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Armadillo
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Reviews & Ratings for
Armadillo More at IMDbPro »

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69 out of 87 people found the following review useful:

This is simply how it was - and is

9/10
Author: jacob-noergaard from Denmark
29 May 2010

I went to see this movie with my mother. We come from Slagelse, the city where Gardehusarregimentet is situated, ie. the place of the danish camp from which these soldiers came from.

Previously I have been stationed abroad with the military so I know a bit about the situation. I also know that my mother was worried all the time I was away, so I figured she would appreciate the movie. And she did.

The movie is at times fun, but most of the time it's simply depicting the life I got to know. Lots of boring days, waiting for something to happen. It shows the exact same kind of stereotypes I saw myself, the quiet one, the gung-ho type, the smart-ass etc. I quickly tuned into the whole scenario.

Armadillo might not be a masterpiece technically, but if you can stomach seeing it and NOT getting a lump in your throat, you're either without feelings or not alive. I remember the day I was going to ship off, the last conversation with my mom. And I was in my late 20s. Some of these boys are in their early 20s and far from mature.

We get to see how the "hot" situations are down there and that is fine. But I would have liked more about their everyday boring life. Sure, it might not make for the most interesting movie material, but you don't get the exact picture of just how boring it can be too.

Apart from that, a very well made movie.

Oh and the controversy of the soldiers killing (lethally) wounded Talebans? I would have done the same thing. And I am almost a pacifist. I might not agree with the fact that we're shipping off people there still, but I agree with how the people down there reacts.

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45 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

One of the most visceral documentaries about combat ever made

10/10
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
3 October 2010

What would make a young man who has just completed a harrowing and brutal six month tour of duty in Afghanistan decide to return for another stint? The answer to that question is puzzling, but it is made a bit clearer by Janus Metz' powerful documentary Armadillo, Gran Prix winner at the Critics Week competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Armadillo, like Restrepo, is named for the military base where the subjects are stationed. The film depicts the bravery and camaraderie and also the addictive high of several Danish soldiers, seemingly just out of their teens, that comes from their participation in the war in Afghanistan.

Edited by Per K. Kirkegaard, Metz follows the soldiers from their farewell party at home filled with naked strippers to their arrival at base camp, moments of relaxation, briefings by their superiors, times of boredom, and the combat that includes some stomach turning sequences. The camera seems to be ever present and it hardly seems like an understatement to say that the director and cinematographer Lars Skee's lives were as much at risk as the soldiers. The film also demonstrates the plight of the villagers who are afraid of Taliban retribution if they cooperate with coalition forces. Caught in the middle, the Afghan civilians suffer greatly, standing to lose their crops, their animals, and their lives either from NATO forces or from the Taliban.

What makes it even more distressing, as the film points out, the soldiers cannot distinguish between friend and foe. When one of the soldiers accidentally kills a young girl, all that can be offered is compensation while the Platoon commander tells the soldier that did the killing to shrug it off because these things happen every day. The camera-work is up close and personal and the horrors of war perhaps have never had such an immediate impact. We can see the look on a young soldier's face after he has just been shot and we see decapitated Taliban bodies being pulled from a ditch.

While the film takes no position either pro-war or anti-war, the inhumanity of war has never been shown more clearly and the soldiers boasting and laughter after obliterating a wounded enemy while high on adrenaline, caused considerable debate about appropriate military behavior back home in Denmark. Depending on your point of view the soldiers are either making a difference or perpetuating atrocities in an unwinnable war. What does become clear, however, is the bond formed by the men and their lack of questioning of their mission. Like adolescents on a drunken rampage, they are excited by the thrill of the moment. We owe Metz a debt of gratitude for showing us the mindless, sadistic, and dehumanizing behavior that war can induce. Armadillo stands as one of the most visceral and frightening documentaries about combat ever made.

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32 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Go see this!

9/10
Author: Goettschwan from France
23 August 2010

This is hands down the best war documentary I have ever seen. Most of it is beautifully filmed and put together, and it is showing how things are. I am a civilian, with a big interest in these things, and had my attention drawn to this movie because it seemed to get a thumbs up from people in the military. It sure shows controversial things, but balances them all the way, and show us both the civilian side with their troubles, and the danish soldiers side. Even at its controversial high point after a shootout it stays very neutral, and as such is a masterpiece of showing people the daily life of a soldier. My only gripe is that I had wished it a little longer, with more scenes that show the boredom that such a place must surely be, when nothing is happening.

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33 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Armadillo is a relevant movie like no others!

9/10
Author: Mika Dahl Hansen from Odense, Denmark
27 May 2010

The war documentary Armadillo shows both the fragile and the hard side of the Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, and it shows how the Danish soldiers develop black humor in order to get a distance from the serious war. It is furthermore realistic and objective and it will certainly start an important social debate. It is striking how much this war looks like the Vietnam war. The movie also debates what a war hero is. Where shall we draw the line? Are you a hero if you shoot some Talebans? Apparently yes. It also shows that this war is very hard to the civilians, and that they are trapped between two sides. If they help the "intruders" aka the USA, Denmark and so on then Taleban will come after them, but if they help Taleban, then the "intruders" will come after them. Though the film is serious it also contains "epic" boyish fun so to speak, and that gives an extra facet to the movie. Armadillo is an utmost relevant movie, and therefore it is a must-see!

