By Jamie Tipps | January 21, 2007

Initially, a politically charged, potentially polarizing documentary was not the type of film I would relish reviewing. However, Rory Kennedy’s documentary “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” manages to find common ground in a country (or audience) divided. Part broad exploration of human nature, part specific examination of Abu Ghraib, the film posits the question: how does one fight an enemy who recognizes no set laws of engagement?

Incorporating the viewpoints of political officials, prison guards, and detainees, the film discusses the state of demoralization, fear, exhaustion, and frustration that informed the abuses at the prison. Appealing to the viewer’s reason and logic, Kennedy identifies a perpetrator-victim pattern, and rather than assign blame to a demonized few, Kennedy demonstrates the culpability of the many.

To be American, she argues, is to hold oneself to a higher standard of humane behavior—not sink below it. And despite the various positions Americans hold regarding the current state of the country, the fact that an ethical debate—and movies like this—exist is definitely a good sign…

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