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.)