Hollywood is wrong – everyone knows it. It spoils almost every book adapted and – even worst – in 90% it changes the meaning of the original work. In most cases from clearly critical of the United States, to the critical only of the “bad elements which, although originating from the U.S., but act contrary to the official state’s policy”. This is true when it comes to the Westerns (they are always ‘evil cowboys’, which are responsible for murdering the Indians – but these ‘bad elements’ represent the margins of honest, hard-working American society), this is true when it comes to the Vietnam movies (although filmmakers in this case managed to smuggle a few truly critical pictures) and this is true when it comes to on-going American adventures in the Middle East.
Very good example of the latter is well known war thriller, ‘Green Zone’, inspired – as the authors say – by the book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’ (which has nothing common with the thriller genre, by the way) by Rajiv Chandrasekar. Well said ‘inspired’, as the only thing that really connects the two pieces is the place and time of action – 2003 in Iraq – shortly after the Anglo-American invasion.
The award-winning book is a beautifully written, with humour and verve, recounted reportage, discussing the behaviours of paranoid American invaders in the newly conquered Iraq. Chandrasekar recounts an idyllic life in the isolated “Green Zone”, describes the tragicomic attempts to introduce new (similar to the West) laws in the occupied country, and presents inexperienced, but with good connections amateurs trying to build a new, Western, order in the occupied Iraq.
The book, often compared to ‘Catch-22’, shows not only the surreal side of the Yankee rule. It clearly suggests that everything would go exactly like that – exactly like the President, together with his greedy co-operators, dreamt of. And ‘Imperial Life in Emerald City’ is much more interesting, much more entertaining, than – for instance – boring Woodward’s reports: ‘Bush War’ and ‘Plan of Attack’.
The film, however, completely lacks surrealistic atmosphere of the book. Moreover it tries to convince the audience that responsible for the entire evil are a few bad people – yes, they are public servant and the military, but they are renegades! Most of the Americans involved in the ‘liberation’ are honest, wonderful people. And most of them are true heroes!
One of the heroic soldiers – played by Matt Damon – discovers that the place, which everyone believes (thanks to the ‘bad boys’ fraudulent conspiracy) produces weapons of mass destruction, is in fact a factory manufacturing toilet bowls. Then he manages to unravel – at the risk of his own life – a complex plot designed to discredit the serious sanitary business and inform the press all over the world. Evil conspirators are exemplary punished and our hero is exemplary awarded. It’s a pity that some several Iraqis were killed. But hey – the war is not fun!
‘Green Zone’ fits so perfectly in the Hollywood way of presenting the reality of war, but the real truth is explained simply on the back cover of the fascinating book ‘Baghdad Burning’ by Iraqi blogger Riverbend:
For Sale: Iraq. A terrible wealthy country with a population of around 2 million…plus around 150,000 foreign troops, and a handful of puppets. Conditions of sale: should be either an American or British corporation. Please contact one of the members of the Governing Council in Baghdad, Iraq, for more information.