Errol Morris is what’s right with the world – though he mostly makes films about exactly the opposite. He’s my favourite kind of person – curious, and one of those remarkable documentarians capable of humanizing a subject without letting them off the hook. Last night we watched Standard Operating Procedure – a painful and fascinating exploration of how stupid people go bad, and how bad people go unpunished.
In a really effective interrogation-like style, the interviewees speak directly into the camera to explain how-and-why they came to strip, molest, beat, torture, humiliate, murder, and photograph – yes, those photos – the prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
There are some unsettling things about the movie – other than what happened – mainly how good the photographs look. In a weird way, the photos of the men in pyramids and positions are beautiful. Well, until you remember that the photos aren’t staged.
I’ve written and re-written my take on the movie, but I sound too crazy and angry (it’s kind of inevitable) and I don’t want to turn you off watching it because it really is excellent … please just watch the film, and if you want to hear my (very strong) opinions, I will happily unleash them over some pints. And if haven’t yet, also watch Taxi to the Darkside.