Generation Kill: HBO's New Iraq War Miniseries

“Generation Kill,” HBO's miniseries based on Evan Wright's book of the same name, begins tonight, July 13, and runs through August 24, 2008. Make sure to watch: Spanning seven episodes, it's the most intriguing, thrilling, and realistic chronicle we have seen of the Iraq War, on the big or small screen, to date.

David Simon and Ed Burns, the creators of the acclaimed show “The Wire,” have done another masterly job in co-scripting and exec-producing the project, alongside Company Pictures' George Faber and Charles Pattinson (“Elizabeth I”).

“Generation Kill” offers a gritty, immediate, uncensored look at how American troops fought, behaved, and talked–the lingo is realistic and thus foul-mouthed. The series is based on Evan Wright's first-person book about his experiences as an embedded reporter with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the first phase of the war, in the spring of 2003.

The mini-series covers the tense and intense first month of the war, beginning with the preparations to invade Iraq and continuing with various encounters with the military and civilians in the alien territory, of which the Marines and the supervisors apparently knew very little.

While presenting a largely sympathetic portrait of the Marine warriors, the filmmakers devote equal attention to the atrocities, both innocent and calculated, specifically to the numerous innocent lives (many of them children) taken under Rules of Engagement.

I have watched the first four episodes and will review in greater detail several of them, but for now, allow me to share my enthusiasm for a brilliant, highly absorbing war series that present war as is, messy, chaotic, action-filled and marred by human and other errors.

Inspired by the extensively researched memoir, the cinema-verite series benefits from a stunningly authentic visual look, a result of six-months shoot in the summer 2007 in Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Susanna White and Simon Cellan Jones direct episodes of the series. Though there are leading roles, the show is very much an ensemble piece, based on a large cast of mostly young actors. There are over 52 speaking parts, and it takes at least two episodes to begin sort the central characters, about a dozen of them, which refreshingly do not represent types or stereotypes.

The Seven Episodes

Episode 1: Get Some – July 13, 2008
Episode 2: The Cradle of Civilization–July 20,
Episode 3: Screwby – July 27
Episode 4: Combat Jack – August 3
Episode 5: A Burning Dog – August 10
Episode 6: Stay Frosty – August 17
Episode 7: Pending – August 24, 2008

Major Roles

Sgt. Brad “Iceman” Colbert – Alexander Skarsgard
Cpl. Josh Ray Person – James Ransone
Evan “Scribe” Wright – Lee Tergesen
Sgt. Antonio “Poke” Espera – Jon Huertas
Lt. Nathaniel Fick – Stark Sands
Lance Cpl. Harold James Trombley – Billy Lush
Navy Hm2 Robert Timothy “Doc” Bryan – Jonah Lotan
Cpl. Evan “Q-tip” Stafford – Wilson Bethel
Cpl. Walt Hasser – Pawel Szajda


Camera: Ivan Strasburg.
Production designer: Rob Harris.
Editor: Jason Krasucki.
Casting: Alexa Fogel.

Running time: About 8 hours (some episodes run over one hour).