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57 minutes, 1987, closed captioned on DVD only Middle East DVD supplement provided with institutional orders only Producers/Directors: Bill Jersey and Jeffrey Friedman Based on the book by Sam Keen [Image from 'The New World War' by John Clark Mead]
ABOUT THE FILM
As relevant today as when it was first released, Faces of the Enemy follows social psychologist Sam Keen as he unmasks how individuals and nations dehumanize their enemies to justify the inhumanity of war.
Using archival news footage, public service announcements, and editorial cartoons, Keen unveils the same frightening pattern in conflict after conflict - World War II, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, Islamic and Christian Fundamentalism - and prefigures the current War on Terrorism. First we identify ourselves as victims. Then we blame, demonize and finally dehumanize our adversaries, rationalizing our murder of other human beings.
Faces of the Enemy contends that before a drop of blood is spilled we must ‘think each other to death.’ It is a story replayed on the nightly news, in Islamic Fundamentalists’ characterization of the West as the ‘Great Satan’ and our own stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists. In a revealing examination of the images and iconography of war Keen interviews the nation’s leading editorial cartoonists. They discuss how they use an almost universal language of stereotypes and prejudices to tap into readers’ most visceral emotions.
In a chilling example of the psychological roots of enmity, we meet David Rice, an unemployed welder now an inmate on Death Row. Influenced by far-right propaganda, Rice decided communism was responsible for his personal problems. He bludgeoned to death a family of four whom he (mistakenly) thought were communists. He remains without remorse regarding them as ‘collateral damage’ in a war against the Evil Empire. The Christian Fundamentalist leaders who inspired Rice are only too happy to explain that they are in a holy war against communists and any non-believers.
By contrast, William Broyles, a Viet Nam veteran and author, returned after the war to personalize the individuals who had been his enemies’ to humanize the abstractions. He explains how racist terms and images can be used to turn human beings into monsters. These epithets and images extend the circumstances of war into terrible brutality. But he also explains how we can move beyond these dehumanizing thoughts and seek out the humanity of others.
Psychologists Robert Lifton and Steven Kull explain how war and artificial enemies provide people with the moral and mental certainties they crave, giving them a sense of purpose in a sometimes-ambiguous world. Mythologist Joseph Campbell, providing a note of hope, suggests that underneath the mask of the enemy we ultimately recognize ourselves. This, Campbell further contends, may be the origin of compassion, brotherhood and altruism, in other words the inverse of war.
California Newsreel is proud to re-release this important film for the first time on DVD with special commentary by Bill Jersey and Sam Keen. Particularly relevant is a complimentary supplement (available only on DVD to those purchasing an institutional version), illuminating complexities in the media and military worlds of today's conflicts in the Middle East. Also available on videocassette, this is a film who's urgent message needs to be heard now more than ever.
"What a man is Sam Keen! His documentary is uncannily timely, reminding us that enemy making is taking place on both sides of the al-Qaeda - Bush conflict. It is particularly striking how similar the situation is to that of the VietNam war, or even WWII."
Daniel Ellsberg The Pentagon Papers
"Faces of the Enemy has long been one of my most treasured resources. It helps us understand how systems corrupt citizens to hate an arbitrarily designated "Other" and soldiers to want to kill that "Other-Enemy."
The addition of Sam Keen's updated commentary adds further depth and power to this vital narrative, making it truly breathtaking. This is MUST viewing for everyone in social sciences or history, and should be required of all our politicians."
Philip Zimbardo, Former President, American Psychological Association
"The work that Keen has done lays out so clearly that dehumanization of enemies is a dangerous human phenomenon that all of us must avoid, no matter what culture, nationality, or ethnicity we claim."
Anne Anderson, President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (A.P.A.)
"A film all humanity should see!"
"Faces of the Enemy raises many important questions that will help cartoonists employ their craft in a more intelligent and responsible way. Every school library should have a copy, and it should be part of any sane educational curriculum."
James Sturm, Director Center for Cartoon Studies National Association of Comics Art Educators
"Everyone interested in conflict resolution should see this. A brilliant film!"
Allen Calvin, Former President Pacific Graduate School of Psychology
"An absolutely essential guide for anyone who suspects that there's a more humane way to resolve conflicts than reaching for the napalm."
"One of the most challenging and thoughtful documentaries you're likely to see this year."
"Faces of the Enemy presents complex, thought-provoking ideas in a thoroughly accessible film package."