In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman... See full summary »
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In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman Lars Skree spent six months following the lives of young soldiers situated less than a kilometer away from Taliban positions. The outcome of their work is a gripping and highly authentic war drama that was justly awarded the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at this year's Cannes film festival. But it also provoked furious debate in Denmark concerning the controversial behavior of certain Danish soldiers during a shootout with Taliban fighters. The filmmakers repeatedly risked their lives shooting this tense, brilliantly edited, and visually sophisticated probe into the psychology of young men in the midst of a senseless war whose victims are primarily local villagers. Yet more disturbing than scenes in which Taliban bullets whiz past their cameras is the footage of the young soldiers as each... Written by
Karlovy Vary Int'l Film Festival
A good film to show someone with little military knowledge
Reading reviews of this film, I noticed a lot of extreme praise, lauding this documentary as being perhaps, the "best war documentary ever made". With the praise so high, it is tempting therefore to look for the film to be the most dramatic, or visually compelling sight ever.
Looking at the film that way, it is quite possible that you will be disappointed. This is not because the film is bad, far from it, but rather, is because the film has distinct and particular strengths.
One of those strengths is paradoxically, the reasonably low casualty rate of of the protagonist unit, and reasonably low level of "blood and guts." Holding down the level of gore is very important because a lot of people watching war documentaries become too shocked and revolted to be able to draw much meaning from the film. This documentary shows enough for someone with little experience in such matters to be able to "get it" without being so shocked that the horror overwhelms everything else.
The second strength of this film is in its being in the right places at the right time to capture a good sense of events. In contrast to some reviewers, I cannot say that the photography is absolutely the best; an experienced war photographer might be able to film things better in combat, but the camera is at least, generally in the right place, and the confusion of war becomes something understandable to the audience.
The third big strength of this film is in capturing the way that morality for someone fighting a war is often experienced differently than a person who is not in that situation would expect. This is the outstanding feature of this documentary, and I am aware of no other that comes close to explaining this situation to a civilian or person unfamiliar with conflict.
The fourth strength of this documentary is in its capture of the boredom and frustrations of military service.
The upshot of all this is that "Armadillo" is a very informative film, and one that does a great deal to bridge the gap between civilians and the military. For all those guys who have been in the military, and who are frustrated by the fact that other people just don't "get it", this could be very useful.
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