A scene from Armadillo

“The notion that Danes are in Afghanistan on
a peacekeeping mission… is clearly no
longer tenable.”
Armadillo airs Tuesday, August 30, 2011 on POV.

The critics are buzzing about Armadillo, the Danish war documentary that sparked controversy about the war in Afghanistan in its home country.

In 2009, Janus Metz and cameraman Lars Skree accompanied a platoon of Danish soldiers to Armadillo, a combat operations base in southern Afghanistan. For six months, often while under fire, they captured the lives of the young soldiers fighting the Taliban in a hostile and confusing environment, where official rhetoric about helping civilians too often met the unforgiving reality of being a foreign occupier. Winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prix at Cannes, Armadillo is one of the most dramatic and candid accounts of combat to come out of Afghanistan.

Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir says, “it’s a brilliant work of cinema, a nonfiction film as intense and visceral as any drama, and an emotional and moral experience that feels horrifying and exhilarating at almost the same moment.”

Nicolas Rapold of the Wall Street Journal says, “War documentaries, like the wars they depict, often run up against the exhaustion of the American public. With Armadillo, Danish filmmaker Janus Metz puts a bracing spotlight on pumped-up army youngbloods in Afghanistan, as part of a concerted effort to combat the same indifference within his own country.”

“The combination of immediacy and intimacy in Armadillo is exceedingly rare. Metz captures and weaves together striking images with great craft,” says Shawn Levy of The Oregonian.

Geoffrey Macnab of The Guardian UK comments, “The notion that the Danes are in Afghanistan on a peacekeeping mission and spend their days building schools and ‘giving out candy to kids’ is clearly no longer tenable.”

“It’s a sickening but stunning portrait of combat that looks past notions of bravery or brutality, guilt or innocence, to bear witness to a thoroughly besieged humanity,” says Eric Hynes of Time Out New York.

Armadillo will have its broadcast premiere on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, at 10 PM on PBS. (Check local listings.)

  • karen

    Hi, 

    This is a film I have been waiting to see. Thanks4airing it. I served with the armed forces some years back and,at one time, when undergoing “battle” training, I was asked “what I would do under certain circumstances”. I gave a very unpopular answer which was affirmed by those who had “lived” through the event in question.  I am female.  This film is “real”, it depicts “real life” situations in “real life” places and, under real life circumstances.  War is messy, people get killed; good people, bad people, innocent and not-so-innocent people.  That is what war is.  Guerrilla warfare is the worst kind.  You get surprised, you get ambushed, you get seemingly benign things thrown in your path that will, can and do, kill you.  This film is the face of guerilla war.  I watched with keen interest the responses from the various platoon members.  I was most struck by the face and eyes of the youngest member.  When you sign on the dotted line, you have committed yourself to the unknown.  When you are asked to kill someone, it comes down to what is the right thing to do at the time – self preservation or your death.  I have no problem with the film and what is being done by these men.  These men show the non-soldier, what it is they do everyday. Perhaps, for those who can remove themselves from their emotions and view the film as “detached” from those emotions as possible, they will see that these soldiers/men, when patrolling, live in chaos, separated only by “action/reaction”, tempered sometimes by third party information.This is a great film which represents the “real” world of guerilla warfare and, if you look close enough, you will find that war affects us all in one way or another.  I  will recommend it to all my friends.Thanks again for airing it.Karen  

  • EW

    Spectacular footage and storytelling. 

  • Breadwinner45799

    Outstanding ! ! ! ….. from Seattle

  • Cmanetti

    I started to watch the documentary but after a few minutes I gave up !   The  white subtitles on  sometimes white background were impossible to read and very irritating. Please, next time have the subtitles in yellow and also larger!

  • K10K7

    I found it interesting reading some of the original articles and reviews about the reaction in Denmark to this film and was a little surprised at their surprise as to the realities of what is going on.

    I too have recommended this film to my friends and not for any political message. I also wasn’t shocked by the closing comments, however, I did not see his viewpoint when watching the film. I saw soldiers sent into tough situations and handle themselves  very well.