The latest documentary by Errol Morris (b. 1948), Standard Operating Procedure bears some obvious resemblance to Morris' previous film about Robert McNamara, The Fog of War (2003), while continuing some of the central concerns and procedures of Morris' classic The Thin Blue Line (1988). All three make novel use of interviews and re-enactments to re-visit and patiently examine the evidence of an event whose official narrative already exists. Yet while The Thin Blue Line turns on questions of legal guilt and innocence, of justice, and of memory, the issues here are those of duty and ethical responsibility. For Morris as well, the very nature of photography (and cinematography), with their inherent truth claims, are also called into question. What does an image tell us? What does it reveal and what does it hide?
For this special screening Morris will engage in a public conversation with Homi Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard and author of the celebrated book The Location of Culture.
This screening is co-presented with the Humanities Center at Harvard.
We Regret to Announce that the Screening of Standard Operating Procedure Has Been Canceled
Thursday May 22
Directed by Errol Morris
US 2008, 35mm, color, 118 min.
The infamous photographs taken at Abu Ghraib have already become historic documents, seered into the collective memory of a nation with selective amnesia toward its own imperialist follies. In Standard Operating Procedure Morris interviews several of the guards at the prison, including Lynndie England, Javal Davis and Sabrina Harman, as well as former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, and uses computer graphics and vivid re-enactments to put the iconic images into the context of life at the prison for both prisoners and guards. Remaining close to the actual participants, the film presents an
intimate portrait of the people who took the photographs and the people who carried out the abuses of power, presenting an indelible picture of the psychological toll of warfare.