Ever since Netflix raised their monthly rate from $8.65 to $10.00 I have been waiting to see if an increase in price was going to equal an increase in better movies, and this month I can say that is true.
A War is is a Danish War Drama (with superb English Subtitles) that depicts a Danish Army Company deployed in Helmand, Province Afghanistan. The movie is split between showing both the hardships on the battlefield and the homefront, as the story moves from the struggles of Company Commander Claus Pedersen fighting the Taliban to Commander Pedersen’s wife back in Copenhagen trying to manage 3 children and a household as a single parent.
At first, I was not sure this was going to be my type of War Movie simply because of the back and forth it shows between Commander Pedersen and his wife, but I was pleasantly surprised as this “drama” actually adds to the telling of the story as a whole, which is basically the STRESS Soldiers endure when having to both do their job on the Battlefield and be concerned about their families back home.
The crux of the storyline revolves around the hardships and challenges of fighting a Counter-Insurgency military campaign against a brutal and smart guerilla enemy. The Commander is faced with extremely hard decisions during the course of the movie, decisions he knows the Taliban is placing on him as a Guerilla Force to see if he will crack. One of these decisions is how he properly protects the friendly civilian population against the Taliban, while weeding out the small percentage that aids and abets the Taliban.
The overall quality of the movie really catches your eye right away. The cinematography is fantastic, and although I know this was not filmed in Afghanistan, they sure make it look like it! This was definitely not a low-budget movie, as the scenery, military uniforms, weapons and overall tactical movement of the troops is spot on.
For the Civilian Operator interested in learning about the history of Counter-Insurgency Warfare and Guerilla Warfare tactics, particularly those used by the Taliban, this is a good movie to do that. All the subtleties of COIN are here; the balancing of hard-hitting military operations while maintaining a good working relationship with the local populace; The struggle to protect civilians when your hands are tied militarily in what you can do based purely on being a humanitarian. The dichotomy is fascinating to see, because you quickly understand how the Guerilla Warfare tactics of the Taliban, which were used to drive the Soviet Army out (and before that the British), are still today just as effective in harassing a modern, technologically superior military force like that of NATO.
This flick teeters on being more of a War DRAMA than just a simple, run-of-the-mill war movie simply because the Overall REALISM is what really draws you into the story. What firefights and action there are totally supports the flow of the story and does not seem too gratuitous or gory for the sake of being gory.
If you are looking for a shoot em’ up, type War Movie, this one is not for you! But, if you are looking for Well-Made, Well Acted, Thoughtfully Made Military War Drama that explores ALL sides of the True COST of Fighting a War, then this one is for you!
In closing, I would also like to say this: So many times people are so quick to “Thank A Veteran” for their service, but the same time people are also just as quick to judge a Veteran for a decision that he had to make under fire, in WARTIME that may have resulted in “civilian” deaths. We ask a lot of these men, and one of the things we ask is for them to make difficult, life changing decisions with imperfect information in mere seconds. The average civilian has no ideal what this is like, they only know some “innocent civilians” in a third world country that we are trying to liberate are dead so this soldier must be punished. That is Hypocritical bullshit and it is WRONG on every level. Should soldiers be held to the legal standard as set by the Geneva convention in War? Absolutely, but when these standards are impractical and unrealistic and are only there to serve a political end I think they should be done away with.
I think this excerpt of Jack Nicholson’s speech from the movie A Few Good Men sums up my feelings:
“I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.
I would rather that you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand the post. Either way, I don’t give a DAMN what you think you’re entitled to!”
Run Time: 1 Hour 55 Minutes, Danish and Pashto Language with English Subtitles.
Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!