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Gunner Palace

Released: 2004

Genre: Documentary

Runtime: 1 hr 25 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker

Starring: Bryant Davis, Devon Dixon, Elliot Lovett, Javorn Drummond, Stuart Wilf, Nick Moncrief, Richmond Shaw, Jon Powers, Terry Taylor

Documentary follows American soldiers on patrol in Iraq.

A powerful and unfiltered war documentary.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

Independent filmmakers Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein offer a soldier’s-eye view of the new Iraq in Gunner Palace, a powerful and unfiltered war documentary set in and around Baghdad between September 2003 and April 2004. Tucker spent these months with the 2-3 Field Artillery Battalion, also known as the Gunners, who were living in a bombed-out palace once owned by the late Uday Hussein.

Dispassionately narrated by co-director/cinematographer Tucker, Gunner Palace follows a colorful assortment of American soldiers as they patrol the streets of Baghdad by day and sniff out insurgents by night. They kid around, quote Full Metal Jacket and perform in remarkable sessions of free-style rap. Their worst fear is encountering an IED, or Improvised Explosive Device. In a terrifying scene, Tucker’s camera shakes from a distance as a soldier approaches what may be an IED or just a curiously placed piece of trash.

Gunner Palace includes sights and sounds most Americans have never experienced in the long history of the war. We see American soldiers actively pursuing Iraqi girls for dates. We also hear excerpts from Freedom Radio, which is part of American Forces Network, ensuring servicemen not to worry about their student loans.

Whatever your feelings toward the war, this is a must-see movie. The gap in media coverage, as well as innovations in digital video technology, has left an opening for independent filmmakers. These really are mighty times for independent movies.

In one of the free-style scenes, a GI says of his tour in Iraq, “No need to like this, but please respect it.” With films like Gunner Palace and A Company of Soldiers, the PBS-FRONTLINE documentary, viewers have the opportunity to fulfill this young soldier’s wish.