Innocent Voices (2004) Poster

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10/10
A film that should not be ignored
Jennifer1 January 2005
I have just seen the movie here in El Salvador, where I am on vacation. My parents are both Salvadoran, and I have visited here many times, as well as resided here for several years. I remember visiting during war time, seeing soldiers with their guns, though i was a very young child unaware of the true situation.

This movie brought to light the horrible scenes and awful truths of the atrocities that occurred during the war, and that still happen in warfare today. Looking through the eyes of an eleven-year-old child in fear of recruitment, you are brought straight into the war and his life. Everyone in the audience had heard good things about the movie, and in turn agreed; we applauded when the movie was over. There is humor, romance, and of course, tragedy. Some parts were almost unbearable to watch, but then the movie is portraying a reality that we should not and cannot ignore.

I strongly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone, and I hope they will soon bring it to the U.S. and abroad.
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10/10
The most accurate movie about El Salvador
victorderas27 December 2004
I'm from El Salvador and went to see the movie yesterday with my wife. First, it's unbelievable that the government allowed this film to be presented in the country. Usually they forbid the showings of any movie that touches the topic of the war because they want to erase the memories of war to present the image of a new country, but without learning from the mistakes of our past.

Second, I've seen a couple of movies about El Salvador (Oliver Stone's Salvador and Romero) and I gotta say that this movie is the most accurate depiction of the environment of wartime in El Salvador. The forceful recruitment depicted in the movie was an everyday ordeal for most families of humble status, with the army stopping the bus and taking all young men to the barracks.
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10/10
An incredible journey as seen through the innocent eyes of an 11-year-old boy.
oidiaz3 January 2005
I saw this film in El Salvador, while I was on vacation visiting relatives. It is a very good film. Somehow, I'd hoped that it would be this good. I have seen previous films about El Salvador, from "Salvador" by Oliver Stone to "Romero", but none of those films come close to portraying how this civil war affected thousands of civilians. The film depicts the story of Chava, an 11 year-old boy, whose main concern is that as soon as he turns 12 he will be recruited by the Military to fight the Guerillas. Through his eyes, we see the atrocities that are brought upon his family,friends and his own life. Though it is set in El Salvador, this could be a story from anywhere around the world, where a Civil War breaks out and the effects on its own people.

The characters are well written; the plot well told and the actors, especially, the kid playing Chava are very good. It is void of any clichés as many films when dealing with delicate subjects such as a civil war. You can see that these are real people going through a great ordeal, unlike "Salvador" or even "Romero" whose characters and plots were obviously made up based on facts read on news papers. I highly recommend this film to everyone who wants to see the reality of war and its consequences on the lives of innocent people.
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9/10
Outstanding! Signs of a major development in New Mexican Cinema
ixta_coyotl3 June 2005
I just saw this film at the Seattle International Film Festival premiere and I enjoyed it immensely. I was a little apprehensious as I am a big fan of Oliver Stone's Salvador and I didn't think there was much more to say on the topic. But I must say that Voces Innocentes managed to bring something new to the table thru the innovative idea of telling the story thru the eyes of children. Adding to its poignancy is the fact that it's all based on the true life story of Oscar Orlando Torres, called by his nickname Chava in the film. Torres was present at the screening tonight and few who stayed to listen to him were not moved by his words and life experience. First time actor Carlos Padilla portrays Chava in the film, and his outstanding performance is a credit as much to director Luis Mandoki as it is to himself. The gorgeous Leonor "Cleopatra" Varela also shows she is much more than a pretty face, putting in a very moving performance as Chava's mother. The rest of the cast is also routinely superb, including Spaniard Daniel Giménez Cacho as the priest and Jesus Ochoa (uncredited on IMDb) as the bus driver. Voces Inocentes was filmed in Jalapa, Mexico and produced by the Mexican company Altavista Films (Amorres Perros, Todo el Poder, Nicotina). The cinematography and editing are world class, and the magnificent score really puts the film over the top. Torres told us that the main theme (played on the guitar by his uncle and in the closing credits) was his inspiration for writing the screenplay and it's not hard to see how he was moved by it.

According to Torres, the film will receive a wider US release in September '05 and the DVD release will follow sometime after that.

