Thursday , May 23 2024
A good movie with disturbing content.

Movie Review: The Road to Guantanamo

To: President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
From: A voter
Re: Guantanamo Bay  

Hey, guys, I just saw a movie that you need to see. It is about the “Tipton Three,” three Muslim British citizens held without charges for two years at Guantanamo Bay before being released in March 2004. 

Warning: You may not like what you see. But that seems fair to me since I have not liked a lot of what I have seen happen during the last six years in the name of the war on terror.

The movie, The Road to Guantanamo, is part documentary and part dramatization as it alternates between interviews with the three men and re-enactments of what they went through. 

The film is not officially released until June 23 but I'm sure with all your secret wiretapping and espionage and tracking of activities online, you can find a way to see an advance screening. Or you can go see it in a public theater when it is released.

Now, you may get spat on or heckled by moviegoers who despise you for your attacks on civil liberties. Your intentions are good, I hope, but the road to hell, they say, is paved with those. If anyone does spit on you, consider this: anything that happens to you will pale compared to what was done to those who were tortured. 

Speaking of the torture, I wrote recently about the censorship of a promotional poster for this movie. The original poster showed someone with a hood on their head, a common practice in Guantanamo Bay if news articles, Blogcritics articles, and this movie are to be believed. 

But the Motion Picture Association of America rejected this poster for not meeting its standards. So the poster was changed to be less provocative. While I hope a wide range of people from the whole spectrum of political views goes to see this movie, my concern is it will only draw those who already abhor torture. 

You guys, especially George, like to paint the world in black and white. Thus you are either for fighting terrorists, or against it. You are either for the troops, or against the troops. I run into people using that logic when we discuss the “terror suspects” at Guantanamo Bay.

The logic goes like this: They would not be being tortured, let alone in prison, were they not guilty of something. And that, in a nutshell, is why this movie is so important, and why it should be viewed by people on all sides of the torture and war debate.

This is the story of three people whose crime, if you want to call it that, is being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The three were heading to a wedding in Pakinstan when they were captured.

The weakest part of the movie is the first 30 minutes which chronicles their travels from Britain toward Pakistan. They are in Afghanistan during bombings and that is when they are apprehended. 

Those first 30 minutes are important to provide context and an explanation for their location but they could have been tighter. But once they are held as terror suspects the movie becomes truly horrifying, more disturbing than most horror movies. 

I often thought of mice in cages as I watched the prisoners – these three and others – being treated like trash and punished if they did anything they were not supposed to do. Move in order to pray? Punished. Put a blanket on your head to battle the heat? Punished. Try to talk to another prisoner? Punished.

At times hoods were put on them, making me think about the movie poster controversy. Some explanation would have been helpful to explain what the intent was with the hoods and other actions by the guards and interrogators.

The interrogators are shown doing the kind of good cop/bad cop trickery that is so often done on television programs. Only this time you know the guys are innocent and nobody seems interested in their claims to that effect. 

What’s that? Oh, you don’t want to pay to see a movie that brings to life the worst case scenario of innocent people being tortured and held in military prisons?  I'm sure Amnesty International would pay for your admission to this movie, especially if it will help clarify issues in your mind.

If not I’m sure you can find people at this human rights site who would gladly help ensure this movie is seen by you and others. 

This movie will blow your mind but in a good way. See it.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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