Monday, February 6, 2012

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair (2006)

Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker


The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair represents a follow-up to husband-and-wife filmmaking team Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's critically-worshipped, defiantly nonpartisan documentary Gunner Palace (2004), on the day-to-day of American soldiers stationed on the Iraqi front. In that earlier picture, Tucker and Epperlein stumble across Yunis Khatayer Abbas, a Middle Eastern man who merely confesses, "I am a journalist," before American soldiers drag him off to incarceration. The Tuckers reconnected with Abbas at a later point, and disinter his backstory in this film. Tortured by the goons of Saddam Hussein's brother, Uday Hussein, Abbas later became a key terrorist suspect of the U.S. government, who believed that he intended to kill British prime minister Tony Blair. American authorities had Abbas thrown into the notorious Abu Ghirab prison (and other penitentiaries) and subjected him to month after month of grueling interrogation. Eventually, they released him - with a one-word apology. Tucker and Epperlein recount Abbas's story with an unusual approach: in lieu of a straight documentary, the filmmakers employ a comic-book iconography, with over 150 onscreen illustrations of Abbas's plight by Epperlein, intercut with clips from Abbas's home movies and glimpses of U.S. Army documents - all of which detail the sad absurdities that befell him.


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