Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Armadillo" airs on PBS POV (slightly condensed); a Danish "Restrepo"

PBS POV (Point of View) is offering (for about a month) free viewing of the (slightly condensed) docudrama “Armadillo”, in theatrical release from Koch Lorber, from Danish director Janus Metz Pedersen and cameraman Lars Skree (and Danish production company Fridthjof), who spend six months of 2009 in Afghanistan (in the Helmand area) patrolling with a Danish ISAF (International coalition force) troops.

The film follows the spirit of “Hurt Locker” and “Restrepo”.   It’s photographed in sepia tones, very subdued colors that almost approach black and white.

The men seem a little gentler than American troops, and there is little issue with unit cohesion.  The issue of gay troops is not addressed but surely gay troops were present.  Quarters are about as intimate and primitive as in an American unit, contradicting claims by some American conservatives that European units are second rate and unprepared.

As the unit goes out on more dangerous patrols, the ambiguities of war take over.  Some children and natives die, possibly of friendly fire.  A few soldiers are gravely wounded, one losing both legs.  Finally, some of the men in the unit are accused of gratuitous fire on the enemy.  There is some discussion toward the end of the film as to whether it can be kept under wraps.  The film leaves it ambiguous.  The men get a lukewarm reception home on the streets of Copenhagen, home of Hans Christian Andersen. 

The official site is here. The POV version of the film runs about 80 minutes; the theatrical version apparently runs 105 according to imdb.  The film is in Danish with subtitles.

I'm not sure when WETA in Washington airs this film. In many cities, it premiered Aug. 30.

Wikipedia attribution link for Copehagen picture.  I visited in 1972 and got unusually drunk from one ale at the park. 

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