Eyes on Screen are now proud to acknowledge the Lincoln Film Society. The Society is a voluntarily run, not-for-profit organisation. Each year, they organise a programme of screenings, offering the very best of contemporary world cinema. This allows beautiful films with little or no exposure to take centre stage in Lincoln. For their 2016-17 season, Eyes on Screen will be reviewing each film screened. For more information on the Lincoln Film Society, please visit their website. For the latest news, you can also like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.
The following review is of A War (Denmark: 2015) – screening #7 of the Society’s 2016-17 season, shown on Friday 11th November 2016.
A War marks the second film in Danish director Tobias Lindholm’s ‘War Trilogy’. The first film, A Hijacking (2012), was shown at the Lincoln Film Society in its 2013-14 season. If you have seen the former, then you know tonally what to expect here. A War is an unflinching film about morality in the military and the ramifications of executive decisions.
This film is a comprehensive character drama which examines how the line between good and evil is not a distinct one, and when making choices in the heat of the moment, the fallout can be far-reaching. In this film, we find a Danish Company Commander stationed with his unit in an Afghan province, and when under immense fire, he makes a choice that affects the lives of families in the local area, his own family, and determines what he’ll bring back from the war with him.
There are some fantastic visual cues throughout that fully understand smart subtlety in storytelling, and the film understands exactly how to use a war setting. It’s not gung-ho; it doesn’t have many shootouts or scenes of gratuitous violence. It neither endorses nor condemns the imperialism of the military, the actions that military commanders can make, and the judicial system which reprimands them. It’s nice to see a war film like this that understands subtlety; a film that knows how to focus on character and put the audience in such a distinct position where they’re left entirely to judge whether an action is right or wrong. Of course, there is no straightforward answer; our protagonist is in both the right and the wrong, and that is truly compelling. This is complimented by the film having a great sense of authenticity, for four of the cast members in the unit are real Danish soldiers who have been stationed in Afghanistan.
Another interesting thing that A War does is show how war is not just fought on the frontline. Prior to the Commander’s decision, the film depicts the everyday lives of his wife and children, examining the different ways in which they’re affected by the father’s absence at war. We see the child rebel from school, the wife’s inability to maintain stability; a complete ignorance on what is happening in Afghanistan and the paranoia that incites.
Overall, A War is not to be missed if you’re looking for a war film with great substance. Though it’s not perfect, it is a very solid examination of morality and the realistic ramifications on both the physical body and the psyche.
Written by Luke Compton