A final note: despite complaints to the contrary I don't think that the film necessarily took a strong side in the conflict. The government troops definitely weren't portrayed well but the acts of the rebels were neither so glorious. As Torres told us, this film wasn't so much a political statement as "the real life memories of a child". Highly recommended.
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9/10
A great movie!
Julio Acosta22 January 2005
I watched it on the release week in El Salvador on December 26th 2004. It was the first country in which the movie was shown commercially. What can I say? ALMOST NO WORDS, but WONDERFUL.

I am thirty years old now and by that time I was a kid just like CHAVA. I personally had to flee from El Salvador's Army forced recruitment a couple of times, so the movie was a flashback for me. I cried remembering those nights when bullets were flying over my house.

WAR is a crime no matter what the objective is and specially if innocence is stolen from children.

The movie travels through every place in which children are forced to take a weapon in their innocent hands: Africa, Middle-East, Asia, Colombia, etc; or to every place in which children suffer the consequences of war.

For those who has not lived a war by themselves and enjoy watching the news about IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, ISRAEL, COLOMBIA it is time to think about what you can do in order to stop this human massacre in the name of "freedom" .
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10/10
Eye-opening...
bloodydorms7 April 2005
I just read all of your comments guys..it doesn't matter which side mistreated kids more..the fact is kids were recruited to fight...i come from Lebanon, a country that knew 15 years of civil war..and yes in my country too, kids fought side to side with militias..."Voces Innocentes" is for me a very sad movie..it tickles our state of mind in the sense that it reminds us that life isn't as pleasant anywhere else on earth..here El Salvador is shown torn by civil war, but elsewhere daily wars are still going on (Darfour in Ethiopia, Sida in Africa, poverty in India...) I received the movie from Mexico..It is a shame it was only shown here in Canada in Toronto's Film Festival..Movies like "Voces Innocentes" should be made known to the public...Instead of bombarding people with loads of commercial pointless movies, let them think for a change...
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9/10
a Truly Moving Picture
tollini29 September 2005
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2005. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."

The film is set in war-torn El Salvador in the early 1980s. The in-power, repressive, government's army is fighting the peasant guerrilla movement. The residents of a rural poor town have the misfortune to be between the rebels and the army. Their homes in the town become incredibly dangerous, and they are always on the cusp of becoming destitute refugees.

There is no doubt who the bad guys are. The army has dictatorial powers and forcibly recruits boys into the army once they turn 12 years old. They also rape girls, execute anyone they are suspicious of regardless of age and sex, and harass the Catholic Church and its priest.

This story is told via a poor family consisting of a Mother, a 11-year old son (Chava), and a younger brother and older sister. They live in squalor and danger. The main character is Chava, and we see the plight of all the residents through his eyes as he is able to move around the town more easily as a child. He is also a typical boy in an atypical environment. He is foolhardy, fun-loving, brave, adventurous, and curious. He is determined to live his 11-year old life as normal as possible no matter what. And he does a good job of it – for a while.

The Mother is heroic and courageous. She sacrifices everything for her children always trying to protect them and love them under the most gruesome circumstances.

It is hard not to be moved and sickened as you watch the story of the family and town unfold. The movie has a strong anti-United States bias because of the U.S. support for the army and the in-power regime.

The cinematography, art direction, and directing are excellent. And the boy, Chava, is amazingly believable and unaffected by the camera.

FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Crystal Heart winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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10/10
Powerful
aserikov3 February 2005
This movie was incredible in many ways, not the least of which was how it depicted life in a war in such a matter-of-fact manner. People leaving the theater where I saw it were in tears, many of them. The fact that the story is not fiction, and the fact that many just like it happen all over the world even today, made it so much more powerful. The best and the worst of the human being were depicted and it made me wonder how is it that one often brings out the other in us. I found myself sitting with clinched fists, full of rage and anger, anger at what I was seeing, anger at my own impotence as a spectator not being able to interfere... I wish viewing movies like this was mandatory for Congress before they ever authorize another war. This movie certainly stirred up a lot of emotion, but most of all it made me feel grateful for the childhood that I had.
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10/10
A film that you will remember for a long time.
travelman-119 September 2004
I just saw this film (World Premiere)the final day of the Toronto International Film Festival on September 18. It is in Spanish with English subtitles. The film, set in El Salvador during the years of civil war in the '80s, is told through the voice and eyes of 11-year old Chava. He lives with his mother, two brothers and a sister in a cardboard-house in a village, and at age 12 will be 'eligible' to be taken into the "ejercito" (army). The acting is superb-both principals and supporting cast- as is the directing and pacing. This film will leave you moved both to tears and to admiration for the human spirit. Though the two hours seemed to pass in minutes, thinking about this film will last for many years. I really felt I was present "on the set". Both the director(Luis Mandoki) and the screenplay writer(Oscar Torres, who was the boy in the film) were present for an emotional and uplifting Q&A. I could only give this film a 10 and hope it will be distributed in as many countries as possible.
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9/10
90% Accurate Regarding the Civil War
Alien_Latino5 February 2005
I also saw this movie and can testify that it's 90% accurate regarding how the civil war really was. But it's still a left-wing flick, it tilts that way. For instance, it showed us the brutality of the right-wing military but never once did it mentioned the atrocities of the communist guerrillas. I for one lived in El Salvador during the civil war and can say it was an ugly, nasty war. Most of the atrocities were committed by the communist left-wing guerrillas. They also committed massacres en-masse of civilians.

