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The War Tapes

3.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Straight from the front lines in iraq, this is the first war movie filmed by the soldiers themselves, who poignantly tell a story that never makes it into the evening news or the morning paper.


Reduced from some 800 hours of raw footage to one compelling, 96-minute film, The War Tapes, while not the first documentary about U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq (cf. 2006's Off to War, which covers similar ground), is unusual insofar as it was shot entirely by men on active duty in Iraq--specifically three National Guardsmen (or "citizen soldiers," as they call themselves) from New Hampshire who served in that benighted country in 2004. The three are by no means alike. Spc. Mike Moriarty is a patriot who, much to the dismay of his family, re-enlisted after 9/11 and frankly hopes to be "someone's hero." Sgt. Steve Pink is motor-mouthed wiseacre who grows increasingly cynical as his tour plays out. Sgt. Zack Bazzi, a Lebanese-American who speaks fluent Arabic, reads The Nation and doesn't much care for George W. Bush, but is nonetheless ready to fight. Yet despite their differences, their experiences are similarly grim. After some training at home, we see them arrive in the Mideast, where the first words they hear are, "Welcome to Iraq. Only one year to go," followed shortly by a mortar explosion near Camp Anaconda, their base. Thereafter, we see them in a variety of settings: in Baghdad and Fallujah, on the road (their duties include escorting truck convoys), fighting insurgents (several of the battle scenes are very intense and fairly graphic), in the camp cafeteria (where one of them excoriates Halliburton, who seems to have a hand in every aspect of the war effort, for charging the government $28 for a single styrofoam plate), in their quarters (their idea of recreation is staging a death match between a scorpion and a spider), and so on; we also visit their families back in New Hampshire. What emerges from all of this is a striking portrait of bitterness, resignation, and outright hostility, especially towards Iraqis on both sides. Moriarty perhaps sums it up most succinctly when they return to the States: "I'm so glad I went. I hated it with a god-awful passion, and I will not go back... I've done my part... It's someone else's turn." Nearly two hours of bonus material includes extended outtakes and extra footage, follow-up interviews with the three soldiers, and more. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • Outtakes and extended scenes
  • Never-before-seen combat footage
  • Three brand-new follow-up interviews with the soldiers
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Zack Bazzi, Duncan Domey, Ben Flanders, Mike Moriarty, Steve Pink
  • Directors: Deborah Scranton
  • Producers: Steve James, Adam Singer, Chuck Lacy, Dal LaMagna, Lauren Timmons
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000O76ZOY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The War Tapes" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kyle Tolle on May 17, 2007
Format: DVD
`The War Tapes' is a unique documentary recorded by 3 soldiers in the New Hampshire Army National Guard during their one year deployment in Iraq. Using cameras mounted on vehicle turrets, dashboards, and helmets along with utilizing night vision devices and thermal imagers, this compilation is assembled from over 800 hours of footage. Sergeants Steve Pink and Zack Brazzi, along with Specialist Michael Moriarty are the central characters that carry the cameras and capture the images.

Almost from the first day on the ground in country, powerful and unsettling footage is shown from mortar attacks, ambushes, firefights, explosions, and injuries sustained from soldiers and civilians alike in Iraq. The video is graphic and intense and it leaves a serious impression about what soldiers have to endure in Iraq. You can get a sense of the underlying tension and anxiety experienced by these soldiers as they narrate what they've seen and felt. Also shown are their attitudes and thoughts regarding why America is in Iraq and the consequences of the war.

In-between segments of the documentary, footage is shown with Michael Moriarty's wife, Zack Bazzi's mother, and Steve Pink's girlfriend. They all put on a brave face but you can sense the emotional turmoil of having loved ones so far away in such a dangerous environment. The families at home also share their mixed feelings about the American involvement in Iraq and the difficulties of being on their own. Upon re-deploying back to the United States, there are physical and emotional changes evident in the returning soldiers and it is significant in how this affects a person's lifestyle and relationships.
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Format: DVD
In 2004 Deborah Scranton was invited to join a New Hampshire National Guard unit being deployed to Iraq as an imbedded journalist. She and producing partner Charles Lacy had a different idea: why not provide the soldiers with miniDV camaras and let them record what they experienced. What resulted was some 800 hours of footage that was edited into the brillant 97 minutes of the War Tapes.

The story follows the day to day lives of three soldiers from training to return from duty one year later. Mike Moriority is a hard line patriot who wanted to be deployed to Iraq as a result of what he saw at 9-11. Steven Pink is a wise cracking college graduate who thinks service will make him a better man. Jack Bazzi is a Lebanese emigre who uses his knowledge of Arabic to give us a unique view of the culture.

Through these men we see the horror of war close up. The footage is graphic and haunting and is not always easy to watch but it is essential. There is more to be seen and talked about here than in 10 conventional war films. Whether you are pro war or antiwar there is something here that you can take in and discuss with others. The essential question is the age old one:why are we fighting. To some it is to bring democracy to the Iraqi people to others the ony real reason is for the oil and to make money for corporations like Haliburton.

Do yourself a favor and seek this one out and make the choice for yourself. Excellent and well recommended.
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Format: DVD
`War Tapes' is a great documentary because it is made and narrated by the soldiers fighting in Iraq. Three men from New Hampshire share different backgrounds but one purpose: To win the war in Iraq, but each states his own personal motivation well. The film has three different aspects: the battles, the family life at home, and life in the army in Iraq. There are three main participants: Steven Pink, who has most of the cameras and a girlfriend, Lindsay, waiting for him at home; Zach Bazzi, a Lebanese émigré, whose mom is devoted to her soldier son; and Mike Moriarity whose wife and children wait on pins and needles for his return. At times the documentary is composed. We hear the thoughts of loved ones, torn by separation anxiety, pride, and love. The soldiers testify to their sense of purpose. Then, we get harrowing battle scenes with tanks going through the unstable streets of Fallujah. We hear them work as a unit fighting the insurgents with appropriately shaky cameras and thundering ammunition. Their candor is almost groundbreaking. The disdain for the enemy and the opportunism of war purveyors KBR and Halliburton are telling. Seeing soldiers train Iraqis, sorely needed recreation, and the aftermath of the men's sacrifices are key highlights. Whether or not you support the war, this film shouldn't be missed for supporting and understanding the soldiers. Sometimes funny, often unsettling, but always interesting, 'The War Tapes' is a rewarding and informative film.
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Format: DVD
John Burns, the Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times, calls this film "the single best document (book, film, or article) you could see on the war in Iraq." Director Deborah Scranton taught three soldiers from New Hampshire's National Guard --Steve Pink, Mike Moriarty, and the Lebanese-American Zack Bazzi who is fluent in Arabic --how to use a camera, then edited their 800 hours of war footage down to 97 minutes. The result is a first person visual narrative of the war in Iraq. It's probably about as close as you can get to experiencing war vicariously-- the chaos, bravado, feelings of helplessness, fear, vulgarity, boredom, and cynicism. Endless rows of charred vehicles in an equipment vehicle. Security escorts protecting convoys of Halliburton trucks carrying septic waste ("follow that shit truck!") or cheese cake. Children everywhere. And yes, IEDs and daily mortar attacks lobbed into Camp Anaconda. The film documents the stories of the three soldiers from their deployment to their return to their families and post war symptoms, including several takes with their wives back home interspersed throughout the film. Parts of this film are very hard to watch.
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