Let’s play a trivia game: I’ll give you the plot, you tell me the movie. Here’s the plot:
During war, a girl is taken from her village by five American soldiers. Four of the soldiers rape her, but the fifth refuses. The young girl is killed. The fifth soldier is determined that justice will be done. The film is more about the realities of war, rather than this single event.
If you answered Redacted, the controversial new film by Brian DePalma and Mark Cuban, you’re half right. It turns out that Cuban, who financed and produced the DePalma-directed film, might want to have a word with his director for coughing up a recycled plot from 1989’s Casualties of War.
That film starred Michael J. Fox as a sergeant in Vietnam who stood up to his evil superior, played by Hugo Chavez’s biggest fan, Sean Penn, after the latter led a group of rogue US troops on a rape and pillage quest reminiscent of the armies of Jenjis Khan. Here’s a clip, with the appropriate language alert.
Here’s Redacted‘s plot summary:
Inspired by real events and the ever-emerging realities of an on-going war, “Redacted” explores the consequences of placing a group of young American soldiers into a morally ambiguous universe. Pushed to their very limits, the film portrays the tragic events surrounding a US army squad that targets and persecutes an innocent Iraqi girl and her family, culminating in a brutal rape and murder. The film addresses the innocent casualties of war and reveals the general helplessness surrounding the war in Iraq. A fictional version of the truth, “Redacted” forces the viewer to question the filters through which we see and accept events in our world. Ultimately, “Redacted” begs the question: Once we know the truth, what is the value of war and the worth of all its tragedies?
And Casualties of War:
During the Vietnam war, a girl is taken from her village by five American soldiers. Four of the soldiers rape her, but the fifth refuses. The young girl is killed. The fifth soldier is determined that justice will be done. The film is more about the realities of war, rather than this single event.
Unpopular war, soldiers raping and murdering local girl, one troops stands up to all the bad ones around him: That describes both Redacted and Casualties of War. They’re basically the same film, made by the same director, 18 years apart and set in different wars. The aging DePalma has become such a hack that he’s now stealing from his younger, more talented self.
What was that famous William Randolph Hearst quote about the Spanish-American War? Oh yeah — “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” Brian DePalma has flipped that around a bit — “You furnish the war, and I’ll furnish the enemy agitprop.”
(thanks to TCS)