The movie was released in the United Kingdom on March 3, 1998. The movie opened in France on March 10, 1998 and finished #2 in the United States, grossing $31.1 million in France. The movie was not released in the United Kingdom because of the high production costs.
The movie opened in the United States and Canada on December 16, 1997 and was the number one film in the United States. The movie grossed $26.1 million in its opening weekend and finished #4 in the United States.
The film was also lambasted for the incorrect perception of the US as good and the Iraqi army as evil. In addition, the movie also unfairly portrayed the US military. The US military had an abysmal record of violating international law in the Gulf War. The US military killed thousands of civilians with poisonous weapons and illegally occupied Kuwait. The movie also portrayed Iraq as a rogue state and Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator. It also made it appear that Iraq was invading Kuwait to grab the oil and violate Iraqi territorial integrity. The movie showed Saddam Hussein as a madman bent on world domination and the US as the good guy.
The film was released to generally positive reviews from the film critics. The plot outline was generally similar to the book but with differences. The movie expanded upon the characters and plot but kept the core of the story in tact. The film opened on December 16, 1997 and was scheduled for a limited release until December 24, 1997. The word-of-mouth publicity the film received heavily influenced the decision to expand the release to 27 February 1998.
More importantly, the film portrays the CIA as being manipulated by the Bush administration. While the film portrays the CIA as being reluctant to invade Iraq, (in essence, it had no alternative but to do so), the CIA actually advocated going to war, and had information that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Niger. The film portrays the CIA as being manipulated by the Bush administration, but in actuality, the CIA was not even aware of the Niger uranium issue until four days after the war began. Brinkley writes, “By the end of the movie, the CIA has lost its credibility, but it has lost it before the audience knows it.”
The movie received critical acclaim from critics. The movie received the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the 1998 National Board of Review Awards for Best Foreign Film and Best Director.
Several former officials of the Ministry said that the film over-played the role of diplomats and bureaucrats in the Gulf War and that the ministry was criticized about this by Western journalists. “Our impression is that the movie gave a clean chit to the Americans,” said a former official of the ministry. “The film presented the Americans as the heroes. For example, it showed the UN airlift taking off with no question asked by the Indian bureaucrats,” said a former official of the ministry.
The movie also used the phrase “fictional account” to describe the details of the Indian role in the Gulf War, which was a deliberate attempt to suggest that the movie was not based on facts. “The film was trying to suggest that there were a lot of inaccuracies in the film. But the movie was based on a fictional account. It is a work of fiction,” said the official. “Even the Indian media did not mention anything about how the film was based on facts. The film made the US look like heroes and the Indians look like doormats,” said the official. 827ec27edc