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Body of War - The True Story of an Anti-War Hero

27 customer reviews

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(Oct 28, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Paralyzed from the chest down after serving in Iraq for just one week, 25-year-old Tomas Young is forced to deal with the realities of war each and every day. For Tomas, learning to cope with his disability meant finding his voice to speak out against the war in Iraq.

Directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro and set to the haunting vocals of Eddie Vedder, the multi award-winning BODY OF WAR splits its time between Tomas s arduous daily reality in Kansas City, MO, and the legislative processes that led up to the invasion of Iraq in 2002.

Senatorial speeches and a running tally of pro-war votes are interspliced with intimate footage of Tomas as he navigates through the acute physical and emotional impacts of his injury. A testament to the power of parallel images, the film adeptly juxtaposes the sanitized vantage point of Washington with raw personal experience. In the end, this contrast forces viewers to question the motives, methods, and ever-rising cost of the conflict in Iraq.

A deeply moving and bracingly honest film, BODY OF WAR narrates a story that must be heard a story of courage, conviction, and resistance.

DVD Features: Eddie Vedder Music Video No More; MSNBC interview with Phil Donahue; CSPAN coverage of the House and Senate debates; Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Trailer; Filmmaker Biographies

At the center of Body of War is Tomas Young, a smart, determined guy who enlisted in the military the day after he saw President Bush stride through the ruins of the World Trade Center. He expected to be sent to Afghanistan to get the people who attacked his country; instead, he was shipped to Iraq, where he took a bullet through the collarbone a week after arriving and was paralyzed for life from the chest down. Young's subsequent struggle to be heard, by speaking out and questioning why U.S. soldiers went to Iraq, is chronicled in this film. Directors Phil Donahue (yes, talkshow host Phil Donahue) and Ellen Spiro cast a wider net, which is where the film begins to feel a little scattered, even if their cause is a fervent one. The Senate vote on authorizing the Bush plan for Iraq is a running theme, with the names of the voters emblazoned on the screen (this would be an even more effective drumbeat if it weren't drowning in overbearing music). Meanwhile, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, an old political hand with a checkered past, emerges as the voice of Constitutional sanity. His soaring speeches leading up to the crucial vote are excerpted at length, so it's no surprise that he and Tomas Young should eventually meet. But whatever the film's ambitions, its finest moments are in following Young and bluntly assessing (with considerable physical detail) his status. Original songs by Eddie Vedder are judiciously placed and passionately delivered. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Eddie Vedder music video "No More"
  • MSNBC interview with Phil Donahue
  • CSPAN coverage of the House and Senate debates
  • Bill Moyers Journal: Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Filmmaker biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Tomas Young
  • Directors: Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: October 28, 2008
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001C4N5K0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Body of War - The True Story of an Anti-War Hero" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. L LaRegina on August 8, 2008
Format: DVD
As I write this in August 2008, the documentary BODY OF WAR has yet to find wide release in movie theaters. I saw the film at an independent screening that included an appearance by director Phil Donahue. According to Mr. Donahue, because of previously unsuccessful films dealing with the current Iraq war/occupation distributors passed on this story of Tomas Young, an American soldier a bullet paralyzes.

The fate of BODY OF WAR reflects the reason the failed Iraq conflict continues. Most Americans know there is no good explanation for invading and occupying Iraq. Yet too few protest and even fewer appear willing to even see a movie about it. Tens of thousands die and millions suffer but it does not seem to affect Americans enough for the tragedy to end.

America invaded Iraq because many in Congress and other positions of power turned blind eyes and deaf ears to the Bush administration's lies. Today almost everyone wants it to stop, yet those same men and women in authority let the violence carry on. As long as too many Americans seemingly do little more than wish the Iraq disaster would go away, it won't.

Thus it is no surprise to see BODY OF WAR passages depicting the poor health care Tomas Young and other Iraq veterans receive from the government. Just as George W. Bush doesn't want the public to see coffins with a return address "Iraq," Congress and he give the wounded soldiers as little attention as possible. Bush and Congress continue spending billions on death and destruction but Mr. Young receives such insufficient help from the country he served, it falls on his wife and mother to get him through the day.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Janowski on May 1, 2009
Format: DVD
Contrary to popular belief. War is not pretty. War does not create heros. War leaves no one untouched. For any parent thinking their sons or daughters can go to war and come back relatively unscathed, think again.

War does two things very creates orphans and it creates children. Tomas is one of those children. Tomas came back from Iraq and now depends on this mother and others to take care of him. No scene says this more than mom helping Tomas insert a cath in the back of their van.

Tomas has no choice anymore. He is a child in his mother's care just as much as any new born would be.

To watch Tomas struggle so much after proudly serving his country is beyond sad. To watch Tomas struggle just to get the medical and attention he deserves from the US is also beyond sad.

UPDATE: upon learning of the death of Tomas Young, i decided to revisit this film. Still just as impactful after the intensity of anti-war efforts have died down. What I had totally forgotten were the efforts of Sen. Robert Byrd to talk some sense into his fellow senators.

RIP Tomas. You are a hero in my eyes, not for going to war and taking a bullet, but for returning home and not shying away from showing everyone the horrific aftermath of war.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Gould on November 2, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have seen this film three times and am dismayed that so few will have the chance to see it because some suit declared it not commercial. I took my children to see this film and it really affected them.
This is not just another anti-war film, it is the story of what happens to our veterans when they get home and about the unsung heroes in life. Everyone who supports veterans should feel an obligation to see this film. Everyone who believes that there are no more honest decent politicians owe it to themselves to allow Senator Robert Byrd to crush our callousness. Everyone who thinkss they would never sit idlely by while evil was done in their names, allow this film to make you think again. If you love America, PLEASE PLEASE SEE THIS FILM AND PASS IT ON TO SOMEONE ELSE.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on February 26, 2009
Format: DVD
"Body Of War" is a tough, heartfelt documentary that focuses on those who are directly hit by a government's war policies: The soldiers. Yes, it is true that George W. Bush has left the White House, but Barack Obama is preparing to expand the war in Afghanistan and is reportedly planning to keep up to 50,000 troops in Iraq even after a proposed 19 month pullout. So Americans can expect to continue debating our current status as a country at war. However Tomas Young's story might make a viewer think twice about supporting the continuation of the current war policies.

Young was a young American naturally enraged by the September 11 terrorist attacks, watching Dubya rally the troops from the top of the World Trade Center wreckage, Young's patriotism was awakened and he enlisted in the army. Barely seven days into his service in Iraq, Young was shot and paralyzed. "Body Of War" captures Young's physical and mental struggles, and shows us a veteran returning home to discover that his government basically swindled the country into war, using lies and propaganda to invade Iraq. Like Ron Kovic of "Born On The Fourth Of July," Young joins the antiwar movement and uses his story to spread truth.

Directors Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro have crafted here an interesting document of a dark, divisive time in American history. Without having to resort to the more detailed, grand scale of films like "Why We Fight" or "Fahrenheit 9/11," they capture the human side of the suffering and raging debate the Iraq war has caused. We see the differences in public opinion even in Young's family: His mother has become an intense antiwar protester while his father remains a staunch right-wing Republican, a fan of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Even Young's younger brother signs up and ships out to Iraq.
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