In 2004, about a year into Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the insurgency was gathering steam, journalist Deborah Scranton was offered a chance to embed herself with a military company that included members of the New Hampshire National Guard. She declined but made an intriguing counterproposal. She offered to give the soldiers light, mobile video cameras so they could record their experiences.
Scranton and her team received the soldiers’ videos online, edited them, added footage about families and put together a complex sociopolitical mosaic. The War Tapes is an illuminating, disturbing 97-minute documentary that goes beyond its original intent (as most successful documentaries do) by not only showing the precarious existence of soldiers and civilians in Iraq but also burrowing into why soldiers do what they do and how they feel about it.