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Measuring the interconnected web
on 20 June 2010
Stephen Gaghan wrote and directed this film,using Bob Baeur's book ,See No Evil,(based on his time as a CIA agent) as a leaping off point.The screenplay is what drew the cast of major actors.Gaghan wrote the script for Traffic. It's a densely plotted,highly-wrought work,sometimes obscure,drip-feeding you vast amounts of information, in a series of short 1-1.5 minute scenes and a large cast of characters, simultantaneously,all over the world.Sometimes it's hard to glean what is being said and who is saying it and why they are saying it.I resented this obstacle to understanding, and you need to watch the film very closely.The thesis of Syriana is the system is wrong,people, governments,individuals are caught up in it.Big Business,corporations run the show.The rat race for control of Persian Gulf oil by whatever means necessary determines who dominates the world. Government is controlled by underlying forces.Only repeated viewing uncovers how 5 different narrative strands come together in this intricate tale of corruption,greed and power.The minor roles are all excellent too.
George Clooney plays Bob Barnes as a fallen from grace CIA operative,overweight and bearded.He is the emotional heart and provides the momentum of the story.He is asked to stay `on message',is coming to the end of his active career and to get a desk job is being asked to go to Beirut and assassinate Prince Nasir.He is being cut loose. Jeffrey Wright plays Bennett Holiday,a lawyer investigating the merger of Connex and Killeen,'fixing' problems. This is a central role.Matt Damon plays an ambitious energy analyst,who through a personal tragedy becomes a financial consultant to Prince Nasir,assisting his revolutionary views for changes in the Arab world. Wassim(Munhir)a poor immigrant Pakistani worker,shows the Islamicisation of displaced youth,calling for the ultimate sacrifice.The Prince is involved with the Chinese and this sets off scenes of torture,murder, corruption, suicide, kidnap, betrayal.'Syriana' is the name given to an Americanised Middle East,manufacturing consent of the people and world powers to make life easier for elites.Possibly there is an element of conspiracy theories at work but the film is an eye-opener to many actualities and realities,forces at work in the world that ultimately warp and distort democracies of the free world.
This is a multi-perspectival ,multiplotted film of 87-90 scenes of various characters in the west and the Middle East,whose subject is oil and Big Business's desire to get its hands on this rapidly diminishing resource,the shadey deals,the mergers of oil companies,involving torture,the CIA,murder,extremes of poverty,spies,Islamist radicalization,corruption,immigrant labourers,Emirs,Princes,industrialists,politicos.The film is shot without any flourishes, on hand-held cameras and influences the energy with which such a vast subject is tackled.It's not a total success as it takes a gathering momentum of small scenes by ¾ of the film before you understand,but it's a significant film, which earned Clooney the best supporting actor Oscar.It contains elements of a thriller, but has no big action scenarios.The film challenges the audience to come to their own conclusions of what is going on.With climate change, issues of oil pollution and dwindling resources,this is no small feat in mainstream film.