Brothers at War Opened on Friday
Brothers at War, by Jake Rademacher, opened in selected theaters last Friday. Click here to find out how to bring the movie to a local theater near you.
Here's a scene from the film:
BROTHERS AT WAR is an intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake’s exploits as he risks everything—including his life—to tell his brothers’ story. Often humorous, but sometimes downright lethal, BROTHERS AT WAR is a remarkable journey where Jake embeds with four combat units in Iraq. Unprecedented access to U.S. and Iraqi combat units take him behind the camouflage curtain with secret reconnaissance troops on the Syrian border, into sniper "Hide Sites" in the Sunni Triangle, through raging machine gun battles with the Iraqi Army. Ultimately, the film follows his brothers home where separations and life-threatening work ripple through their parents, siblings, wives and children. BROTHERS AT WAR provides a rare look at the bonds and service of our soldiers on the frontlines and the profound effects their service has on the loved ones they leave behind.
While driving home Thursday night, I heard part of the Rademachers' interview on The Dennis Miller Show, with guest-host Andrew Breitbart. I believe much of the footage takes place in pre-surge 2005-6, and heard Isaac Rademacher say that Jake captured some of what became a turning point in the war, through the Anbar Awakening.
Actually, here's the beauty of the internet: Listen to the radio program here (About an hour into the program).
U.S. soldiers would go to great lengths to avoid collateral damage so innocents were not caught in the middle of any engagements.
"When the enemy is preparing an attack you see the civilians disperse and there is quietness that is unusual and we can just tell something is wrong," he said. "We found that Iraqis want peace just like the Americans, they care about their children and they are trying to stand up a government and this is a difficult project. Because we made every effort to avoid collateral damage it was easier for us to neutralize the enemy."
The transformation of the Anbar Province that became evident in 2007 was in many respects the result of the partnership U.S. forces had fostered with local citizens and tribal leaders while the insurgency was still raging in the preceding years, Isaac explained.
"The Iraqis don't blame us for the violence they blame the terrorists and insurgents," he said. "Anbar now belongs to the Iraqis. There has been an awakening and they are standing up for their own country."
From Roger Ebert's review:
It's not pro or anti-war, although obviously the two brothers fighting there support it. It is simply about men and women. The film is about the men in the Rademacher family from Downstate Decatur. Jake, the oldest, always planned to go into the military, but didn't make it into West Point and found himself as an actor. Isaac, the next, graduated top of his class at West Point and married his classmate Jenny. Joe, next in line, enlisted and was top of his class at Army Ranger school. The brothers were very close growing up, but Jake sensed a distance growing as they came home on leave. He felt he could never know their experience.
What Jake decided to do was visit them in Iraq and film a documentary of them at work -- easier, because Sgt. Joe was assigned to Capt. Isaac's unit. This sounds simple enough, but it involved investment, logistical problems and danger under fire. The result is a film that benefits from an inside view, as Jake is attached to Isaac's group and follows them for extended periods under fire in the Sunni Triangle and on patrol on the Syrian border. It is clear that the brothers are expert soldiers.
But this is not a war film. It is a life film, and its scenes filmed at home are no less powerful than those filmed in Iraq.
I've reviewed many documentaries about Iraq. All of them have been anti-war. "Why don't you ever review a pro-war documentary?" readers have asked me. The answer is simple: There haven't been any. There still aren't, because no one in this film argues in favor of the war -- or against it, either. What you hear is guarded optimism, pride in the work, loyalty to the service. This is deep patriotism. It involves risking your life for your country out of a sense of duty.
"It is important for all Americans, not just military families, to watch this film so they can come to understand what is being done on their behalf on a day to day basis, Ratzenberger said in a brief interview.