WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 24-Jun-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Crew-Danny Schechter (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making & Mission Of WMD
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 98:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Danny Schechter
Studio
Distributor
Ovation Starring Danny Schechter
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Nenad Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As stated in the recent review of Control Room, the behind-the-scenes look at the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera during the war in Iraq, documentaries that lift the lid on some of the methods the commercial media use to spread their message will always be important. This type of critical analysis has taken on new importance in the information-hungry and dangerous world in which we find ourselves in 2005 when every news service puts some sort of spin on their output to increase ratings, with truth often being bent slightly. Unlike Fahrenheit 9/11, which focused more on the Bush Administration and some of its dodgy dealings than on the sole bias of the media, or Outfoxed - Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, which dealt with one particular news network only, WMD - Weapons of Mass Deception offers a far more reaching and digestible message that shows almost all of the American media had some form of bias and spin in coverage of the war in Iraq.

    According to the director, narrator and media critic Danny Schechter, there were two wars occurring in Iraq during 2003. One was fought with soldiers, bombs, and a myriad of amazingly high-tech weaponry. The other was fought at exactly the same time but with cameras, satellites and a hoard of hungry journalists. The first war was fought in an effort to bring down Saddam Hussein and find the supposed WMDs or weapons of mass destruction the dictator had hidden in Iraq, while the other was carried out by a similar set of WMDs, or weapons of mass deception.

    A man who knows his media (he's been involved at most levels for 30 odd years), Schechter is an angry man as he contends the US television networks distorted the truth and followed the Bush Government line in an almost "communist era" "state-run" style of media delivery which the unsuspecting public swallowed hook, line and sinker. There was little, if any, criticism or questioning of the US government's intentions with the large networks packaging the war as entertainment and a highly marketable product. He also contends the story US media told was vastly different to the one seen in other countries around the world. Now this might have been the case in Europe, but with Australia a firm partner in the so-called Coalition of the Willing, I can pretty well guarantee that our news coverage followed the US model pretty closely, with jingoistic images of the Aussie troops in action and laughable, almost Hollywood style, graphics and voiceovers accompanying the nightly blanket new coverage (this is unless you worked for the ABC, and then you had communications minister Richard Alston breathing down your neck for being biased against the war).

    Schecter hopes that WMD is a film that asks the questions he says his colleagues in the media refused to confront before, during and after the war. The documentary features plenty of footage from inside Iraq (including much that you will not have seen before if your media diet is restricted to mainstream television).

    This is important viewing for anyone who thinks the commercial media outlets provide us with news and current affairs merely as a public service. News is a product for sale that makes big bucks, and in this modern era the message is often more difficult to get across.

    It's an old cliché that in war truth is the first casualty, and if the details highlighted in this thought-provoking documentary are any guide, this adage still rings true today.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    WMD is apparently an ultra-low budget film with much of the image filmed on what appears to be digital tape-based equipment coupled with various news program sourced material. So don't expect too much in terms of pristine, vibrant, or colourful film-like images here. There is grain evident in many of the shots with poor lighting, but overall this is a reasonably clean image. There is no low level noise.

    Colours aren't exactly what I'd call vibrant, but the style of film and the content matter presented doesn't really call for heaps of bright colour.

    There are no compression or film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts are also absent with much of the film shot on tape.

    There are no subtitles which is a shame.

    This is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 75:21.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This documentary comes with just one soundtrack, this being a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track in English. Switching on pro logic decoding seemed to indicate there is a surround flag embedded in the bitstream with some significant separation across the front three channels present.

    This is a soundtrack dominated by news grabs, interviews and various talking heads, so it really doesn't need anything special. There is some reasonable separation of sound effects across the front speakers, mostly notably the music. Dialogue is clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    There is a little music that supports the on screen action.

    There is no discrete surround channel or subwoofer usage.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Interviews-Crew

    Running for 15:49 this is a few bits of interview footage featuring Danny Schechter coupled with some highlights from the film. He at least gets a chance to explain the aims of the film and some of the reaction it has enjoyed.

Featurette-Making Of

    Despite running for a lengthy 30:02 this is a fairly poor making-of extra. Rather than show some real behind the scenes action it basically cobbles together several highlights and grabs from the film and sticks them together with the little bit of new interview material featuring Danny Schechter that is all contained in the previous extra.

Theatrical Trailer

     This is a 1:58 trailer for the film that covers all the aspects of what it is about quite nicely.

Trailer

    A trailer for Outfoxed - Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism, another documentary exposing the sneaky and somewhat trashy way that Fox News Network goes about its business. Runs for 2:27.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From all accounts the Region 1 version of this disc is completely devoid of any extras. This makes the Region 4 version the pick despite the slightly repetitive nature of the bonus material.

Summary

     Documentaries that lift the lid on some of the methods the commercial media use to spread their message in these modern times will always be important. WMD - Weapons of Mass Deception offers a far more reaching and digestible message than that found in Fahrenheit 9/11 or Outfoxed - Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism. As a result, it is also far more disturbing as it shows how widespread the dumbing down of journalism has become and how much of a commodity it really is.

    The video and audio quality are fine for the type of film, while the extras are fairly basic and a touch repetitive.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE