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Essential Killing (2010)

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An Afghan POW attempts his escape.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zach Cohen ...
American Contractor 1
Iftach Ophir ...
American Contractor 2
Helicopter Pilot 1
Helicopter Pilot 2
Interrogation Officer (as David Price)
Tracy Spencer Shipp ...
Young Soldier in Suv
Mark Gasperich ...
Head of Pursuit Team
Phillip Goss ...
Military Doctor
Klaudia Kaca ...
Woman on a Bicycle
Dariusz Juzyszyn ...
Raymond Josey ...
American Soldier
Robert Mazurkiewicz ...
Janusz Wojtarowicz ...
Margaret's Husband


A Taliban member who lives in Afghanistan is taken captive by the Americans after killing an American soldier and two contractors. He is transferred to Europe for interrogation but manages to escape from his captors and becomes an escaped convict on a continent he does not know. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Run to live... kill to survive (UK)


Thriller | War


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Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

22 October 2010 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Essence  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


€3,167,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


There is essentially no dialog in this movie, unless you count commanders shouting perfunctory orders in the field. All other speaking is muffled, squelched by louder noises, or otherwise part of indistinct background activities. See more »


After Mohammed falls in the water he climbs out of the lake. However, in the following scene with the dog he seems dry. See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Venice Film Festival 2010 (2010) See more »


Y Dopatrzenia
Music written by Rafal Modlinski, Karol Ludew, Piotr Leniewicz and Adam Adamczyk and words by Adam Adamczyk
Performed by Moja Adrenalina
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Essential watching?
3 November 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Vincent Gallo stars as a confused, lonesome Taliban fighter in this survival film, perhaps a spiritual successor to the old Nils Gaup film 'The Pathfinder' (not the remake). An unnamed fighter is captured by Americans, extradited to a base inn a Russian-speaking country, then escapes, and spends the most part of the film chased by Americans in helicopters or patrols of dogs. It's refreshing to see Americans portrayed through the eyes of a Taliban fighter; with their superior technology and almost infantile attitudes they seem quite like aliens. The fighter is ever troubled by the killing he has to do in order to survive, as he struggles through a bleak wintery landscape (shot in Norway and Poland), searching for food, clothes and shelter. This is a film about the human condition rather than a political one, in some respects it has a classic chase plot but with minimal dialogue a dream-like feel. The strangeness of it all made me intrigued; here is a Taliban fighter chased by rather alien Americans surrounded by hapless Russian-speaking farmers or foresters. This slightly unreal quality is the film's strength, also parallel to the man's sand-coloured 'dream-visions' of his homeland and imagery of a woman (whose face we never see) and images of his family.

The cinematography and use of colour contrasted against the pale winter landscape is stunning. The plot isn't entirely believable, and takes you through some pretty unlikely twists and turns, but nevertheless this is more existentialist than realist, and Vincent Gallo pulls off the non-speaking part with a humbling and convincing performance.

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As offensive as the saying 'Polish concentration camps' sclerozo
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