Monday, November 26, 2012

"The 9th Company"

With about the same interest I might accord a detective procedural on TV, I watched "The 9th Company" last night. The Russian/Ukrainian/Finnish movie tells the tale of young recruits sent in 1988 first to basic training and later to Afghanistan in Russia's ill-fated attempt to tame the country that no interloper has ever tamed. The movie was a box-office hit in Russia.

The photography was mediocre, the music was strangely off-topic, and the characters were drawn with about the same care as a TV detective procedural might offer... interesting, but not compelling. That the story was roughly based on true events surrounding "Hill 3234" may have added to impact among the Russians who lost family members to yet another war, but since "another war" is the province of any large and powerful country, the addition meant little. Almost everyone got slaughtered and forgotten in the end ... just as people are in any "another war."

I watched to the end with a kind of lazy sadness. The kids are always the same, irrespective of language. The situations are always the same, irrespective of country. The unseen power brokers are always the same -- wanting something that they are willing to shed others' blood for. The most compelling part of the movie came when an intelligence officer addressed the young recruits, informing them of customs of the country ... as part of their pep-talk, get-informed, wave-the-flag, goose-the-testosterone training. In the midst of his mostly-hooray presentation, the officer said (approximately) with a seriousness that belied the other enthusiastic segments of his talk, "No one ever won a war against Afghanistan. Ever!"

It was all achingly familiar, all achingly painful, all achingly and incredibly stupid. The tale, like the soldiers who peopled it, would be forgotten ... and I could feel the forgetting begin even as I watched the movie.

Where was there ever a war that was adequately remembered ... and by "adequately" I mean remembered in such a way that the lessons might in some way be 'learned.' The answer, of course, is never, and shedding tears of outrage, either literally or figuratively, is a fool's errand. Those who admire or espouse wars never imagine that it is their son or their daughter who screams in fiery agony. No ... this war is a "just war" and the people who fight them are dubbed "heroes" because those who created such vile and insane situations need some solace when they look in a mirror that might otherwise reflect too much too accurately. Calling these policy-makers scumbags hardly scratches the surface.

I sat and watched the movie to the end, feeling a bit like someone with a broken arm: It ached, but it could be forgotten from time to time as time passed and the wound, like the wars, passed.

It was very, very sad ... I do not like losing my children.

But also ... it was life.

1 comment:

  1. thats how i feel and i am also sick of this human life