Film Review: Kajaki (2014) - All stuff

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Film Review: Kajaki (2014)

Copyright: Alchemy Releasing
To a degree, it is safe to expect a significant level of brutality from a war film. Last year, Fury managed to shock me to the core, even though I thought I was desensitized to the Hollywood-type depiction of modern-day combat, especially for those films that are set in the WW2.

Kajaki is also a brutal film, but not in the sense that it presents the physical suffering of its characters (even though there is plenty of that as well), but because it shows the terrifying virtual environment where minds and bodies can exist in a parallel dimension of pure horror, but which is determined not by physical laws, but by a decision of some individual or a group of individuals which declared that a war is worth fighting for.

In the case of Kajaki movie, that imaginary environment is a valley in Afghanistan, where a detachment of soldiers ends up getting bogged down not by enemy fire, but by forgotten cluster of landmines. Here, their options are fenced in by the physical reality of the mines and the responsibility they feel for each other. In this setup, located on a space smaller than a surface of a larger house, completely in the open, the characters suffer, risk life and limb and make choices under the Afghan sun.

The film�s director Paul Katis explores the spaces of both the landscape and the minds of those who linger on in this deadly afternoon, some because they do not have legs to walk away on, others because they do not have the heart to leave the wounded behind. Kajaki narrative is so masochistically to its characters (even though it is based on actual events and depicts them truthfully) that the audience has to be appalled to some extent. Here, there are no bad guys getting killed and no civilians getting saved like in the Lone Survivor, another true tale from the same land. Almost like a pseudo-religious experience of martyrdom, the film shows what war can mean when dying is pointless (from a geopolitical point of view) and being a hero makes you one of the victims in a split second.

Kajaki is a brutal piece about war and we need films like these badly. It shows us what happens when reality does not follow a flag-waving narrative about the glories of combat and simply serves meaningless misery upon all those who happen to be in a wrong place.

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