Saturday, 3 November 2012


In basic terms, a documentary is only as strong as its subject. The Invisible War's subject is certainly a strong one - it is an expose of military rape, shedding light on the distressing and frequently astonishing details which the US military has made an apparent (and apparently vigorous) effort to conceal. In interviews with victims, we hear a little of the specifics of several cases (of which there are estimated to be many thousands every year) and a lot of the specifics of what trauma ensued, most of which was perpetuated by those responsible either for the assault itself or for its management thereafter. The facts and statistics inspired outrage in me, and the personal and emotional toll on the victims inspired empathy on a level which I wasn't aware I was even capable of. This is a document of almost unrelenting suffering - accounts of hideous attacks followed by abuse, punishment, denial...moments of potential respite seldom occur, and, when they do, they are of minimal effect. And happy endings fail to arise, as the desperate pre-credits slides reveal. Crucial to the success of Kirby Dick's film is that it never becomes stagnant, which is only for the terrible truth that there always seems to be more to say, more to uncover, more painful truths and painful lives to examine. And it is thorough - consulting with experts and officials as well as victims, covering the military's laughable prevention strategies, and the legal data, all of which only augments the horror. There is only one side to the stories which is left undisclosed - that of the perpetrators. This film suggests that they are as likely to be rewarded as they are to be reprimanded, and rarely adequately so. I guess this might be an exception to the rule - a story with just the one side.