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Standard Operating Procedure

R Released Apr 25, 2008 1h 56m Documentary Crime Drama War List
79% Tomatometer 108 Reviews 79% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
Investigating the infamous Abu Ghraib scandal, Errol Morris interviews American guards and Iraqi prisoners who were at the military jail before images of prisoner torture emerged in 2004. One female guard, who posed alongside fallen Iraqis in notorious images, tells Morris that her crimes were inspired by her love for another soldier, and another explains why she took photographs of her fellow troops. In the process, Morris suggests that the scandal resulted from systemic flaws in the military. Read More Read Less
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Standard Operating Procedure

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Critics Consensus

Well researched and finely crafted, Standard Operating Procedure is another gem from master documentarian Errol Morris.

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Critics Reviews

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Michael Chaiken Film Comment Magazine The film's bloody dramatizations...suggest a fundamental distrust of the efficacy of the word over the image and a bland assumption that audiences have lost their ability to empathize. Nov 14, 2013 Full Review Peter Bradshaw Guardian For American military personnel to descend to Saddam's level was one of the worst moments in US history, and Morris's film reveals the truth: the poisonous Abu Ghraib pictures were not merely an American scandal but a human catastrophe. Rated: 4/5 Oct 18, 2008 Full Review St. Louis Post-Dispatch Rated: B Oct 18, 2008 Full Review Joanne Laurier World Socialist Web Site The documentary and accompanying book contain a good deal of valuable and harrowing material. Mar 5, 2021 Full Review David Lamble Bay Area Reporter Even the title of this nuanced and layered interrogation doesn't come into focus until the third act, as Oscar-winning doc-maker Errol Morris gets too close for comfort to the multiple deadly meanings behind the shocking pictures from Abu Ghraib prison. Jun 1, 2020 Full Review Dan DiNicola The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY) Errol Morris' documentary... should be seen by all Americans but probably will viewed only by a relative handful. Mar 3, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Audience Member A perfect companion piece to 'Taxi to the Dark side', despite the two films coming from different filmmakers, 'Standard Operating Procedure' is a terrifying look at the events that took place within Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. Whilst 'Taxi to the Dark Side' focusses on the victims, 'Standard Operating Procedure' focuses firmly on the perpetrators, who are given the chance to tell their own stories and sides to the horrible images that made front-page news upon their release. There's a lot to take away from this one, and all of it is great food for thought, but the importance of the easy availability of digital photography is a particularly interesting angle that fits perfectly into the events surrounding this film. Another home-run from Error Morris. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review Audience Member Very depressing but an excellent documentary. It shows the truth that the higher ups covered their asses b/c of Abu Ghraib and threw expendable lower ranking soldiers under the bus. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/23/23 Full Review Audience Member Brutally hard to watch. On one hand I appreciate Morris attempting to illustrate how the photographs can be a distraction from the bigger picture but on the other hand I wonder how these men or their families would appreciate such a film showing the pictures and immortalizing their suffering for everyone to see. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review Audience Member One of the most prolific documentary directors, Errol Morris, tells the story of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal from several perspectives. Bringing his usual subjective objectivity, Morris presents several sides to the story, but has a clear version of the story that he's trying to portray. Morris wants us to understand the psyche of a person who would allow and perpetuate these atrocities on another person, while at the same time pointing the finger at everyone involved (all the way up to the top of the chain of command). It definitely slows down in it's second half, but there's enough creative storytelling to keep things interesting. One thing I found interesting in the film is how reserved the interviewees were with their stories. It felt like everyone had an agenda, and only told what kept the blame on someone else. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member I like recent Errol Morris way better than old Errol Morris. Gates of Heaven and Fast Cheap and Out of Control are grating as hell. But his style from First Person onward is great. This is a really good documentary. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Audience Member a truly depressing great documentary... Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/17/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Standard Operating Procedure

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Investigating the infamous Abu Ghraib scandal, Errol Morris interviews American guards and Iraqi prisoners who were at the military jail before images of prisoner torture emerged in 2004. One female guard, who posed alongside fallen Iraqis in notorious images, tells Morris that her crimes were inspired by her love for another soldier, and another explains why she took photographs of her fellow troops. In the process, Morris suggests that the scandal resulted from systemic flaws in the military.
Director
Errol Morris
Producer
Julie Ahlberg, Errol Morris, Amanda Branson Gill, Ann Petrone
Distributor
Sony Pictures Classics
Production Co
Participant Prods.
Rating
R (Disturbing Images|Content Involving Torture|Graphic Nudity|Language)
Genre
Documentary, Crime, Drama, War
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Apr 25, 2008, Limited
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 1, 2012
Box Office (Gross USA)
$228.8K
Runtime
1h 56m
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