New film focuses on Iraq war vets, casualties

“Arlington West,” a recent documentary from filmmakers and longtime peace activists Sally Marr and Peter Dudar, is a sobering, enlightening and objective look at how the war in Iraq has affected the lives of young soldiers and families en route to and returning from the war zone.

Over 60 interviews with veterans and family members are combined with visits to symbolic “cemeteries” erected by Veterans for Peace (VFP) every Sunday on the beaches of Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and Oceanside, Calif. The cemeteries feature over 1,000 wooden crosses and a flag-draped coffin with flowers. VFP plans to keep the cemeteries going as long as the war continues.

One person observes, “If we were to honor the Iraqi dead, it would fill this entire beach.”

After viewing this film, I could not but reflect on the body bags and coffins returning from Vietnam, and how senseless “a rich man’s war and poor man’s fight” can be.

Dudar, who is also a musician, performs most of the very fine and sensitive musical score. The film is 56 minutes long, and hardly anyone left the showing with dry eyes.

For more information about the film, which was produced by Laughing Tears Productions, visit www.arlingtonwestfilm.org.