Standard Operating Procedure

2008

Crime / Documentary / War

1
IMDb Rating 7.4/10 10 4124 4.1K

Director

Top cast

720p.BLU
1.04 GB
1280*532
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
1 hr 55 min
Seeds 20

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Mr_Pink05 7 / 10

Excellent stuff

Respectful silence from the audience throughout. Not a word spoken by anyone exiting the theatre afterwards. Standard Operating Procedure is the film no one is talking about.

Errol Morris' documentary on the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison is smart and informative. While talking head interviews with the people directly and indirectly involved provide the backbone, cinematic reconstructions of 2003s grizzly events coupled with the well known photographs taken by soldiers work successfully at pulling an emotional response from the viewer.

Though intriguing, SOP doesn't really benefit from the big screen treatment and would probably have just as much impact if viewed on TV.

Dark and depressing, shocking and enlightening: SOP is 2008's must see documentary.

Reviewed by TheFluffyKnight 7 / 10

Standard Operating Procedure

In 2004 the media was full of accounts of the abuse, torture, and even murder of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison by Military Police. Photographs surfaced depicting prisoners naked and wearing cloth hoods, and being forced to masturbate, stand on boxes for fear of electrocution, and forming human pyramids. Twelve soldiers were convicted, and the commanding officer at the prison, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was demoted to the rank of Colonel. Errol Morris' documentary Standard Operating Procedure attempts to examine the atmosphere surrounding the abuse, the people involved, and whether it was all down to a few "bad apples", or if it was reflective of the American military as a whole.

Morris keeps his authorial influence to a minimum, instead allowing his subjects to speak for themselves. He has interviewed several of the soldiers involved, including Lynndie England, who can be seen in many of the photographs smiling, pointing, giving a thumbs up. She and the other soldiers interviewed describe, with remarkable candour, what it was like living in Abu Ghraib prison, their relationships with each other and the prisoners, and the events and tensions surrounding those incidents depicted in the photographs. It all paints a picture of the prison as a dark and stifling environment, one just waiting to bring out the worst in people.

The real centrepiece of the film, though, are the photographs. Even four years after they dominated every front page and bulletin, they have lost none of their power to appal and disgust. Some, like the picture of a man forced to stand, arms outstretched, on a box with a cloth bag on his head, are surreal. Others, like a photograph of Sabrina Harman giving a thumbs up over a dead prisoner, are simply disturbing.

And hovering above all of this are the OGA, or Other Government Agencies, an often used euphemism for the CIA. It was during the CIA-led interrogations that the most heinous of human rights infractions were most likely carried out. But there are no photographs of these incidents. Standard Operating Procedure raises the point that it is these individuals who should have received the full brunt of the punishment, but it was simpler to lay the blame on lower ranking officers like England and Harman.

It is here that the main point of contention with Standard Operating Procedure arises. It is true that no one above the rank of Staff Sergeant was convicted. And it is true that this should not be the case, that those higher-ranking officers who let this abuse play out under their noses should be held accountable. But Morris tries to divert too much of the blame away from those who were convicted. While England, Harman and the others were just following orders and living in a deeply affecting environment, they are also human beings endowed with free will. They could have said no at any time, and just walked away.

That Standard Operating Procedure raises these arguments means that it is worthy of our time. It presents the facts as perceived by those involved, never itself commenting or judging. It leaves that to us, so that we can make up our own minds. So that perhaps we can learn from the mistakes made by others, and prevent them from happening again.

Reviewed by lastliberal 8 / 10

The stink of war

As someone who spent the majority of his adult life in the military, this documentary was especially disturbing.

It's not as it there is anything new here. I saw Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, a better picture, and I am sure that I will see some of this again in Taxi to the Dark Side, or at least I am told I will. It is not that this is new or surprising, but that it needs to be seen and remembered as much as the Holocaust.

That is not to say the murder of six million Jews stands equal to the abuses by our soldiers in Iraq, but that we need to remember this and make sure that we do everything we can to prevent it from happening again.

The professionals will tell you that there is no useful information that can be obtained from tortured prisoners. They will say anything to make you quit. So, there is no excuse for what happened here. It was just people reverting to their animal instincts.

The biggest shame, of course, if that no one above the rank of SSgt went to prison. That is just the way it happens. The troops are scapegoated and the officers are reassigned.

The method used by director Errol Morris in telling this story was unique and really added to the film. It needs to be seen by everyone.

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