The Invisible War (2012)

8.5 Overall Score

Tough subject

Some questionable and subjective numbers

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Invisible War

Studio:  Chain Camera Pictures

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 20, 2012 (Sundance)/June 22, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Can’t get medical coverage for the injuries that were sustained during her rape

Deciding to join the military is one of the biggest decisions of a person’s life.  For women, it is even a more difficult one since they are submerged in one of the ultimate “boys’ clubs”.  Exploring the dangers of this world, this documentary explores rape in the U. S. military (for both men and women) and the courses of action available to the victims, plus the ramifications of coming forward.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick, The Invisible War was met with acclaim and fame.  The movie was the audience winner for Best Documentary at Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (losing to Searching for Sugar Man).


Followed in her father’s footsteps to join the military

This is a tough subject that often comes down to subjectivity.  The whole difficult question of “what is rape” has been debated nationally over the years…what one ranking officer (or politician) might claim is consensual is out and out rape because it comes down to one person’s word against another’s.  The stigma of coming forward with rape has lessened in basic society, but probably is tougher in a group that women are constantly having to prove themselves to their male counterparts (who often are paid to be command men and women under them).  Regardless of how a person defines “rape”, this movie shows that the outlets available to the victims are awful within all branches of the military and it is shocking how they often become the accused (the irony of being charged with conduct unbecoming of an officer and adultery is insult to injury).

The question this movie raises for me is in the numbers which I find a bit difficult.  As mentioned rape is a taboo subject and most of the numbers thrown up by the filmmakers are based on estimates and figures due to societal studies.  The military is a whole different entity so the skewering of numbers could be bigger or lesser than claimed in some incidents, but I feel that the numbers were skewered higher for shock.


…Still coping

What isn’t in question is the women interviewed are still coping and facing opposition.  They are in all stages of acceptance and I do like seeing the various levels of dealing with what some of them have been facing for years.  I do find the questioning of a man for one segment a bit strange and it muddies the water of the documentary by changing the focus.  I know that rape among men in the military does occur, but it feels out of place here…either it should have been expanded or omitted.

Documentaries that raise questions are the best documentaries and this one does raise question.  It actually had an impact and that also is a good sign of a documentary asking the right questions.  The Invisible War asks the right questions but almost doesn’t go deep enough at points.  It is an important issue and worth seeking out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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