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By Joshua Grover-David Patterson | October 13, 2004

“Homeland Security” begins with the following quote pasted across the screen:

“There ought to be limits to freedom.” – George W. Bush

It ends with another quote:

“Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Between those quotes is a silent film with a fuzz-tone guitar pounding under it.

This film is… well, first it’s a group of guys getting ready for work. They put on their black pants, and their black shirts, and white armbands with a black circle and the letters HS stamped on them.

I’m guessing the colors, by the way, as the film is in black and white.

Then, these four men in black shirts beat up several people with their fists. No reasons are given.

A woman is… attacked, certainly, and possibly raped, but without dialogue, I can’t be certain.

The film ends on an act of violence – or rather, a potential act of violence, as one of the perpetrators seems to be losing heart, or his will to act.

I recognize that this is a recounting, and not a review. In a review I would state what I saw, and what I thought about what I saw.

But honestly, what have I seen? Two quotes, with perhaps eight minutes of material between them, and the eight minutes are, frankly, unclear in what they mean to say.

What the film seems to want to say is that if we continue to give up our freedoms here in the United States, then eventually the nation eventually will turn into – a police state? Are these men, with HS (rather than SS, one presumes) printed on their arms meant to be tools of the government?

Ultimately, this film is either completely unclear or far too obvious. Why beat up these two particular men? No reason is given. Why choose to rape this particular woman? No reason is given.

And as for the final stand-off, well, that one seems to make a sort of sense in the context of world events, but it doesn’t jibe with what came before it, where the people being attacked seem to be randomly chosen victims.

Also, why show these people getting ready for “work?” They don’t even meet in an office, they meet by an abandoned railway car, which implies they’re not tools of the government, but rather that they’re some sort of strange vigilante army.

An honest discussion of homeland security, and the Patriot Act, and what they really mean could make for an interesting film. Even the way this particular work plays out might have a redeeming quality or two if it somehow demonstrated how our current police or military force could evolve into a group of men clad in black, meeting by boxcars.

Instead, all we have are two quotes, with a massive question mark of images sitting between them. And as the film provides no answers or explanations, it sadly provides nothing at all for the viewer to learn.

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