Photojournalist Louie Palu has made a film that holds nothing back in showing the shock and horror of combat in Afghanistan. In his tours between 2006 and 2010, Louie made sure he was where the action was and, as a result, was able to capture dramatic footage. This is the source for his film that had its premier showing at the Canadian War Museum on Sept. 24, 2015. The film is really a kind of visual essay made up of both video and still photos designed to show what the war was like for everyone caught up in it. The extended scenes of combat at Pashmul, Nakhonay and one other location do not need narraative to powerfully convey the tension of soldiers moving frantically along a firing line with orders yelled above deafening noise, punctuated by air stirkes on enemy positions causing gigantic clouds of smoke and dust to rise high above. The scenes are both visually and aurally stunning.
Aside from these combat scenes, there are a number of segments which some audienes may find hard to watch. At the begining, Louie shows the results of a Taliban bomb emplanter who made a mistake. His bomb blew up prematurely, killing and dismembering him. The evidence of what this can do to a body is clearly shown in ugly detail. Later in the film, when embedded in a a US m,edical unit, Louise shows scenes of children who have been wounded, with medical technicians trantically tring to give them first aid while a medevac helicoper lands in clouds of dust.
Not all the film is set in Afghanistan. Louie also has visuals from Toronto where he attempts to show his own personal reactions on returning from a war zone to normal life, always difficult for those who have been in conflict.
Louie Palu made this film to help people in Canada and the US understand what the war was like, and to show to some extent why some returning soldiers have trouible leaving their experience behind. I think he has achieved his goal better than most other films dealing with combat that I have see. The fillm will be shown to the general public on October 6, 2015 at 9 p.m. on CBC's Documentary Channel.
T. Robert Fowler, author, Canadian military history