LONDON -- Nearly every British newspaper yesterday carried photos of the assassination of President Bush -- or at least the realistic depiction of it from a new documentary-style television film that is causing an uproar in Britain.
The film, ``Death of a President," has been alternatively derided as a tasteless publicity grab and defended as a serious look at a plausible event that could have dramatic ramifications for the world.
``It's a disturbing film," said Peter Dale, head of More4, the television channel that will broadcast the film next month, following its Sept. 10 debut at the Toronto Film Festival.
``It raises questions about the effects of American foreign policy, and particularly the war on terror," said Dale, who denied criticism that the film made an anti-Bush or anti-American political statement. ``It's a fairly attention-grabbing premise but behind that is a serious and thought-provoking film."
In the film, Bush is assassinated by a sniper after making a speech in Chicago in October 2007. The investigation immediately centers on a Syrian-born gunman and a shocked nation confronts the war on terror in the post-Bush era.
Dale said the assassination scene, which comes about 10 minutes into the 90-minute film, is a glimpse rather than ``a gratuitously lengthy, gazing kind of scene." He said it was ``very small in comparison to the blood and death we see daily in the news" from Iraq.
``We know some people are going to be offended," Dale said. ``But you always risk offending people when you open people's eyes to the way the world is. Sometimes the truth is a bit unpalatable."
At the White House, spokesman Emily Lawrimore said of the film: ``We are not commenting because it doesn't dignify a response."
Some critics in London scoffed at arguments that the film was a serious piece of filmmaking. Several said More4, which began broadcasting just 10 months ago, was more interested in ratings than in exploring vital matters of public interest.
Britons awoke yesterday morning to see their morning newspapers carrying a black-and-white promotional photo, with a sort of Dallas-in-1963 feel, showing a mortally wounded Bush dying in a Secret Service agent's arms.