A poorly prepared soldier is one of many who go too far in Nick Broomfield’s Battle For Haditha.
BATTLE FOR HADITHA (Seville, 2007) D: Nick Broomfield, w/ Elliot Ruiz, Falah Flayeh. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNNN Rating: NNNN
On November 19, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq, a squad of Marines lost a man to a roadside bomb. Hunting the bombers, they swept through three nearby houses and killed 24 Iraqis, including women and children. When the story got out, they were charged with murder.
Nick Broomfield's recreation of that event is powerfully horrifying, enraging and not at all manipulative. No heroes, no slavering fanatics.
It's the Marines' story, but the bombers and civilians get ample screen time and the same even-handed treatment. Broomfield's hand-held camera and long takes give an absolute sense of reality.
Former Marines who served in Iraq and Iraqi refugees make up the mostly amateur cast. They've all been through some version of the Iraq nightmare, and it shows in their convincing performances.
Shooting in Jordan near the Iraq border, Broomfield housed his cast in the buildings where they performed: a barracks for the Marines, homes for the Iraqis. He talks about what it did to his actors in an excellent commentary that ranges over the shoot, the people, his research and the conduct of the war.
In Elliot Ruiz's (Corporal Ramirez) emotional commentary, he relives his own experiences of Marine life, discussing the shoot and the precise moment the characters go off the deep end. They are not pleasant memories, and they make for a commentary - the only one - I'd call disturbing.
EXTRAS Two commentaries. Widescreen.