'They were kind of atrocities but they'd gone unnoticied, unrecognized, they'd been done in the name of leisure almost.'
'The NoW reveals that the video has a further two minutes of footage shot at various intervals. In one sequence, the cameraman is shown an Iraqi corpse and proceeds to kick the dead man in the face twice, whilst a soldier sniggers: “He’s been a bad mother****er.”'
There's a parallel between the charcter of Richard in Dead Man's Shoes (2004) being a soldier, and the film being released a year after Iraq, three after Afghanistan. Like Northern Ireland there is a lot of horror waiting to come out: nobody talks about Northen Ireland today, and barely anyone talks about Afghanistan or Iraq. The topic is taboo. There are no comforting myths to emerge from the War on Terror: in a great act of collective memory it has been entirely forgotten. The BBC have rewritten their history in an attempt to reinforce the commonsense "nobody could have wanted this" storyline that will eventually become the true story, if any story at all. In Dead Man's Shoes (2004) Richard visits supernatural, violent justice on the lowlifes who killed his brother. It is a film about the importance of taking responsibility: slaying the guilty, and once becoming guilty yourself in the process, seeking self-terminarion. Richard's justice is moral: his enemies are the lowest degenerates of the working class, druggies and immoral scum. They even listen to the wrong music, hip hop rather than the tasteful alt-Americana or wistful folk supplied by Warp. Whatever the intention a trawl of youtube comments reveals commenters seem to have incorporated the film directly alongside the likes of Death Wish and Dirty Harry: they deserve it, every one. The post-apocalyptic state of Britain is well described, casual violence, isolation, and no future, propaganda for any leftist reading; the solutions however, a culling of the irressponsible and devolved, is straight out of the right's playbook. The old embers of political struggle were fading out in the early 2000s, a strange period when the organizations and individuals the left assumed were allies began advocated wars they knew could only have the consequences they did if they had any idea of history. Even the BBC couldn't be trusted anymore. The feedback can be observed in popular militarism (which will likely die with the wars) and the stark reactions to send in the army in response to 2011's riots.
The prediction buried within Edge of Darkness (1985) and GBH (1990) was that Britain (England particularly) had become occupied territory: an alien colonizing force was manipulating what seemed like organic commonsense developments for the good of the colonizer's. Dead Man's Shoes is a depiction, along with elements of GBH, about how the colony should be policed and what should make up the policeman. Detatchment, responsibility, and a calm repose are what is required. After a time, as in Kenya, the Congo, or elsewhere, the violence flows naturally. The battles of the 80s and 90s dramas are done with, more history than ever in the wake of the totem of that era's death: with the natives broken and scattered, what becomes of us next?