There still DOESN'T exist ONE flick about the Salvadoran civil war which showed BOTH sides of the atrocities. All of them are left-leaning.

Anyways, let's pardon this movie for neglecting to show us the atrocities of the other side (communist guerrillas) and let's focus on the cinematography.... it was excellent, excellent cinematography, I liked the attention to detail in this movie, the recruitments and the sudden barrages of gunfire.. that's exactly how this war was. Boys were forcefully drafted into the army and thrown into battle-infested areas as soon as they reached 12, sometimes younger (amazing that this movie neglected to depict the fact that the guerrillas were worse, they took kids at 9 years of age and gave them Ak-47's to attack military bases).

Anyways, I really enjoyed this "coming of age" movie in a war-torn country, at least it was accurate and not preposterous like James Wood's/Oliver Stone's 1985 "Salvador".
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10/10
Heartwrenching & closer to REALITY than most movies
sc_xikana29 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just finished watching "Voces Inocentes" with my family, we actually started watching the "movie" with 4 people and ended up with 3. The fourth person is my domestic partner, and this movie was so disturbing to him that he actually had to leave the room. He later explained to me that it brought back a lot of difficult and emotional memories. (He's from San Salvador, born and raised. (In the middle of the war.)I, on the other hand, am of Purepecha decent raised among the "protected" comforts and privileges of the "U.S. Ghettos," although I have visited El Salvador, have many Salvadorean acquaintances and friends, I cannot say I personally know, nor much less understand the harshness and impact of "war" so for me this "movie" was IMPACTING!, although not surprising.) At first, my partner and I were both upset and insulted at the fact that this movie was not filmed in El Salvador, nor played out by salvadorean actors, nor at least meant to sound and look Salvadorean, but we later concluded that we should at least appreciate the fact that SOMEONE took the time to TRY to inform the world about a crucial point in history from "another country" not just ONE country, best of all without making anything about war look too heroic. We also ended up assuming that perhaps because of its sensitive nature, the screenwriter might have had to undergo many barriers just to get this to be filmed, and maybe Altavista in Mexico was the only one willing to take the risk?? Although, "I" personally greatly appreciated the "movie" mainly because, it SHARES one person's individual experience and it also unknowingly makes an attempt to educate this society on the realities of war and its effects on those caught in the middle of it; my partner says he did not like the inaccuracies in the military's "recruiting" tactics because from his personal experience he saw the guerrilla, not the army, recruiting young boys from within the schools. On the other hand, my partner's brother and my best friend's father were both "recruited" into the army before the age of 15. (My question now is: Does "accuracy" even exist in personal experiences?") It is my personal belief that because we are all individuals, we all have VALID individual experiences; therefore, we have no right to undermine anyone's personal experience, instead we should try to analyze and learn from them and try to balance our information and personal way of thinking and seeing things by allowing ourselves to be exposed to and actually listening to all sides of every story.

I personally believe this "movie" is worth watching, at least for the "mere" purpose of diverse cultural and historical education, and for planting the seed of empathy and concern for those who suffer EVERY DAY because of war and savage human ignorance.

