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VINE VOICEon 11 March 2006
In an innovative move Michael Winterbottoms film of the capture and internment of the so called "Tipton three" was given a simultaneous premiere on television, cinema and DVD. It's certainly a thought provoking film, worthy of such a unique approach. Whether it captures actual events with the ringing endorsement of absolute truth is another thing entirely.
The film opens with archive footage of Tony Blair and George W Bush telling us that as far as they are concerned all the people being held at Guantanamo Bay are "Bad People". As virtually every one knows that these two gentlemen are at best economical with the truth or more likely bare faced liars it's clear where the film is heading .And it won't please readers of the Daily Mail.
Taking it's title from the road movies of the 1940,s starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby but with even fewer laughs has a slightly more politically correct slant, the movie sees Birmingham lad Asif Iqbal ( Arfan Usman) who is about to get married invite his friends Shafiq Rasul( Rizwan Ahmed), Ruhal Ahmed( Farhad Rasun) to accompany him. Once in Pakistan they chill out, meeting family and friends. They seem very decent lads, giving food away to poor local children, pleasant and polite. Then in tow with another friend Monir ( Waqar Siddiqi) and Shafiq,s cousin Zahid ( Shahid Iqbal ) they decide , seemingly on a whim, mainly based on the fact the place has" huge nans " to cross the border into Afghanistan . Now this is one area of the film I have a problem with. There is a brief conversation between them about helping fellow Muslims, which is all conveniently vague. Are we to believe their plans for walking into a potential war zone were so nebulous? It doesn't ring true to me. Sight seeing in a place of political and sociological strife seems a bad move no matter how much you feel for the plight of your "Brothers" as you perceive them.
Once there they don't do very much, just hang about, tending each other when they fall ill. Very low key .Once the penny drops that there is nothing they can do to influence events they attempt to return to Pakistan but become caught up in some very realistic bombardment. Separated from Monir, who is the films true poignant victim, they are captured by the Northern Alliance and in some very powerful scenes are marched and then trucked to the infamous Sherbeghan Prison. Once their captors realise that they are English they hand them over to the Americans who promptly transfer them to Guantanamo bay in Cuba.
Once there they face endless interrogation by very stony faced Americans who shout " On Your knees " a lot , long periods of solitary confinement , some extremely uncomfortable scenes chained to the floor in anatomically compromising positions while un-pleasant death metal is played at excruciating volume. They give the same answers constantly to the same questions about Osama Bin Laden and are stoic to the point of heroic in the face of all this. Another facet of the movie that nags, gremlin like, at your reserves of credulity.
Their religion is constantly demeaned, the Koran is spat on and kicked around but their faith eventually pays off, because they are suddenly released after two years and returned to Britain where they face no charges Nor do they receive any compensation or even an apology.
Interspersed with all the dramatic footage the three men give talking head accounts of what happened to them and again come across as decent young men, lacking bitterness or anger. I would have been foaming at the mouth but aggressive shouty Americans get me like that.
The nagging doubt remains for me that large chunks of this story have been painted with very broad brush strokes. At times it verges on anti coalition propaganda, but playing them at their own game is certainly more than all right with me. Still I feel that a certain paucity of truth been employed with this version. The certain fact remains however, that their treatment and internment was despicable and blatant hypocrisy coming from administrations that purport to administer truth, equality and justice where none previously existed. If all this excellently edited and beautifully shot movie does is make a handful of people realise that then it will have not been made in vain. And poor Monir has never been seen again. Another sad pointless victim of the continuing "war on terror".
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on 8 July 2006
"The Road to Guantanamo" is an outstanding film, presented in docu-drama format, about the "Tipton Three" and their journey into the hell known as the "war on terrorism." The acting, filming, editing and storytelling are all excellent. It might have been easier to distinguish between the lives of the four main characters if more time was spent introducing each one of them at the beginning, but that minor fact does not take away from the very high quality of this work overall.

Watch the "The Road to Guantanamo" and go where the news media of the world, with all their money, resources and highly paid reporters, dare not tread. Highly recommended.
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The film sets out to involve the viewer in the disorientating effect of the events leading up to the capture of the three main protagonists and then their subsequent interrogation at the hands of the Americans.

The three main characters are so vaguely drawn that I could not relate to any of them except in a most shallow manner, so I took a personal perspective on what appears to be a convincing portrayal of the horror, inhumanity and denial of basic human rights and justice that is Guantanamo.

It would be nice to think that this is an account biased against America (for America read George Bush), but it accords with international condemnation and everything one hears in the news, and seeing it enacted is deeply disturbing.

On balance a docudrama that is skewed towards the documentary.

But everyone should watch this and worry about the distorting effects of terrorism on human rights.
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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2007
The Road To Guantanamo

The reasons for these intellectually challenged British Muslims leaving England and going directly to a war zone is left remarkably unclear. They wanted to "Help" or see large Nan bread? That for me is the most important question. Why did they go? I mean it is not what you would call a normal holiday. That crucial question is left unanswered.

Did these boys go to fight and then on seeing the realities of War try and escape?

The resulting experiences these boys were made to suffer are inexcusable in a modern world. Torture is simply not legitimate. Just listening to the interviewees should have been enough for the Americans and British to realise these kids posed little threat to anyone except to themselves.

