"The Betrayed" is a feature length documentary on the Russian Invasion of Chechnya. It is almost completely depressing, exceptionally violent, deeply cynical and at the same time, almost gut bustingly funny. Well, its funny if you have a very, very, very, ugly dark viewpoint on the human race.
"The Betrayed" is, also, easily the best war movie ever made and for my tastes also the best documentary. While these are very serious claims, I do not make them lightly. I have watched my VHS tape of this film upwardds of 30 times, and still find the film to be as strong as the first time I saw it.
If you like war movies, in "The Betrayed" there is lots of real war, shot realistically, and excitingly, and expansively. The film makes war look exactly like the mad nightmare that it actually is, because it is well shot and there is nothing faked in it.
The film is of course a documentary and it examines with horrible honesty the motivations of everyone involved in the madness and shows how each and every faction in the conflict interacts with all the others, with, for the most part, the best intentions. Lastly, it shows how the whole immense nightmare is based on lies, and on the fact that all of the factions and all of the individuals are, one way and another, "The Betrayed."
One example from a film studded with perfect street interviews: An old lady hysterically tells that the Russian infantry are throwing hand grenades into cellars crowded with women and children. She is not acting. It is, or was, happening, just up the street. She is insane, in a nightmare. She finishes up... "and THEY ARE ALL DRUNK!" somehow, she seems to find this more shocking than mass murder. She too is betrayed, somehow; she thought that genocide wouldn't just be mass murder, by drunks. But it is, and, a month or so before the film was shot, she had a normal life, in a normal apartment, and then the war came.
"The Betrayed" is an astonishing assault on every preconception that a person can have. It should be compulsory viewing and it will reward any serious viewer with endless insights over repeated viewings. Simply, movies may equal, but they will never better this one.
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