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The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

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Editorial Reviews

In September 2003, freelance Iraqi cameraman Yunis Khatayer Abbas was arrested and accused of planning to kill Tony Blair. This documentary is a fascinating portrait of an ordinary man trying to make sense of an absurd and nightmarish situation.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Yunis Khatayer Abbas
  • Directors: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein
  • Writers: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein
  • Producers: Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic, English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OU3WYC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,727 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Roland E. Zwick on July 28, 2007
Format: DVD
***1/2

"The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair" is a movie with one hell of a provocative, eye-catching title. It's only after you figure out what the movie is actually about, however, that you get the full ironic flavor of that title.

This timely documentary chronicles the story of Yunis Khatayer Abbas, a freelance Iraqi journalist who, along with two of his younger brothers, was falsely accused of planning to assassinate the British Prime Minister during one of his official trips to Baghdad. The movie makes it clear that Yunis and his siblings were innocent from the get-go, and that, after serving nine grueling months at sites including the notorious Abu Graib, they were finally released back to their worried families, with a simple muttered "sorry" from the American commanders as sole compensation for the misery they'd suffered.

The story behind the movie is almost as intriguing as the movie itself. Yunis first came to the attention of documentary filmmaker Michael Tucker when the latter was embedded with a National Guard unit - whose job it was to scour Bagdad neighborhoods for suspected terrorists and weapon caches - on the night Yunis was arrested. Yunis' pleas of innocence, as well as his assertion that he was himself a journalist, piqued the interest of Tucker, who, two years later, decided to follow up on the story and find out what had become of the man.

A large portion of the movie's 72-minute running time is dedicated to Yunis speaking freely to the camera, relating the experiences that happened to him in his own unedited words.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "Rocky Raccoon" VINE VOICE on June 28, 2007
Format: DVD
Facetiously, 'The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair' has playful videos by the beach accompanied to frenetic music that sounds like it comes straight from 'Pulp Fiction'. Despite his ordeal, Iraqi journalist Abbas conveys warmth and humor looking into the camera, spending most of the documentary time being interviewed about his time in Abu Ghraib prison. Never actually told to this day about his crime, he was nevertheless implicated with the tongue-in-cheek title of this revealing film.

Most of the revelations, however, aren't funny. For someone like me who has believed that people have overreacted to the abuses of The Geneva Convention, this movie is an eye-opener. First of all Abbas has been on both sides of the fence. As a journalist and camerman, he was a first hand victim of Uday Hussein's government, imprisoned during a "speech embargo" and subjected to electrical torture in prison. How welcome do the words of President Bush come as a slide show of pictures show Saddam Hussein's statue being toppled with his regime. Then, he is hit with another nightmare. Caught at a discoteque with his two younger brothers, Khalid and Yuris, he goes to Camp Ganci at Abu Ghraib where conditions are grim. Besides being a facility that's vulnerable to shell fire, riots, contaminated food, beatings, and disease were part and parcel of their lives.

Abbas sincerity rings true in this documentary. What is striking is how US soldier Thompson authenticates the story. Not seeming vengeful or jaundiced Thompson shares what we already know: After the debacle of abuses hit the airwaves, a makeover was presented. Thompson came during that makeover. Asked to not acquire his predecessors' transgressions, he comprised a fresh crew that was meant to sweep the abuses away.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By 13 Fox on June 5, 2007
Format: DVD
"The Prisoner" tells the story of Yunis Abbas, an Iraqi cameraman who was arrested along with his brothers in 2003 for planning to kill Tony Blair and spent 9 months in Abu Ghraib before the army released him.

On the surface, we read about stuff like this every day, but the triumph of 'The Prisoner" is not so much the story that it tells, but the way the story is told. For the first time, we are able to see the war from the perspective of a man who could be any of us--a friend, family or a neighbor. Most importantly, Yunis tells his story with a surprisingly sharp sense of humor--his entire tale his paved with black comedy and the film often feels like it came straight off one of Kafka's pages.

I highly recommend this film to anyone seeking a better understanding of the human side of the war beyond the headlines.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Green Manalishi on November 20, 2007
Format: DVD
Because of all the footage of Iraq, it brings awareness of the situation to the viewer from people who played a part in its story. While the topic is deadly serious, cartoon narrations and Abbas's genial personality often keep the story from feeling overly horrific, though the reality of the situation sits there plainly enough in ironic contrast to the tone of the narrative.
As the movie progresses we are led into the world of Abu Ghraib. An American prison guard details the risk at which prisoners were put due to bomb threats to Abu Ghraib, and the difficult situation he as a guard is put into where it is his duty on one hand to keep people who are basically no longer viewed as a serious threat in a high risk location, and still try to preserve their safety. Doesn't condemn. Just tells it as it was for him.

I would have liked to have had more subtitles in English for when Abbas is telling his story (there are some). Music in the soundtrack and sound effects are clear enough, though voices of interviewees and Abbas himself were sometimes low enough to where I felt I wasn't always catching everything being said.

Information and personal experience of Abu Ghraib, some video, photos and interviews; told by an Iraqi who was there.

Informative and good for research purposes, and a general raising of awareness of some of what has gone into the war in Iraq.
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