IMDb review: tmcnabb104 from United States (May 2005)
Gunner Palace, a documentary by Michael Tucker that follows the U.S. Army's 2/3 Field Artillery for two months while the cope with occupation duty in Iraq. The title is a conflation of the nickname of the unit, The Gunners, and the fact that they have set up shop in a bombed out palace of Uday Hussein.
I can't find it on the web, but I read a bio that the filmmaker served in the mid to late 80s, roughly the same time I was in the Army. I've latched onto the fact (and I hope it is true) because it explains the tone of the film. When I walked out, I told Jim, who had seen it with me, that this guy wanted to make an anti-war movie, but couldn't quite bring himself to do it.
What we see is as much cinema verities we are likely to get in this politically radioactive conflict. Tucker lets the young troops pretty much be young troops for the camera. They all to some extent (and one in particular a great deal) mug for the camera and utter their doubts, concerns and reveal their conflicts. There don't appear to be many people above the age of thirty, though I find it hard to believe that an entire battalion would be so comprised.
We also see soldier show great restraint in difficult situations. In one scene, a drugged out, dirty and bedraggled street urchin is delivered to a place where he will hopefully find some sort of care. The GIs are careful, almost solicitous of the child, demonstrating a great deal of tenderness when considered in context of the fact that they are in a city where they are compelled to carry heavy weapons and wear body armor.
There is a lot of very scraggly video of nighttime raids. Bear in mind that field artillerymen are trained to shoot high-explosives over the horizon and wreck stuff, not tool around a foreign capital like cops. Again, these young men show tremendous restraint as they round up people suspected of manufacturing roadside bombs and lobbing mortars at their temporary home.
You feel a sense of futility at times as you watch, but a 60 day snapshot of a difficult mission is going to do that. Some of the soldiers make statements that could be found on you garden variety Bush = Hitler website, and it broke my heart. What they are doing is noble and necessary given the condition of the world, though a 20 year old would be hard pressed to put it into proper context. It is a shame for anyone over there doing their best to not feel their due honor.
If you rabidly feel one should speak-no-evil of the war while we are at war, Gunner Palace will irk you or worse. I found it to be sufficiently truthful and sincere to be a must-see. Pro-war and anti-war folk will find inspiration, which may mean it was done just about right.
Good, truthful documentary - a little heavy on the downer - 9/10
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AVI File Details
Name.........: Gunner Palace (2004) Iraq Conflict and Occupation (XviD 1h25m) ConRes.avi
Filesize.....: 693 MB (or 710,536 KB or 727,588,864 bytes)
Runtime......: 01:25:17 (127,785 fr)
Video Codec..: XviD
Video Bitrate: 990 kb/s
Audio Codec..: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 139 kb/s (69/ch, stereo) VBR LAME3.92
Frame Size...: 576x320 (1.80:1) [=9:5]
Ripper ......: p2P2p