4 February 2010 | BobStage
Disturbing Realism; A Movie about Genocide
This is my first Uwe Boll film. I have only ever heard of his movies, which mostly flop and are derided by critics and audiences. Recently, I heard about this movie, and I saw familiar faces in the cast. I wondered if this might be the film that convinces audiences that Boll has ability to make a good movie. I watched the trailer and researched production information behind the project, and all of it seemed to point towards a great film in the making. Boll appeared a calm, reflecting instructor in front of the camera. He spoke about the issues of Darfur and expressed hope that the UN and NATO would finally get involved somehow. All this added to my eagerness to see the movie for myself.
I finally got the chance today. One night in my city, special screening in the cinema, with the assistance of STAND Canada. All the profits this movie makes on this tour will help fund STAND Canada and its attempts to raise awareness of Darfur's genocide.
Let me just say, the film is shocking. The film is ghastly in its realism, and many a time came where my hand flew up in horror and I struggled to continue watching the film. Boll does not tone down anything for the audiences, and gives us a vicious film that is simple in showing us what happens in Sudan.
In the midst of this are six Western journalists, being led by a small group of military units from UA. They take the journalists to a small village where they see for themselves what is happening here in this region of the world. Darfuri speak to them in hushed voices, restraining tears or speaking with quiet resentment towards these people who promise to show the world what is happening.
Much of the dialogue was improvised, and most of the people playing the villagers are themselves survivors of Darfur. The knowledge of this lends an eerie sense of realism to the film, and it is fascinating to see how the American and British actors prepared and developed their characters in the film.
Most prominent are Malin (Kristanna Loken) and Freddie (David O'Hara). Malin is moved by the plight of the people as she asks them questions with terrible answers. Freddie observes the village and the attitude with some hint of disgust at this endless cycle of violence, where both blacks and Arabs are guilty of killing each other. As a journalist, he is relentless, bombarding the captain who is supervising them with questions on why nothing is being done, though he is himself reluctant to put himself on the line for the people. This leads to a revelation in his character that leads to perhaps the strongest performance of the journalists. O'Hara's gravelly voice and his grim face dominate the scene where he is present, and his character develops well as he is exposed to this world.
Also present are Billy Zane, Matt Frewer, Edward Furlong, and Noah Danby. They all give their characters specific quirks and opinions on the topic of Darfur. Zane is emotionally moved by the answers he gets from the villagers. Furlong's character remains aloof and tries to escape the horror of it all emotionally. Danby stares at all around him with a determination to tell this story to the world, while Frewer's character is most concerned with the safety of his camera and taking pictures for his daughter.
What happens next is evident in the synopsis; a group of Janjaweed arrive with an intent to massacre the village. The journalists must decide whether they stay and attempt to protect the villagers with their status as foreigners, or flee to tell the world of what is going on. In two of the strongest performances in the movie, we are given the Captain (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) who is ultimately responsible for the safety of the journalists, and the leader of the Janjaweed band (Sammy Sheik) who has no need for subtlety when dealing with those who oppose him.
The film is brutal, violent, and graphic. The issues it tries to show are real and the film is very effective in giving us this scene of terror and carnage. It is certainly not for all to see; do not come in expecting to feel fine walking out.
Uwe Boll gives us a mighty film about the issue of Darfur, and relating to his previous filmography, I don't care if he made ten times as many flops as he has. All that is forgotten while watching this film, at least for me.