At film festivals, there are always a few war documentaries thrown into the mix. Normally they are either very anti-war, or very pro-solider. One of the reasons I really loved this film is that it wasn’t forcefully pushing an opinion either way – although there were definitely moments where it showed war in a very negative and horrible light, at other times, it really showcased the role of a soldier is being a vital role in the fight against terrorism. Although the film-maker would have definitely have had a bias one way or the other, they definitely treated the subject with a huge amount of respect, and left the audience with a lot of questions that they need to answer on their own.
Named for a base in Afghanistan, Armadillo follows a troop of Danish soldiers serving as part of the international forces fighting against the Taliban. Covering a sixth month period, the film follows a group of young soldiers as they leave their families and girlfriends at home, and head to the war zone. They all start off as very immature and ignorant youngsters, but soon discover the harsh realities, sheer boredom, and pain of war, and are forced to “grow up” as they become a real team.
This documentary is extremely well crafted – and it’s obvious that the film-makers put their own lives on the line to make this film happen. There is no voice over – just observational footage, and interviews with the soldiers. It seems silly to even say it – but this documentary is extremely realistic (as yes, I know all documentaries should be realistic given their very nature) – the soldiers workout, they phone call their parents back home, watch porn, drink beer, and then they go out to be shot at and bombed. The conversations that they soldiers have with the locals are painful to watch – just regular Afghans caught between overseas invaders, and their own would-be tyrants, where they are constantly loosing their animals, their crops, and their lives. It’s horrible to see the army bombing homes simply because they can’t tell one Afghan farmer from a Afghan Taliban.
This film is extremely powerful, and very well put together. The poor editor would have had to work with hundreds of thousands of hours of footage, and they have done an amazing job. This is one slickly, powerfully cut together documentary. If you want to have an insight into the Afghanistan war, or even just to see what it’s really like for a solider in the Green Zone, then this is a must see film. It’s certainly not easy going – and there are some scenes that are incredibly hard to watch – but it’s real, and it’s a story that deserves to be told. I cannot recommend this amazing documentary highly enough…