Occupation Dreamland

80 minutes 6.4/10 based on 6 votes

Filmed in early 2004, director-editor Ian Olds’ documentary follows a group of soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division stationed in al-Falluja, Iraq’s “city of mosques”. Their mission is to maintain the peace and root out insurgents, yet most importantly: to survive their tours of duty and go home.

Many of these young men, a lot of them poor and under-educated, joined the military because they lacked viable career or life alternatives. Once stationed in Iraq, they clearly wonder why they are there (“What exactly are we protecting?” asks one. “I don’t know”). Their daily lives, at least as depicted rather matter-of-factly by Olds, seem to consist of stretches of drudgery punctuated by occasional outbursts of gunfire and dangerous activity, along with meetings in which officers try to persuade them to re-enlist once their contracts expire.

Although there are snipers and bombers around, we don’t witness any casualties (filming was completed before the Marines laid bloody siege to al-Falluja in April of that same year). Instead, it is an uneasy co-existence between locals who don’t want them there (“America can go to the moon and make nuclear rockets,” says one Iraqi, “but it can’t make the people”) and soldiers who are duty-bound to fulfill their missions and understand why they are mistrusted, but have little sympathy for those they are supposed to help (“I hate these people,” mutters one). They may call their base of operations “Dreamland” (it’s actually an abandoned Ba’athist retreat), but for most of these guys, “nightmare” might be more appropriate.

Released in 2005. 78 min. Directors: Ian Olds, Garrett Scott. Documentary film.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • Cam

    why can’t i go fullscreen on any embedded videos all of the sudden?

    • Hi,

      it seems as if this is a known YouTube (playlist) error. I’ll see what I can do about it.

    • Hi again, the error is fixed. I’ll go ahead and sort out the other documentaries.

      Thanks.

      • Cam

        Oh why thank you, so it is. I wasn’t expecting one of you all to know how to fix it so much as wondering why it was happening and venting my irritation lol…I figured it was a problem on YouTube’s end but I guess maybe not. Either way, thanks

        • althea

          this is a Great doc…definately work checking out for candid behind frontline views from u.s. side…wish there was some follow-up short film of soldier’s outcomes & comparitive review of Fullluja today…What a f****’d scene the u.s is involved in…just awful.

  • lowresprickle

    240px? really?

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