sends young adults into harms way. These soldiers barely had a chance to experience life after high school. They think they know what they're doing, but they really don't. At the same, time it is their duty to serve their country and simply obey orders. Somebody has to do this job! But what this film leaves you with is that just because it's mandatory, doesn't make it right.



THE BOTTOM LINE: This surprisingly well-balanced documentary tackles important and timely issues about war with surprising honesty and insight!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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