American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
If you're a young person thinking of enlisting in the U.S. military, you might want to give this some thought: A recent court decision held that rape was an "occupational hazard" of the job. Department of Defense official figures indicate 22,800 rapes occurred last year in the Armed Services. Most of the victims were women, but perhaps 10 percent were men.
Although the department itself provided the figure, last year only 3,000 rapes were officially reported; less than 200 of the accused were convicted. I was vaguely aware of the epidemic of military rape, but until watching this film, which follows the stories of a group of victims, I had no idea how widespread and urgent the crime was.
About that time, the crimes of Penn State's Jerry Sandusky were revealed. He was found guilty last week on 45 of 48 charges. In every talk I had, people asked how many more assaults he committed — and why those at Penn State who knew about him remained silent.
"The Invisible War" suggests one reason. Both sports and the military are macho cultures that lay great emphasis on authority and teamwork. You follow the leader. You go along with the program. Your complaint not only casts your commanding officer in a bad light, but also may involve him; the film says "25 percent of women didn't report an incident — because their commander was their rapist."