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After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo's remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens-and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.
How do you review a movie like "Last Men in Aleppo?" It's about as opposite from entertaining as you're likely to get, yet it should be watched by everybody. It's incredibly urgent, yet it's so lacking in hope that it seems naive to think it will inspire any kind of action or change. It's basically an obituary for a country that hasn't completely died yet, but is certainly dying. And doing so while the world stands back and watches.
Last year, the film that won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject was about a member of the White Helmets, a volunteer emergency response group in Syria. He enjoyed 15 minutes of fame when footage of him pulling a living baby from rubble circulated the Internet. That man is now the focus of "Last Men in Aleppo," a film that chronicles his life and eventual death as a member of the White Helmets. Whereas "The White Helmets," in that image of a rescued baby, offered some ounce of hope to cling to, "Last Men in Aleppo" offers nothing but despair. It's the kind of movie that makes it difficult to go about your daily life. The mundane minutiae of being a privileged American -- my biggest annoyance right now is that the motion-sensor light on my garage needs to be replaced -- make me almost embarrassed to enjoy a life of extreme luxury compared to the living conditions of these poor poor people in Syria. That the developed world stood back and watched this conflict happen with a shrug of its collective shoulders will go down in history as one of its most shameful moments.
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