'Three Kings' chastises Bush administration
September 30, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- According to its lead player, "Three Kings" is more entertainment than political statement. The film, scheduled to be released October 1, stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube as U.S. soldiers who, at the end of the Persian Gulf War, try to steal some gold the Iraqi army allegedly took from Kuwait.
Writer-director David O. Russell spent 18 months researching the war and its aftermath before scripting "Three Kings," according to the movie's official Web site. Russell is quoted as saying, "When I started investigating the war, I only knew the official story -- that we went to the Middle East and kicked (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.
"But when I looked at it more closely, I saw that Hussein was left in power and (United States President) George Bush encouraged the Iraqi civilians to rise up against Hussein and said, 'We'll help you do it.' And the people did rise up, and we didn't support them ... and they got massacred by their own army."
Clooney says he hopes the film will prompt discussion among viewers, but he says that's not the main intent. "What it's designed to do is be entertainment," he says.
A lot of the comedy is provided by a newcomer to feature films who might be called "the fourth king" -- music-video director Spike Jonze. Jonze recently directed his own first feature film, "Being John Malkovich," starring Malkovich, John Cusack and Cameron Diaz. And actress Nora Dunn plays a hard-driving war correspondent, said to have been modeled on CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
But there were some not-so-funny moments off the set in shooting "Three Kings." While it looks like the story takes place in a desert, it was filmed at a copper mine, according to Ice Cube.
"Everybody got sick," Wahlberg says. "George has gotten sick for a couple of days, and I had to go to the hospital. I was breathing in a lot of the dust out there."
And while some elements of the film concerned its production company, Warner Bros., Russell tells the New York Times that the key political premise -- that the White House encouraged the Iraqi resistance and then abandoned it -- was never questioned.
"The whole thing just got swept away," Russell tells the Times, "with the yellow ribbons and everything."
CNN Entertainment News Correspondent Mark Scheerer contributed to this report.
"Three Kings" is produced and distributed by Warner Bros., a Time Warner sister property to CNN Interactive.
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