"Watch it with an open mind and a caring heart."
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The Truth and Lies in Voces Inocentes
Jose Vega26 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I partially liked this movie because it brings forth the cruelty the military showed during the war. However, I had family members that where in the military during the war, and I can assure you that not every soldier was as brutal as they portrayed them in the movie. This movie was truly one sided, and about the recruitment of 12 year old kids, that's a lie. However, the military would recruit kids from the ages of 15 and up. My cousin joined the army of El Salvador when he was 15, and was fighting in the war at the age of 16. The military would kill everyone who would openly oppose it. There is the killing of the Jesuit priest, and the murdered of Archbisop Romero, which shows that many military leaders where not prejudice when killing. We have as an example the massacre of el Mosote. Where the military went into a village, and destroyed it, and killed every one. But lets not leave the guerrilla as novel freedom fighters. In the movie, the guerrilla is portrait as the good guys. But in reality, they where as brutal as the military. The maid my aunt had was a guerrilla captive, and she said the guerrilla would take the women and make them do the cooking, washing, and would be raped for the sexual amusement of the guerrilla soldiers. In reality, the guerrilla would take young boys from the ages of 12, and make them fight in combat. You can say that from the 75,000 deaths in the war, not counting the unknown graves. Probably about 50 percent of the killing was done by the guerrilla.
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2/10
Thanks for portraying something of experienced when I was little
nnnccc21 November 2011
Unfortunately, I felt like I was watching a Mexican movie. The Mexican actors who contributed in this movie are very talented and I applaud to them with admiration but it didn't touch me because I could hear the Mexican accents on the actors. Really? how many salvadorean did you check that could do these roles? I think it could have been an enormous success if they were portrayed by Salvadoreans. We have talent in our country you just have to look, it is not hard to find. Anyway, Salvadorean don't say "Chava" we say "Chamba". Any salvadorean can tell you that. Another thing, the guerrilla was portrayed as the favorites, the "good" guys. They were very disruptive, they came into our classrooms and always interrupted our class. Always yelling and taking possession of school property. When the army tried to take them out from the school properties, we the students we were always in danger because of them. Many times we had to cover ourselves because they decided to have a fight with the army and hide in our school. How many times I had to stop going to school because they were burning the buses, of course, the bus company had to stop the bus circulation. They destroyed telephone boots anything that was on their way. Weakening the infrastructures they said, but the affected ones were the population. Yes, we were all in risk of being taken by the army but the guerrilla was also doing the same. I am sorry but this just brought me bad memories from my childhood. Good movie but it could have been better if you hadn't taken sides on one faction only.
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10/10
A movie that makes a difference
david_solomons7 October 2005
I saw the movie last night at a screening hosted by Artists for Amnesty International at the United Nations. It was an emotionally moving and raw account of a boy's life in a horrific place at a horrific time and hopefully brings spotlight to the plight of hundreds of thousands more children who are in a similar fate today in many parts of our world.

The movie makes you ask yourself how man can treat its own offspring in such a callous and cold manner. We were fortunate enough to have Oscar Orlando Torres, whose story is being told, present at the screening along with the director,Luis Mandoki, Larry Bender (Producer) and the rest of the cast. A Q/A session followed the screening and Oscar said something that I think is extremely important and casts light on another issue in this country, the power of teachers to influence students. He said that after he escaped El Salvador and settled in Los Angeles, he began to drift towards the gangs that were forming in the early 1980's in LA, many of whom were filled with teenagers who were from El Salvador and had lived through what Oscar had. Had it no been for a teacher who cared about him and was strong enough to literally pull Oscar from the life of a gang-member, take him to the track and field coach to get him involved in sports and also help him to explore his liking for poetry, his life may have been much different today.

One other issue that this movie leads you to explore is our inability to counsel and rehabilitate these children who have been through more as a child emotionally in their tattered youth than most go through in their lifetime. When governments are finally pressured into taking action and rescuing these children from their plight, we leave them to fix their battered bodies and souls by themselves.

I thought this movie told the story about a child and his family during a horrific time in El Salvador's history and brought to the forefront a several current global problems that many have chosen to ignore. I hope it will act as a catalyst to spawn further discussion and focus attention on our most precious gift in life, our children. I admire Oscar for his bravery and willingness to relive something most of us would sooner bury and forget and congratulate Luis Mandoki for doing it with such care and sensitivity.
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10/10
A great story and hight quality movie
layami24 February 2005
This is the best movie I have ever seen. The story of a 11-year-old boy and his family who live in El Salvador during the times of civil war. When you see this movie, you see war from a human perspective rather than political. The contrast of normal life, childhood innocence and the cruelty of war is what makes this movie so real. I highly recommend it.

