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road to guantanamo

April 6, 2012

This film provides one of the most troubling pictures of the diasporic experience that we’ve seen.  Perhaps this is because the characters do nothing to deserve what happens to them, and then they become so thoroughly helpless at the hands of people who could helpful.  Is this film that it was good to work up to by seeing other dimensions of immigrants struggles first?  Was there some logical continuty in the sequence of these films?  What in the film affected you most?

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15 comments

  1. This film really did leave me speechless for a while, and that doesn’t often happen to me. I think what got to me the most was my own ignorance. Sad to say, but before this film I wasn’t aware of the situation in Guantanamo Bay. And after the film, I couldn’t believe that I had no knowledge of that situation. I feel like in these situations there’s such a conflict of emotions. You want to believe your country is doing the right thing, you want to be proud of the military personnel sacrificing their lives to “keep us safe”, but then you hear about what’s actually going on in some parts of the world that we have a hand in and feelings like shame start to rise in you. I think at the end of this movie, I had so many different emotions battling inside me that I honestly didn’t know what to say. This was also the first movie we’ve seen that involved people that actually went through the conflict, not just actors. That made the movie and the situation all the more real to me. It breaks my heart that there are innocent people getting mixed up in this war that has lasted over 10 years and has brought many people troubles and heartache. I don’t know the solution, though.

    I thought the film was made well, and that it had realistic depictions. I think it’s important to realize something that Brittany said in class, that it really wasn’t anyone’s actual fault in the movie. The American military personnel thought they were doing their job, what they were trained for. They thought they were dealing with dangerous terrorists, even though they were completely innocent. I just think something needs to change.


  2. This film was a very powerful representation about assumption and profiling. The story of these friends who got caught up in a situation that changed their lives was so remarkable. I mentioned in class how inspiring it was to see these guys tell the story without bitterness and to reflect on the experience with humility. What was done to them was straight out wrong. Watching the movie you feel so helpless because we have the knowledge that this very thing could be happening to other people right now, stuck in torture for a crime they didnt commit and having no allies to help them. I loved how that despite the constant torture and interrogation, the guys stuck to the truth and would never just say what their torturers wanted them to say. This is a definite portrayal of racial profiling because even though these guys werent even from Afganistan and even though they had british accents, no matter what they said, they weren’t believed. This obsessive need to blame someone who clearly is innocent is just disturbing and something must be done for those who may be currently in this situation.


  3. My first reaction was that this film was somewhat exploitative of the ‘Tipton three’ tragedy, giving us shots of the actual three to make us care instead of focusing on the story or characters, but I guess you can’t say it wasn’t effective. If the filmmakers intended to depict how innocent lives can be ruined pretty easily by by outside circumstances, or the lengths some empires will go to get the answers they want, than they accomplished their goal. It may have been in an obvious sort of commanding way, but it still makes you consider how biased and horrifying many aspects of the system are, and how relevant these discussion are today. This event occurred not ten years ago and clearly this is still a big issue that affects many lives around the world today. This film forces you to open up that topic, however stark, bleak and uncomfortable it may be, and engage with others about it.


  4. I was surprised, to say the least, that I was able to watch the entire film without closing my eyes. The film was well made—and by that I mean the acting seem realistic. The biggest issue I would like to comment on for my post relates to some of the comments I and others made in class. After seeing the film, it is hard for me to trust our government. I would not have thought they would have treated these men this way. Even if they were to be thought as the most dangerous men alive at that time, not feeding them and putting them under such harsh conditions seems to me unlawful. I’m not going to pretend I understand our government or our law system, but the movie did portray them differently than I picture in my mind. That said, the film did what it intended to do, I suppose, make us look at our governmental system and question its intentions and methods. There were some holes in the film where I felt needed more explanation—like the initial capturing part, who were they?—but I partly blame that on my own uneducated self on the subject.


  5. I found the film a little hard to follow at times, yet powerful all the same. Though I had a vague idea of the situation of Guantanamo Bay, I really didn’t know exactly what was going on. I agree with Jessica that this was definitely a strong example of profiling and how people assume. I agree with others about how shocking it was to see our government treat these people in this way. On one hand, the officers are following orders and doing their job…but on the other hand the cruelty and torture was inhumane and uncalled for. This was also right after the September 11th attacks, and people were scared, which could be a reason they were so quick to assume and assume all the men were terrorists. The film was shocking, and it does give some insight into what goes on “behind closed doors” so to speak. I agree with others about the film provoking discussion and making us think about things like racial profiling. This movie really puts the government (who we count on to protect us) in a different light.


