GUNNER PALACE (Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, 2004)
The documentary GUNNER PALACE shows us the daily lives of soldiers fighting the war in Iraq after major combat has ended. The film follows the unit stationed at the newly renamed Gunner Palace, one of Uday Hussein’s extravagant party palaces.
GUNNER PALACE contains a lot of important footage of what U.S. troops face every day and how they endure their deployments. Needless to say, it’s a highly stressful situation where a bag cast aside in the street might be a bomb or a regular patrol might be the last thing they ever do. Much of GUNNER PALACE is spent documenting the routine work of soldiers and how they blow off steam. Although this embedded view is revealing, watching the unformed footage becomes tedious. Co-director Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s point may be to depict the monotony that exists in this dangerous work, but too often the film plays like a rough assemblage of random scenes. Whether one supported the war in Iraq or not, GUNNER PALACE’S most vital element is giving a voice to the men and women serving. Many are conflicted and believe their efforts are irrelevant, but they strive to succeed in their assigned duties nevertheless. I think those for and against the war hope they do too.
(Review first aired on the March 29, 2005 NOW PLAYING)