Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Generation Kill

I'd just like to write a quick recommendation of Generation Kill, the Iraq War miniseries (based on the book by Evan Wright) currently airing on HBO (six episodes in already, so catch reruns or get it On Demand).

Picking up right where they left off with The Wire, the writer/producer team of David Simon and Ed Burns set their sights on the US military. Not the men and women of the US military (they are portrayed honestly, neither heroes nor monsters, all nuanced characters in their own right), but the way the institution itself functions. It's not quite Catch-22, but it has a similar outlook. It deftly links the general disfunction of the military chain of command to the now-legendary mistakes that doomed the US adventure in Iraq.

The action is impressively staged, and there is little evidence of a TV budget. It looks convincing, quite a compliment in this age of 24 hour news, with pictures of Iraq beamed into our houses every night.

I don't know if I would put this quite in the same strata as The Wire, limited as this is by its setting and lack of dramatic license. There is nothing quite like that show's five year deconstruction of the ills of modern American society, but this is a worthy follow-up, and the first serious attempt (in my opinion) to deal with the Iraq war, either on television or on film. Although I'm still waiting for a definitive treatment of the US occupation of Iraq, which is much more representative of the American experience in that country as a whole. This is limited to those crazy days of Spring 2003, when anything seemed possible (but actually wasn't).

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