19 March 2006 | svs247
Not a movie as much as a prompt
'Live from Baghdad' is a political movie in the sense that it asks very tough questions; however, its center lies not in politics but in people. It relates the story of Robert Wiener and his CNN team as they struggle to report the news from Baghdad in the six month antebellum period leading up to the Persian Gulf War of 1991. The team battles with tough Iraqi censorship, enormous political tension, and the reality of impending war. While still presenting the historical events of the time, Baghdad focuses on interpersonal relationships and intrapersonal struggles. Questions over the role of the media emanate from the various stories and struggles that the CNN team faces. The issues of censorship and propaganda, for example, plague the CNN team and their coverage. The use of the media as a diplomatic pawn befalls Wiener and his crew several times in the film. In many senses Baghdad is a media mood ring: different situations in the movie stress and display the various characteristics of the press from a governmental tool to diplomatic connection.
The acting in this movie is superb. Keaton is a very strong actor in this film and in every sense epitomizes the gung-ho, balls-out attitude of the real Robert Wiener. In stark contrast, David Suchet, as Naji Al-Hadithi, presents the exquisiteness of his character with a sense of calculation and deliberation. He very much captures a cultured, borderline-aristocratic dignity that an Iraqi official in Saddam Hussein's cabinet might hold.
The particular strength of this movie is not in the plot, the production or the characters, however--and in fact none of these really stand out as excellent--but in the broad questions it raises. At the heart of this film is the implied question as to the role of the media. To what extent should we censor? How much should we analyze? What does the public have the right to now and how far can the press go to get it? 'Live from Baghdad' is an incredible movie in the sense that it can raise these questions from an emotional and factual base.
I give this movie an 8 out of 10 for its generally entertaining plot and tough press-related questions.