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Invisible War, The (DVD Review)

14 Jan, 2013 By: Mike Clark

New Video
Box Office $0.06 million
$29.95 DVD
Not rated

I was such an enthusiast for documentarian Kirby Dick’s predecessor Outrage (about the deep-sixing of pro-gay legislation by allegedly gay conservatives in Congress) that it self-amazes to concede that it took me this long to see his follow-up, which has just been nominated for the best feature documentary Oscar.

The subject is rape in the military (obviously not just of female soldiers) and how the system is rigged to put the blame or burden of proof on the victim. There are simply too many tragic stories here related by too many people willing to give their names and be photographed for posterity on screen to doubt the veracity of the filmmaker’s raked muck, which includes a coda that lets us know the significant number of assailants who not only weren’t prosecuted but ended up receiving military promotions. It took Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta a little more than a blink to take serious action after his staff got him to see this winner of the Sundance Audience Award.

And it was action that included, unless there was an amazing coincidence in timing, a further shakeup of DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) — even though its onetime civilian head (Dr. Kay Whitley) had been replaced by a female Air Force general who, like Whitley, is interviewed in the film.

Some of War’s most astonishing moments are its even hardball interview of Dr. Whitley, who comes off as the kind of zoned-out individual who would have a tough time ascertaining which direction is “up.” Dick could have called this one Outrage as well, though the poignant moments rival the fury-inducing ones, especially when we take into consideration not just the toll that unpunished rapes have taken on those assaulted but on their parents and mates as well.

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