The Invisible War

The Invisible War

2012, NR, 93 min. Directed by Kirby Dick.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 24, 2012

Strap in tightly before the lights go down because you will likely blow a gasket in response to the information contained in this documentary. The Invisible War represents advocacy journalism at its best. You will see in the film’s coda how it has already prompted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to issue a policy change after viewing the film this past April prior to its national release. The rampant problem of rape in all branches of the U.S. military is the subject of The Invisible War.

Though constructed primarily as a talking-heads documentary by Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated), the technique is effective in this instance. The film starts with the testimonies of a handful of women, but steadily increases their number until it reaches an astonishing scope. Using statistics compiled by the military, it has been determined that 20% of all female veterans report having been sexually assaulted while serving. As horrifying as that statistic is, add to it the depressing reality that the majority of sexual assaults are never even reported. The movie shows how reporting assaults can be particularly problematic for service members, who may find their violator and commander to be one and the same. Also detrimental is the military’s macho ethos that protects the predators, blames the victims, and punishes those who report the abuse. Furthermore, not all the victims are women. A couple of men who were formerly soldiers also testify about being raped.

This film is even more heartbreaking because the ex-service members who speak on film all begin by saying how much they loved serving in the military. All of them now feel betrayed by the same institution that has discharged them, accused them of lying, and denied them rape-related medical benefits – all while continuing to protect the accused rapists from prosecution and often giving them promotions. Even if you do not see this movie yourself, please encourage any young woman you know who is considering enlistment to watch this movie first.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Kirby Dick Films
The Hunting Ground
Doc exposes rape culture on the university campus

Marc Savlov, April 3, 2015

Outrage
The objective of this documentary by Kirby Dick is to out closeted gay and lesbian policymakers, whose hypocrisy harms the GLBT community.

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 29, 2009

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
Love means never having to flip to the B side

March 16, 2024

SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
A Hollywood garden party unearths certain truths

March 12, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Invisible War, Kirby Dick

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle