Michael Winterbottom :: UK :: 2005 :: 1h35
Four Englishmen set off to Pakistan for the marriage of one of them, when they decide to continue on to Afghanistan at the onset of the US military action there. They get arrested, sent to a prison, then to the Guantanamo Bay prison, and only 2.5 years later return home to the UK. This dramatised documentary retraces the recent history of the gross misconduct by the (mostly to blame) US government, known in the press as the Tipton Three (the fourth was ‘lost’ in Afghanistan). The intention of the film is to bring home the message, if it was not clear enough already, that the US military conduct is completely unacceptable on the issue of arrests and interrogations (torture is used and there is no access to lawyers, neither are they charged with anything).
One of the burning questions, even after having watched the film, is why did they go to Afghanistan? Their detention and endless interrogation fired this question at them, and, as a viewer, you can not help but wonder the same thing. Of course, it does not change the criticism of the immoral conduct towards them (they should have been charged and sentenced/ acquitted), but surely the movie should have answered this. Their story is well known and torture is not difficult to imagine -we can do without the images- so why not tackle the question at its core? The title suggests just that. They were not saints, but that has nothing to do with arbitrary arrest and detention. If the movie is to show their side of the story, surely we could expect more than the press coverage we have already had?
On the more technical side, the movie is not particularly well made, and looks more like it was intended for television than cinema. But it is difficult to speak negatively of any brave attempt to combat injustice, and I hope it contributes to all the other efforts done in the US, Europe and elsewhere to bring an end to this inhumane story.
(At the time of writing, people are still being held without charge by the US military under unacceptable conditions.)