  6. I think that what affected me the most about this film was how the American troops treated the main characters. I was shocked about how the people we look up to in this country could act the way they did. I felt comfort while watching the film knowing that the men talking were going to survive. I think the idea of knowing they’re alright made me comforted while watching them be tortured. This film also made me think of how many other people there are out there being punished for something they didn’t do. I was amazed that the men didn’t break during the interrogations and just confess to something they didn’t do so that it could end. I don’t think that I would have been as strong as they were and last that long. Even though they knew that there was a chance they were never going to be free again, they stuck to their story and didn’t give into the people torturing them. I think their strength was shown in the film and gave hope that there will be other wrongly accused people gaining their freedom back.


  7. I think we can all agree that this movie left us speechless and shocked. What shocked me the most is not only the running after terrorists in other country (which is a ridiculous idea to begin with) but also the need to point a finger at anything or anyone. The interrogators didn’t care if they were they real terrorists–even if they were, I don’t think they would’ve spoken English since they hate the west. They tortured the innocent men just to (no offense to anybody) shut Americans up and say they fixed the problem.


  8. While watching this film, I honestly felt my heart leap out of my chest for the friends being tortured. I think the moment that impacted me the most was the series of torture situations the people were thrown into. As we discussed in class, the fact that the soldiers used the loud “rock” therapy with strobe lights seems so unusual. It’s interesting because people in more fortunate situations use that form of “torture” for fun. People enjoy going out to clubs for loud music and light shows. I was really upset when the soldiers constantly attacked the people, as if one more punch in the stomach was going to shove the truth right out of an already battered body. I think we definitely saw other dimensions of immigrant struggles throughout this film. I was shocked to see that no one seemed to care enough to show any concerns for the people in question. It’s obvious that most of us were shocked to learn that US soldiers were responsible for this. There were so many times in the film where I found myself trying to create a good argument concerning why the soldiers were so adamant about getting the truth out of innocent people. It’ s almost if the military needed a person to confess, although it would have been fake, in order to secure America’s faith in the terrorist situation. The fact that the people were kept in animal cages, outside and for long periods of time is just insane. I really felt for these people, but it may have been in part because I knew they were innocent. I really couldn’t form some sort of well-thought out response to the film because it was so shocking, gut-wrenching, and unorthodox. This film raises a lot of concerns and questions, especially about the way in which our government seems to be working to protect its own people.


  9. While watching this film, I honestly felt my heart leap out of my chest for the friends being tortured. I think the moment that impacted me the most was the series of torture situations the people were thrown into. As we discussed in class, the fact that the soldiers used the loud “rock” therapy with strobe lights seems so unusual. It’s interesting because people in more fortunate situations use that form of “torture” for fun. People enjoy going out to clubs for loud music and light shows. I was really upset when the soldiers constantly attacked the people, as if one more punch in the stomach was going to shove the truth right out of an already battered body. I think we definitely saw other dimensions of immigrant struggles throughout this film. I was shocked to see that no one seemed to care enough to show any concerns for the people in question. It’s obvious that most of us were shocked to learn that US soldiers were responsible for this. There were so many times in the film where I found myself trying to create a good argument concerning why the soldiers were so adamant about getting the truth out of innocent people. It’ s almost if the military needed a person to confess, although it would have been fake, in order to secure America’s faith in the terrorist situation. The fact that the people were kept in animal cages, outside and for long periods of time is just insane. I really felt for these people, but it may have been in part because I knew they were innocent. I really couldn’t form some sort of well-thought out response to the film because it was so shocking, gut-wrenching, and unorthodox. This film raises a lot of concerns and questions, especially about the way in which our government seems to be working to protect its own people.


