HBO describes Michael Ware’s film as “an illuminating window into the origins of a modern terrorist organization,” which is an apt characterization. Yet while watching it is no picnic due to the graphic nature of what’s on screen, “Only the Dead See the End of War” ultimately proves harder on the ears than it is on the eyes.
In his review of the film Brian Lowry says, “Ware arrived in Iraq in 2003 for what was supposed to be a three-week assignment for Time magazine. He left seven years later, having covered the fighting from both sides – spending time with the insurgency as well as U.S. troops – capturing an array of grim images that are presented in unflinching fashion, including close-up footage of a hooded gunman executing a handcuffed prisoner, and graphic evidence of a beheading.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, it takes an awful lot of pictures – grisly, horrific ones – to drown out the banality of the verbiage in “Only the Dead See the End of War,” Michael Ware’s video memoir of his seven years covering the conflict in Iraq. The Australian journalist’s heavy-handed narration is frequently groan inducing (“I no longer cared about dying”), but this otherwise-gripping HBO documentary nevertheless provides a stark portrait of the ruthlessness of jihadists and the brutality of war.” 
Produced by Penance Films/Wolfhound Pictures in association with Foxtel. Executive producer, Justine A. Rosenthal; producers, Patrick McDonald, Michael Ware; director, Bill Guttentag; writer, Ware; editor, Jane Moran; music, Michael Yezerski.
Watch rare video interviews and news reports in our Documentaries section.