Gunner Palace: A Baghdad Musical

Check out Gunner Palace, a new documentary of American soldiers in Iraq. It's an amazing story, and trailers are on the site, easily viewed. In a nutsell,

The videos feature American solders rapping about the war; another doing a Hendrix inspired "Star Spangled Banner" on the roof of Uday Hussein's Palace. It's not really a musical, it's real and it's happening now. As a soldier says in the film, "For y'all this is just a show, but we live in this movie."

M. Tucker, the filmmaker says:

The purpose of my visit was to embed myself with a unit for as long as they would have me. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, owing to the fact that I was briefly in the military and come from a military family, I found a unit that embraced my presence. The unit, 2/3 Field Artillery aka the "Gunner" Battalion was based in Uday Hussein's Azimiya Palace-sitting in the middle of Adhamiya, the most volatile area in Baghdad.

The Palace itself, now referred to as "Gunner Palace", was a welcome retreat from the chaos of Baghdad's streets. It had a swimming pool. A putting green. It even had a stocked fishing pond. 2/3's commander, LTC Bill Rabena called it an "adult paradise". He lived in the Love Shack-a pumpkin shaped building where Uday Hussein apparently engaged in all kinds of debauchery-the LTC slept in Uday's circular bed, something right out of Austin Powers.

...I also discovered a pool of talent at 2/3. Namely a handful of soldiers who were adept at expressing themselves through freestyle rap. While I did interview a few soldiers on camera, I found that the rappers could say things that would never come out in an interview. They rapped about home, their fears and the violence they lived in. The story fell together.

There's lots more to the story behind this film, which is a moving tribute to the soldiers. The filmmaker, after three separate trips to Baghdad to do the filming, concludes:

After seeing this war firsthand, I don't have any easy answers. In fact, I may have no answers. You try to find good in something like this; you try to find a reason. You try to explain death. I asked soldiers what they thought and their answers were simple. After nearly a year, it wasn't about Iraq, the Iraqis, democracy, Donald Rumsfeld or oil. It was about them. They just wanted to finish the job they were sent to do so they could go home. As a soldier/poet says in the film "You may not like this, but please respect it."

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