This is the best movie I have ever seen. The story of a 11-year-old boy and his family who live in El Salvador during the times of civil war. When you see this movie, you see war from a human perspective rather than political. The contrast of normal life, childhood innocence and the cruelty of war is what makes this movie so real. I highly recommend it.
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10/10
A Shattering Experience!
bigdave1117 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I've just seen the European Premier of this movie at the Berlin Film Festival and found it to be one of the most emotionally draining films I have ever seen. I cannot recall another film in which the sheer terror of living under the constant threat of death has been so realistically depicted. The scenes where the family are cowering in terror as bullets fly through their house were brilliantly directed and I witnessed many of the audience cowering in their seats at these points. The scene at the end where the 2 of the 4 boys taken down to the river are brutally executed by the army had the audience crying out in horror as they could not believe the utter callousness they had just witnessed. I note that the film has been put forward for an Oscar nomination. I can think of no movie that deserves it more.
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10/10
Cinematic coup de grâce
brunolly-120 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
**CONTAINS SPOILERS** This Mexican film set in civil war El Salvador is easily one of the best films of 2004/2005. It shakes you to the core with its stunning realism, cinematography, and no-holds-barred portrayals of war atrocities perpetrated by the Salvadorean government militia. It's no surprise that this was a true story, according to the wrap-up at the end.

The movie that many scenes most brought to my mind was "Bloody Sunday," because both films really make you feel like you're right there in the middle of the action, as horrifying as that would be. But "Voces Inocentes" is perhaps even more shocking since the story is told through the eyes of the children who were caught in the line of fire. The scene in which four kids are lined up execution style near a dead body is one of the most harrowing ever committed to film. Luckily, there are more playful scenes to break up the cloud of fear that surrounds the characters; we really get a view of what their lives must have been like in all facets.

One reviewer here states that this film is imbalanced in its portrayal of the two fighting forces. I think this is appropriate, since this is told from one family's point of view, in a town where the government army (and US army forces as well) was much more present than the guerrillas. A depiction of atrocities on both sides would be welcome, but it wouldn't have suited this film.

"Voces Inocentes" was Mexico's submission for the foreign language film Oscar this year. It's an outrage in my mind that it wasn't nominated in favor of smarm (France's oozy "Les Choristes") and Hollywoodesque-style-over-substance (Spain's overblown "Mar Adentro"). Let's hope the Academy can get something right and hand the award to Germany's "Der Untergang," the only other submitted film I've seen that can rival this one.
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10/10
excellent movie! it was great!
machuche8526 February 2005
the movie was great... i consider it very realistic. the movie takes place in El Salvador.. but El Salvador is not the only country such wars have happened, Nicaragua for example has a very similar story. i liked it because i know a lot of people in my country found themselves in the same situation, and i've heard so many stories about what it was like during the civil war, i've read books about it, and it matches so perfectly with the movie it amazed me. this movie makes you see the other side of the story, the one that they don't show you in the news they sell you.. it's almost impossible to believe that kids find themselves in such situations at such a young age.
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2/10
A far-cry from what really happened in El Salvador
p-vent8724 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say, this movie along with Romero [1989] are guerrilla supporting films, always making the Salvadoran Army look bad and imposing the atrocities of the guerrilla on the Army's side... truly ridiculous! I'm from El Salvador and I know how things happened, the Army didn't take young boys forcing them to fight or kidnapping women, THAT NEVER HAPPENED! It was the guerrillas that took young children forcing them to fight, this is a good example:

http://tinyurl.com/3386coe

All of these movies based on the war in El Salvador are truly infuriating, they make the Guerrillas look like the heroes when in fact they were the animals behind the killings, kidnappings of rich people and poor people alike and the whole reason the war broke out! This movie along with Romero are pure and utter failure.

Other than the leftist propaganda the story is more or less interesting, but still quite bland as it revolves around a kid and his idiotic favoritism of the guerrillas. Overall, the movie is a terrible and inaccurate depiction of the war in El Salvador.
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8/10
some innocent lies...
lorenx_rivera26 December 2005
I'm from El Salvador, and I watched the movie with my mom, my dad and our maid. Three different points of view, my dad was an army doctor and our maid just lived in the middle of the war.

