Shane Gulliver and Mark ‘Treacle’ Tate are two 18-year-old friends serving in the British Army in Basra, Iraq in 2003. The troops were struggling to maintain the fragile peace. When their popular Captain Godber is killed by a bomb on patrol, morale takes a nosedive. Suspects are sought and arrested and in a night of heated emotions, prisoners mistreated. When they get back to England, photographs of the abuse of prisoners emerge clumsily and Shane and Treacle could expect to be prosecuted.
Scriptwriter Tony Marchant became fascinated by the phenomenon of graphic trophies. Together with co-producer Katy Jones, he interviewed returning soldiers and decided that the stories would be better served in a fictional form. The director Marc Munden then rehearsed the scenes intensively with the actors.
The Mark of Cain is an exciting, convincing war film that provides insight into some unpleasant aspects of the war in Iraq better than the news on TV. Great attention is focused on the realistic appearance of the fighting, local colour and the psychological development of the protagonists. With great ambitions, yet a relatively small budget and a cast of young actors - in which Gerard Kearns excels as Treacle - this is one of the best features about this futile war. (EH)