  10. I think what caught me off guard about this film was the fact that these were real people that had to deal with such torture, and very close to America, geographically. Even though all of the other films we have studied have been narratives of what really goes on in the world, it was easier to think, “oh they’re just acting”. However, in Road to Guantanamo we actually heard from the real people that were taken away and tortured for a very long time. In all of the other films, we haven’t seen American characters, so to see all of the ways that the Americans made this men suffer was hard. I have to say that I was also ignorant as to what went on at Guantanamo Bay. It certainly left me stunned as to what the miliatary and our defense is really like. I think this film will be easier to talk about in class on Thursday because we will have all had time to process it. It was really just very shocking at first. I have to say that all week I have been thinking about it on and off. This film was very shocking and moving.


  11. I did feel that there was some logical continuity to the films shown in class. The way in which diasporic cinema was presented to the class started with films featuring characters looking to better their positions in life by either changing their location or seeking new employment (Journey of Hope, Dirty Pretty Things). Then, viewers are shown characters who are caught in some kind of physical rut there’s no easy escape from, but a considerable part of their conflict(s) stem from emotional longing (Beseiged, La Haine). Road to Guantanamo is different from the mentioned films because while it features the same sort of struggles, part of its message is that sometimes, life is as cruel as it is random.

    The part of Road to Guantanamo that upset me was how every interviewer managed to procure documents and footage ‘proving’ that the characters had terrorist ties. The men whose stories viewers follow did have alibis for most of the dates in question, and the interviewers blatantly ignored that new information. I understand that this was a work of fiction, but a lot of truth came from it. Combine the misplaced tenacity of the men and women responsible for charging ‘terrorists’ and their abysmal success rate, and all the negative criticisms concerning Guantanamo Bay seem appropriate.


  12. This film was interesting to watch to say the least. While it does bring up some issues with our government and how they do things no one can say that it isn’t effective in preserving our nation. The Road to Guantanamo was a tough movie to watch but it was also eye opening. I don’t really know how to feel about our military after watching it and I don’t think I want to know more than what I already do. These people were tortured ruthlessly for confessions they couldn’t even provide which was really messed up. The system works as long as no one abuses it and you have the right guys but if there is a glitch and an innocent person gets taken you really have to wonder. I found myself wondering just how many innocent people really have gone through Guantanamo.

    Guantanamo Bay is a stain on our nation and hopefully we can stop using it soon.


  13. I had to watch this film on my own because I missed class. I can’t wait to discuss the movie in class because when it was over I kept thinking about througout the night. I have a lot of friends in the military so I have heard a lot of mixed things about the jobs they do. I just never imagined that our military would do some of the things that happened in this movie. I guess what got to me most what the lack of compassion that went a long with the torture and that they kept doing it even though the people had no confessions. I really had no idea that this sort of thing even happened now adays I guess that is why it is important to watch films such as these because so many peopple are in a bubble. I think that once people start treating others without compassion suggest the end of humanity so it is disconcerting to know that this violence is being inflicted by our own men.I will probably always remember this film and be disturbed by it.- Delaney McDermott


  14. I certainly think that it was good to transition from other films instead of leaping right into this one. I’m not sure how many of us would have reacted without the subtle segue into such a dark place. I think I personally wouldn’t have understood so much of it without seeing other immigrant films before it, and I think it made me understand quite a lot more about the characters’ backgrounds and their thought processes. Not to say that it wouldn’t be a good film for someone without any experience with diaspora films, but it made for a very strong connection after seeing them.

    I’ve been rereading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, so it just seemed logical for me to pair everything up with how soldiers acted during Vietnam. Where do we draw the line of “good guy” and “bad guy”, especially in situations like this? These guys did nothing wrong, yet they are treated as criminals. Soldiers are cheered on from afar by people who don’t quite understand what they’ve been through, and the pressure to “get the terrorists” is pushing them into some really scary directions.

    It was strange to be asked to react and respond to the film immediately after we had watched it. This is one of the kind of thing that, although you know that it’s happening and know that it’s awful, is very easy to forget about until you see it in such a personal way.


  15. I’ve got to say, the film succeeded in making me feel completely disgusted in Guantanamo Bay. I knew it was a vile place to begin with, but actually watching the personal story of innocents who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and spending years of their life they will never get back in a condemned space is simply inexcusable. Knowing that most of the people there are likely still there for related reasons is a disgrace and an utter embarrassment on the part of the United States, and serves to make the audience wonder who the real war criminals are. It was honestly hard to gather up coherent thoughts right after watching the film because I think much of the class was speechless. It was tough to fathom and it challenges America’s place in the world.



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