This movie present us several lies. The army didn't recruit children, the guerrilla did. A great nationalism helped the army from recruiting, young men presented themselves at the age of 18.

Another fact, soldiers and guerrilla people didn't go into schools, and priests wore jeans and t-shirt.

Tradition such as those balloons with fire aren't from El Salvador, and the accent or some words like "orale" are Mexican, Chava is not even a Salvadorian nickname, or kella...

The good things about it: Salvadorean women are like that, they fight until death if is possible for their children, they are strict and hardworking, the country houses are represented very realistic, the kids eating mango from the trees, and the houses near the river... the kids reading a poem from Alfredo Espino, a famous Salvadorian poet at the beginning of the movie and Radio Venceremos are one of the many real things that the movie showed.

What I admire is during the shootings, how the kids throw themselves to the floor and cover the walls with the beds, our maid told me that she did that and so my mom, even that my mom lived in the city and they only had a small offensive in 1989 (were the Jesuits were killed).

In my opinion, it was a good movie, I was touched specially by Ancha!! he was a great supporting character! it makes you forget about those small facts that weren't as true as the suffering left in many rural Salvadorian families.
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10/10
What a movie!
esitumoran9 August 2005
I just watched this 2-hours movie last night for an official preview show at EX Theater - Jakarta. Not only the storyline is great, but also the way director presents the whole story is excellent. A flash back start, showing some children who are going to be sentenced to death, but then exploring the story behind it, how they can be involved in that war. It presents not only the fight against the war but also the fight against poverty and against the using of children forces on war as well as against intervention of foreign forces.

I grew up in a much better world despite things like that also happen in other parts of my country. It is just hard for me to accept it as a true story yet somehow I can feel how terrible this world can be for a man to live in, particularly for those who have nothing. I never heard about this war but I know it can happen anywhere and anytime. Kids should not be involved in war in any way or form, neither as a victim nor as participant. Don't make the innocence as victims of our selfishness

This movie should be viewed by all people worldwide and is used as a tool to campaign against any kind of war. All wars can only bring disaster and suffering to the people, even mostly to the innocence people. There is always a way out for every problem as long as people remember that they should put others' concern first before themselves.

If only people listen to God's words, the heaven will be on earth...
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9/10
This movie is about an 11 year- old boy who has to make tough decisions or who is involved in the chaos that was the civil war in El Salvador between 1980-1992
shy_sophie7731 May 2005
I was born in the mid-1980's so I grew up during the Civil War in El Salvador, and had to partially move to Canada because of it. This movie to my understanding should be seen as a sharing of a story, and not truly as a movie. Movies are mostly based on an unreal event, and I do say mostly based, and so this is more of a sharing of information. It is a very accurate depiction of what happened in El Salvador, and to what most of the population lived at that time. I have been skimming over other people's opinions on the film, and i found some to be valid and some not to be valid. I did find the fact that the mother of Chava( the main character) was a model somewhat annoying but I got over that when she portrayed her role in a very good manner. Other than that I found this film to be a truly worthwhile experience. I have just gotten back from a trip to El Salvador, and most people in the theatres cry because if this film.
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4/10
Overdone
aharmas13 October 2005
A few years ago I had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful film called "Cinema Paradiso". It showed the portrayal of life from a child's point of view, with an ease of narrative, a glorious music score, one of the most amazing portrayals by a child actors ever, and a delicate balance that kept its pathos intact. Just recently, I saw the preview for this film and was looking forward to seeing. The preview was poetical and hinted at a topic that is rarely seen in American cinemas. The preview included mentions of it having won some international prizes, so when I finally caught the film, I couldn't help but say, "what a pity".

"Voces Inocentes" contains all the ingredients that should have been made the film an important and compelling movie. Instead, we're giving a production that benefits greatly from a very talented young actor but is derailed by the heavy handed direction of Mandoki, who seems to believe that everything must be thrown on the audiences' faces, with no regard for subtlety or any confidence on the work of his actors.

I couldn't help but wonder why...

The dialog between the children is so ridiculous, not innocent, but plain "cutesy" and always full of references to things that are banal and vulgar. Children are smarter than that.

