Where In The World is Osama

Thursday, 11 September 2008 16:44

If Morgan Spurlock has learned anything from over 30 years of movie-going, it’s that if the world needs saving, it’s best done by a loner willing to face danger head-on, and take it down, action-hero style. So, after undergoing a crash course in military experience, knowledge and expertise, he then sets off to do what the CIA, FBI and countless bounty hunters have failed to do: find the world’s most wanted man.

Where, indeed, is Osama bin Laden?Why take on such a seemingly impossible mission? Simple - he wants to make the world safe for his soon to be born child, and he’s got 19 weeks to complete the mission so he can get home in time for the birth. En route to his attempt to find Osama bin Laden, he first needs to learn where ‘BL’ came from, what makes him tick, and most importantly, what exactly ‘created’ him to begin with.

This is a DVD that seems to have come out with very little fanfare – strange considering that we’re at the anniversary of 9/11 once more, and after all “BL” is the reason why America is fighting undeclared wars all over the place, and worldwide we are seeing an erosion of civil liberties as a consequence that has George Orwell muttering from beyond the grave: “I told you so”.

Spurlock is the guy who discredited fast food so gloriously in “Super Size Me”, and has taken on a very thorny subject with this documentary. That said he has discharged himself admirably in his own inimitable style. We are taken on a Wicker’s-World-esque global journey to various ‘trouble spots’ (Iraq excluded, on his wife’s orders!) to see if the trail of the most wanted man on the planet can be followed.

Peppered throughout with hilarious animation (it has to be said, one set-piece near the start of the film will mean you’ll never be able to hear MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” without a smile on your face ever again), this is a movie that humanises the inhabitants of various countries; those who we are supposed to believe support terrorists who wish to bring Western democracy to its knees.

What we find is that the silent majority in these countries aren’t slapping their heads and firing rifles into the air en masse. They, like all of us sane folk on this side of the fence, just want the madness to stop and for peace to break out. These likable individuals try to impress on the audience for this documentary that the nutters don’t represent the general population of these regions.

It manages to do this via a thoroughly entertaining jaunt, laced with humour whilst having a serious message well-told. The most annoying aspect of the movie is actually the fact that those with a non-American accent - who speak in English - are SUBTITLED, so that those who can’t get past dialect can follow what’s being said. I assume this is a necessity for a U.S. audience - which perhaps is more telling as to what the problem actually is with middle-America than anything else.

For those who caught the movie at the cinema, the DVD is still well worth a purchase, simply because of the extras, and in particular a host of deleted scenes. These are as follows:

Three Girls Saudi – Young women of Saudi Arabia reveal their take on the perceived Western misconceptions about Islam. It’s interesting how their definition of ‘freedom’ differs to our way of seeing it.

Watergate – a spoof of an underground car park scene from “All The President’s Men”, where the actual head of a CIA division tasked with tracking Bin Laden reveals very little.

Shimon Peres – the ninth President of Israel tries to explain his take on the situation with Palestine, in the context of what is and is not terrorism.

Afghan Animation – A history of Afghanistan, done as a cartoon featuring various spoofs of movie posters – the best being “1998 – A Cave Odyssey” which, naturally, is a parody of “2001”.

Martin McGuiness – An attempt to define the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist, in the context of the IRA.

Saad Ibrahim – A short interview with the Cairo-based civil rights activist, who says his aims are to make Egypt and the Arab world more democratic, believing in ‘the politics of engagement, not the politics of exclusion’.

Western Showdown – the alternative ending, which is actually far more satisfying than the one they eventually used. This CGI animation is video-game style, where the OK Corral becomes the scene for a head-to-head between Spurlock and ‘BL’, who changes from a nine foot tall bionic ninja to roadrunner during the course of proceedings. Worth the purchase price on its own.

Other extras include the Theatrical Trailer, and a 26 minute UK Exclusive interview with Morgan Spurlock. Here, he talks about being recognised in the UK, the genesis of this documentary, and how his wife’s pregnancy changed the original planned direction of the movie. He employed local journalists that assisted in getting some of the various exclusives throughout the film, although these didn’t help when the found themselves in an Orthodox Jewish quarter of Israel. His methodology with his work is to let a documentary grow in whatever direction it takes you, rather than force it on a planned course.

Indeed, Spurlock can see clearly why America’s image has changed worldwide to being that of an aggressor, and that the ‘Cult of Osama’ is everywhere - although he is nowhere to be seen. It’s as if a monster has been created to take over from previous Cold War bogeymen – although, as we have seen recently, the Russian Bear is back in focus again, so perhaps this week’s poll which showed half the people worldwide don’t believe Bin Laden was responsible for the events of 9/11 has led to a change in chief villain?

“Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden” is a thought-provoking film for those who believe the mass media’s view of the history of the 21st Century so far. However, for those of us who are not so sure, perhaps the new Jason Bermas documentary “Fabled Enemies” will be more of an eye-opener (we’ll be reviewing that one soon).

“Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden” is now available at £17.99 – or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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