Following a similar style to what Joshua Oppenheimer has done with The Act of Killing' and 'The Look of Silence', 'Fragment 53' further investigates the absurd atrocities human beings are able to push themselves towards - with every story being told by a different perpetrator and in a different setting. A lucid and meticulous look at what effects war can have on the human species.
I think those interviews with Afrikaans soldiers and fighters are incredibly interesting, a great witness of their life, spiritual beliefs and tribal wisdom, family ties, bravery and, above all, cruelty. They've only known war and loss, they fear nothing, they kill cold blood. At the very end, God has failed because the Good and the Evil are inseparable twins: forever and ever they'll fight, no matter what.
The interviews with seven former Liberian "warriors" are certainly harrowing and troubling to watch. However I could not help feeling that the decision to allow these firsthand accounts to stand alone - with minimal effort to place them in the wider context of the Liberian civil wars themselves - was an unsatisfying one on the part of the directors.
Film qui renseigne plus sur leurs auteurs que sur la guerre du Liberia ( la guerre tribale comme fatalité venue de la nuit des temps avec dieux ancestraux etc.), aucune interrogation sur la parole des "guerriers" survivants, à quoi leur sert-elle ? De jolis plans déplorables.
I read the story about the war in Liberia years ago in Ryszard Kapuscinski's The Shadow of the Sun and I at the beginning of the movie I recalled he mentioned about two-hours long video depicting tortures of one of former leaders. Hard to imagine this video was distributed on VHS and watched all over the country. You'll be moved by "Fragment 53" unless you already saw Joshua Oppenheimer's films.
Seven Liberian warriors..with cartoon-like names such as Rambo, Mosquito, General Buttnaked.. the film narrates through their testimonies and principals real stories of violence, bestiality, loss and spirituality, which are to illustrate the universal and perpetual essence of war. Beautiful raw cinematography. The camera stays close as to recreate the physical fear in the battle.
Three stars because this has too much of the "Heart of Darkness" ideology bound up in its inception. Listen to these intelligent, articulate, well-spoken men using US military language in a country created ostensibly for and by former American slaves. There is a spirituality, a gravitas that emanates from them, which is why they were chosen to begin with. The ahistorical, pseudo-universal set-up betrays them.
A friend who has seen this documentary at a festival in nyc recommended it to me saying that it is a difficult film that doesn't come towards you, that you have to make an active effort to stay with it, but if you do, it pays off by giving you a cold, almost clinical insight in the existential mechanics of violence. After watching, I second this opinion, adding that the cinematography is excellent.