Scenes run longer than they need, as if they need to shout the point across. A tear would suffice... many times I almost reached for a life jacket, and whereas I would like to recommend audiences to bring a box of Kleenex, I would instead advice to just bring a couple of earplugs.

We know bullets do kill... do we need to lose our ability to hear? Where did good all narrative sense go? Do all towns have a fool? There were no airplanes or helicopters in this war? Very convenient for that scene on the roofs...

I have to admit, I loved the scenes where there was no dialog. One of the most effective reminders of what good cinema should have occurs when the driver sees his "employee" for a second time and reminds him of the freedom of their relationship. Here was the spirit of childhood at his purest, without the padding, the manipulation, the overdone direction and screenplay. Someone should have told Mr. Mandoki to check what the Greeks did by not showing us everything. Respect the audience and their sensitivities. Allow them to connect to the universality of emotions and let compassion filter through. Have pity on the audience.

By the way, not all was lost. The production values are remarkable, and the make up was outstanding. I'm familiar with the song used in one of the few moving scenes in the film, "Casas de Carton". How dare he put some poetry in the middle of this mess? It only highlighted the flaws and proved that even though this might have a been a real story, the work was neither faithful to the spirit of the source, or unable to convey the anguish that lives in the hearts of those who are tortured physically and emotionally by class differences.

Finally, it's important to state that audiences who are hungry for specific themes should allow themselves to realize there is a big difference in what is served to them. A fine novel manages to bring forth a clear message, with style, cohesion, and the ability to connect to the soul of the reader. When Shakespeare wrote his plays, he never forgot the essence of the basis for his work. It remained real, throughout the artistry. "Voces Inocentes" is NOT a film, but a crude parody of what the video game version of a great idea could be.
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10/10
Role US played in ES
ifernand26 April 2005
This movie was incredible. Not only does it show the horrors of war, but it points to the role the US had in that war and in escalating it. It's disturbing to watch @ times (one scene with the children) but its what happened. This is going on today, in Iraq, in some countries in Africa, and this movie should open our eyes to the world around us, and show us that sometimes the US policies on other countries aren't always the best and have the best intention to them. It was a very good movie, and awesome soundtrack! I LOVED IT I hope the peace process is a continuous one, not only in my beloved country, but world wide.

This movie shows how children's innocence can be lost so quickly and how easily they are swayed and brain washed. We should never let children go through this.
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8/10
A Powerful, Troubling, Must-See Film
kyanberu9 October 2005
"Voces inocentes" is the powerful, tightly-directed--yet difficult-to-watch--story of a group of pre-teenage children caught in the madness of El Salvador's civil war. It is difficult to watch because it opens with a scene of the children being led to a killing field by army troops. As the movie bounces back and forth between happy scenes of children playing and the staccato bursts of machine gun fire, the audience senses that things will end badly.

This is clearly a political film, but director Luis Mandoki appears to have two conflicting messages that he wants to send. Through most of the movie, he is a cheerleader for the FMLN, the El Salvadoran rebel movement. He paints the guerrillas, especially Uncle Beto, in a sympathetic light and makes one of the songs of the movement "Casas del Cartones" (cardboard houses) into the movie's unofficial theme song. But in the climactic gun battle between soldiers and guerrillas, the action of twelve-year old hero Chava sends the message that the revolution too is madness. Perhaps it is a good thing that Mandoki leaves us to decide whether admiration for the guerrillas' ends is enough to balance our abhorrence of their means--for they too bring the innocent into the battle.

The biggest shortcoming of the film is the Hollywood ending. Without giving it away, let me just say it would have been more powerful to end the movie with the opening scene and let the audience draw its own conclusion as to what happens next. But Mandoki, who has directed box office successes such as "Message in a Bottle" and is able to hire the best available talent for filming, clearly wants "Voces Inocentes" to be a box office success. For that reason he has both added the Hollywood ending and cast the photogenic Carlos Padilla as Chava and Chilean beauty Leonor Varela as Chava's mother. These two look about as much like Central American peasants as J Lo and Jesse McCartney--although I must admit they played their parts convincingly.

While Mandoki should be commended for making a serious movie that shows the horrors of using children in warfare, this was a politically safe movie to make. The El Salvadoran civil war is over and we can now all agree that the government's forced enlistment of twelve-year olds was a bad thing. Mandoki could have made a more relevant political statement by making a similar film about a civil war that is going on today--the one in Colombia.
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