How stupid they were not to shout to the rafters that they are British subjects. If they had come clean with British Military Intelligence things could have been very different.
I would like to see the evidence of the torture of these kids by the British Military. (Since writing this originally, I have found out the British Military did indeed use torture.)

If they had been given the chance, these boys would most certainly have come home to Britain at their first opportunity and probably never left again. This is an example of simple reality completely destroying indoctrinated and imagined beliefs.

The re-enactments are pretty poor. The objectivity is also very one-sided.
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on 24 October 2011
Like other reviewers have stated, this is an excellent and thought provoking documentary/ docudrama which is largely ruined by the fact that it is based on a lie. The director tries to paint the Tipton three to be angelic heroes when clearly this is not the case. No one can deny that what happened at Guantanemo was unforgiveable (as was the case at Abu Graib) but to depict these three as entirely innocent does the film no favours. It is interesting to note that two of the three have since admitted visiting a Taliban training camp and handling a gun. There is no doubt in my mind that they went to Afghanistan with idealistic notions (possibly of a Jihad) but this (needless to say) does not change the deplorable actions of George Bush et al.
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on 10 March 2006
i watched this on channel 4 (i think)like yesterday - the acting is great - story telling is fantastic and it makes you think twice about wars and pursecuting races just due to set events.
a worthy buy
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on 8 February 2008
A much needed and worthy watch, make no mistake, but try as hard as I could, I really struggled to have even the remotest iota of empathy for any of the 'tipton three '.

They are portrayed as very affable,charming young men, but then the misnomer kicks in...ok, fair enough,they go to Pakistan to celebrate a mate's wedding, but WHY did they go to Afghanistan? Bear in mind, this is late 2001, at the very height of the war on terror in Afghanistan.

Im not saying that the political motives of the Americans in Afghanistan are right or wrong, nor do I pass judgement on validating the need for 'camp x-ray', but I can't help but feel that these 3 men didnt end up in Afghanistan by accident, nor do i buy the nonsense that it was innocent vouyerism that took them there.

As far as I'm concerned, they got what they deserved, probably a lot LESS than they deserved, for it wasn't out of innocence and stupidity that they ended up in Afghanistan, and the real reason for me tehters closer to themsleves being sympathetic to terrorism and anti-western politics than it does to "oh..how did we get here?" nonsense which the left just love to believe.
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on 20 November 2014
Exposes the nonsense of the war on terror and the stupidity of those involved in the Guantanamo Bay prison. Excellent and, surprisingly at times very amusing.
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on 5 January 2009
So marriage-minded Asif, a British Muslim, travels with a group of his co-religionists to his ancestral home of Pakistan a few weeks after 9/11. For giggles, in the midst of massive American-led military actions, the lads decided to hop the Afghan border and head for Kandahar, home of the Taliban (as you do).

This preposterous, though well filmed 'innocents caught up in a nightmare' tale that director Mat Whitecross, launches is clear from that beginning that the truth of this story emanates solely from the mouths of Asif and his mates. They comment on their personal road to Guantanamo, while actors demonstrate what we are being told happened.

President Bush decided soon after the September attack, that he was going after the bad guys, and if that meant judicial fiat, respect for constitutional principals and international law were to be thrown out of the window, so be it. So here we have yet another botched, ill-conceived, shoot-from-the-hip plan to thwart terrorism, that does little more than give succor to the enemy and trample our moral high ground.

It is not unreasonable to conclude that Asif, and his colleagues had their civil and human rights soiled at Guantanamo. To date this debacle of a prison that masquerades as American jurisprudence has largely failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Bush's rendition policy. Inmates continue to leave after many years in legal limbo, uncharged and unconvicted. The subjects of this documentary serve solely as heroes and motivators for the anti-western forces of Islamism, and their oddly enthusiastic cohorts, Europe's Kuffar liberals. The fact that this movie was able to be made lays at the feet of the Bush administration, for it is they that established back door rules of engagement as they pretended to effect law and order. If Asif and his pals, who may well have been joining the Holy War in Afghanistan are now movie stars instead of convicts, it is a consequence of America's impetuous hubristic approach to thwarting its enemies.
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2006
I confess I had high hops of this film by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross. The topic is touchy and flamable and likely to stir upp emotions. That fact that captives are being held in Guantanamo against any legal precedence under extremely questionable conditions is worthy of report. Sadly this film is a very one sided affair, you are left with no explanation as to why the good Englishmen Rasul, Ahmed and Iqbal decide to leave Pakistan where Iqbal is suposed to get married (in what appears to be an arranged marriage (since we are on the topic of human rights)) and go to Taliban Afganistan. Nor is there a satisfactory explanation as to why our good three friends are arrested there with a group of Talibans. We do get some screen time showing that one of the three was very sick and we are led to believe they are very good people, all willing to help their fellow humans but I doubt Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross spent any effort finding out why they were there and took their story for face value. We do however later on receive information that at least two of them where petty criminals with extensive records in the UK and in my experience petty criminals normally don't go far out of their way in helping people in general.

I have no doubt that atrocity's are being committed at Guantanamo but I could not feel sorry for the trio which are portrayed as heros and have a strong suspicion that you are getting convenient half truths at certain parts of the story. This distracts from the point the movie is trying to get across and causes it to lose credibility for me.

I didn't enjoy the movie and regret buying it.
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