Friday, May 6, 2011

Documentary Review - "Hidden Battles"

“Hidden Battles”, A film by Victoria Mills, VSM Productions
Hidden Battles is a feature-length dramatic and deeply personal documentary about the psychological impact of killing on the lives of five soldiers. Representing a cross section of nationalities, gender, class and race, the soldiers tell of their combat experiences and their feelings about the central act of war – killing another person. The film is consciously apolitical, and does a good job of drilling down to the core challenges of building a balanced life and coming to terms with oneself after the fighting has ceased.  The five soldiers are Zachariah, leader of the Al Aqsq Martyres Brigade, a Palestinian who has killed an Israeli, Aaron, a former US Marine who was deployed to Somalia in 1994 as a scout/sniper, Esmeralda, a fighter in the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua thirty plus years ago, Saar, a Special Forces officer in the Israeli Army and George, an African American Vietnam Veteran. With three of the five “voices” subtitled and multiple cutting back and forth, Hidden Battles still manages to sustain emotional impact as the soldiers talk at length about their struggles to accept that having killed is now a fact of their lives. The film explores how they process that fact, often minimizing or deadening their feelings yet occasionally being overwhelmed by them. Although Hidden Battles does not involve any veterans from OIF/OEF, it is a good exploration into the complexity of emotional struggle with what it means to kills in all of its complexity. It offers insight into internal conflicts of veterans once they have left the battlefield. Appropriate for mental health care providers, service members and military family members 18 years and up.

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