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33 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

beautiful and true; non-biased movie about war

8/10
Author: lovepade from Copenhagen, Denmark
29 May 2010

This is a documentary. As such it tries to show the reality of camp armadillo in the Afghan Helmand province. Armadillo is the most forward of the allied camps, and as such the one with the most fighting, and the least civilian work. Taleban territory is 800 meter from the camp - and peace is not something that the locals dare hope for.

Some people seam to think this movie is an argument against the war. I beg to differ. This movie simply shows us what war sometimes is: Young men, without a clue about why, leaving their tearladen family to fight in a country far away. AT great personal cost. Sometimes the greatest. Maybe - something good will come out of it, even though it can seem hopeless.

The movie shows us the different coping strategies the soldiers uses. The sense of brotherhood, the porn, the adrenalin, the dark sarcastic humor. It shows us how the soldiers doesn't always have time to ask before shooting. And it shows us how different the soldiers are.

It's a sober movie. Filmed at the front line, with images never before seen from the actual war in Afgahnistan. Beautiful camera work, sublime editing makes this a very good documentary.

EDIT: What I miss - and why I don't give it a 10: I am actually a bit surprised by what the soldiers do not say. In these circumstances I would expect a much more racist tone/humor. But there is hardly any of that. The few soldiers I have met in real life, have all had very complicated/nuanced/many faceted feelings towards the local culture: Admiration and disgust at the same time. I get the feeling that this movie have actually edited the worst lingo out of the movie. I think it would serve everyone good to know, that if a returned soldiers refer to someone as a camel-f***er - this is not always because that same soldier cant feel a deep respect for said camel-******* culture, customs, language and persona.

Also: A soldier 'snitches', and talks to his relatives back home, about a certain incident. Since everybody is talking about brotherhood in this movie, I would suspect that having a "snitch" in the brotherhood, has led to some interesting frustrations, misgivings and suspicions. This is not shown, which is disappointing.

But still: fantastic camera-work, and very sober war movie. 8/10

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26 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Welcome to 'Nam

10/10
Author: Grann-Bach (Grann-Bach@jubii.dk) from Denmark
28 May 2010

This deserves the award it won at Cannes. Our theater is only showing this for a few days, it seems, although they have now doubled the amount of showings. It was packed when I went. Maybe this will aid in the situation and approach finally being reevaluated, because it clearly is hopeless right now; if you weren't certain, this will cement it for you. This has some of the best photography I've ever witnessed, and not only for a documentary. I find it hard to believe that the cameramen were always entirely safe during this. This Danish piece of non-fiction depicts six months at the Armadillo base in the Helmand province. We see the young men in various moods, a handful of them expected, others not. They entertain themselves and each other, they get bored, they express a desire to help in the war... and reveal their excitement at the idea of combat. Dark humor and porn are used to deal with what they go through. This is funny at times, but it also hits you quite hard. It is a commentary on, among other things, the human psyche. The choice of form could not be more perfect; this is immensely objective, and the facts speak for themselves. No one is painted as a monster. It would appear that, when someone expressed their emotions and it was captured, it was put in the film. The editing is spot-on. This has an always well-composed, effective and fitting score. They use lingo occasionally, and each time a new term is said, we get an explanation of it. Every word spoken that is not in Danish is either subtitled or translated by an interpreter. I think it takes a bit of empathy and maturity to understand this. There is a lot of violence and disturbing content, as well as a little strong language, nudity and sexuality in this. I recommend this to everyone old enough for it. 10/10

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Tense and daring

9/10
Author: jon-779-324856 from Germany
30 June 2010

Armadillo is a tour de force, reclaiming the pictures of war from the aseptic news rooms back to real fear, confusion and adrenaline that soldiers have to endure in a combat situation. The movie is captivating and demanding and certainly no easy experience for its audience. Still, it is worth it. Modern warfare and its embedded journalism has led to a distorted view of the public of what happens in war. Honestly, I thought such a frank documentation could only come from Europe. But now I heard from the American project "Restrepo". Really looking forward to this movie that sounds like a brother-in-arms to "Armadillo." There cannot be enough movies showing the cruelty and futility of war.

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20 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A "masterpiece" war documentary by Janus Metz Pedersen.

10/10
Author: Irini from Athens, Greece
22 September 2010

This documentary about war in Afghanistan is simply a "masterpiece" by Janus Metz Pedersen. It covers a 6-month period of the lives of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, showing us the daily life of a soldier in this war. It also shows the side of the local civilian people of Afghanistan, the way their lives are spoiled by this war and mostly by the way that the foreign powers are acting there. Local people are desperate by a war that not only offers nothing to them but also kills their families and makes them suffer even more.

Unique photography. Great camera handling. Non-biased and truthful.

90 minutes full of reality and sentiment at the same time.

DON'T MISS IT.

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A good film to show someone with little military knowledge

8/10
Author: D. B. from Nebraska, United States
10 June 2011

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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20 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Best military documentary in a long time

10/10
Author: Frank Skov from Aalborg, Denmark
2 June 2010

As a former soldier, I was biased before seeing this movie. It is seldom that a documentary captures the reality soldiers goes through. Armadillo captured it, not perfectly because it is only a movie, but a close as any documentaries I have seen.

It follows the Danish Soldiers stationed in Forward Operating Base (FOB) "Armadillo" (now named Budwan), which lies in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. A province known for its Taliban presence and its high yield of opium. We follow the young soldiers as they go through their 6 months period, through their high and lows.

It is a movie for both proponent and opponents of the presents of international troops in Afghanistan.

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