Recently in American cinema, there have been of a number of films released that tackle the contentious issue of the war in Iraq. Perhaps the most controversial of these films is Brian De Palma’s Redacted, which unlike its counterparts such as Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah, eschews traditional narrative for a multimedia format. Redacted is comprised of several media forms—a U.S. soldier’s video diary, U.S. and foreign news footage, a European documentary—which De Palma uses to reveal how images of war are seen and how they are filtered through a media lens.
The central image of Redacted is the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the subsequent murders of her family members at the hands of U.S. soldiers, a heinous act based on the actual rape and murder of 15-year old Abeer Qasim Hamza in March 2006. While most critics have dismissed Redacted as heavy-handed "war porn," De Palma has still received praise for his use of multimedia formats and was the recipient of the Best Director award at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. Reviewers have also noted the significant nods to Jean-Luc Godard, one of De Palma’s main influences, particularly in light of the self-reflexive nature of the film and its discussion of knowledge, truth and how it is represented through media.
Perhaps most well-known for films such as Carrie and Scarface which have become iconic in American popular culture, Brian De Palma shows depth and boldness with Redacted, directorial or creative missteps aside. Eyal Peretz’s Becoming Visionary: Brian De Palma's Cinematic Education of the Senses explores that depth, bridging the disciplines of film and philosophy through a careful reading of De Palma’s work. Peretz shows how De Palma’s technique and choice of images create meaning, sparking examinations of trauma, representation, and cinema as technology.
Peretz discusses Carrie as well as less successful films such as 2002’s Femme Fatale, giving each film a thorough analysis regardless of critical praise, or lack thereof. While Redacted might not catch on in the cinematic world, Peretz might argue that, with a more philosphical approach, it deserves a second glance.