Full Battle Rattle (DVD)
DIRECTED BY - Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber
IndiePix Price: $17.95
RUNTIME - 85 minutes
RATING - Not Rated
YEAR - 2008
FORMAT - DVD Region 1
An intriguing and sometimes intimate documentary, FULL BATTLE RATTLE is an important peek behind the curtains on military preparations for the most dangerous stage of all: the war in Iraq. The film opens with what appears to be a deadly ambush of a U.S. military patrol in Iraq. In fact, it is one of the many simulations conducted at the U.S. Army's National Training Center in California's Mojave Desert. There, the film follows one particular battalion's travails as they engage in a variety of combat and cultural exercises in the fictitious Iraqi town of Medina Wasl. Led by Lt. Col. Robert McLaughlin, the battalion will have two weeks to show their mettle as they respond to a full range of scenarios, from the promise of reconstruction to the dangers of insurgency, before deploying to Iraq. Also doing their part are some 1,600 actors employed to bring these scenarios to life--everyone from returning U.S. soldiers now playing rebel insurgents to homesick native Iraqis anxious to lead a more secure life in America. Directors Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss take a decidedly impartial attitude towards their subject, though telling moments include one soon-to-be-deployed soldier's frustration at seeing an Iraqi celebrate his U.S. citizenship. And when we learn that the base is being retooled for operations in Afghanistan, FULL BATTLE RATTLE brings home a powerful message of the difference between fantasy and reality in times of war.
"[T]he film's most lasting image is of foreign intervention destined for disaster at the dry-run phase, let alone in the field."
- Film Comment Staff, Film Comment