Published on June 28th, 2012 | by Chris2
Severe Clear (2009)
Lieutenant Mike Scotti took a camera in when his Marine artillery unit was sent across the Kuwait border into Iraq, and managed to compile this incredible footage, and bring this jaw dropping film to life. Broken up into “Chapters” for different stages, before, during, and after the invasion…. I don’t think you’ll find a more intense, more “condensed” history of the invasion, the bullshit, the feelings behind it at the time…. than this. If you want to know what it was probably like, I doubt you’ll get much closer than this without actually being there.
Be forewarned. This film is not for the weak at heart, weak in spirit, or weak in the stomach. There are lots of clips and sentiment of Marines, well, being Marines. “We’re going to go there, and kill everything.” Because, not to put too fine a point on it, that’s what Marines do. There’s no attempt to rationalize this, which is pretty much how it should be. “We go where they tell us, and do what they tell us, and then we go home.” There’s also a rather large helping of uncensored wartime gore. Unpleasant, but necessary to drive the entire package home, especially in concert with his narration (presumably from his book which references several times.)
The frank-ness of his filming, commentary, and delivery is much appreciated. To me, at least, it never had that “reality TV” feel to it which I picked up with Restrepo and Armadillo.
And big kudos to the audio production folks. I actually jumped a few times when those combat scenes kicked in from near silence. Their ability to pull such convincing and deafening sound out of what was probably impossible source material is not to be ignored. Yes, the video is grainy and rather low quality, but that’s the source you’re looking at. Think state-of-the-art 2002 handheld video, probably 8mm or maybe early DV tape and that’s what you’ve got.
I also don’t know how old Mr. Scotti is, but the choice of soundtrack music (sounded like a lot of early 90′s stuff) would put him about my age, which also hit home.
Going to have to go 8.5/10. A good solid piece of true reality-tv-free documentary film making. Find a way to watch this one, but be prepared. (Edit: Yeah I changed the rating. Realized I gave Restrepo an 8 and had to one-up it with this one!)
Severe Clear [Blu-ray]
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U.S. Marine Mike Scotti’s mini-camcorder provides your point of view in this vivid, thrilling, and sometimes disturbing documentary account of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Edited together into a taut and intimate “battlefield journal,” the film delivers not just the horrors of war–though they are there, grimly captured by the soldier-filmmaker’s camera while in combat–but also its many moral complexities…
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Inception Media Group
Original Release Date:
- Interviews with Mike Scotti and Director Kristian Fraga
- Audio Commentary with Director Kristian Fraga and Film Critic Matt Zoller Seitz
- Deleted Scenes
- Soundtrack Preview
- Over 2 hours of extras
Summary: You want a no-bullshit, pulls-no-punches live-as-live-gets documentary on the initial push into Iraq in 2003? Then look no further than Severe Clear.