Sunday, 13 January 2013

No.167 : War Witch

The 100 ‘W’ movie blog makes a welcome return to celebrate the many, many ‘W’ films nominated for this year’s Academy awards. We’ll begin with ‘War Witch’ before moving to the lighter charms of ‘Wreck It Ralph’ and then … Well that’s it, but what a haul eh? We showed them ‘Z’ fans - ‘Zero dark Thirty’ and that’s their lot!

‘War Witch’ is nominated in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category and I have to say that it’ll be a good film that beats it - not that I plan to trawl through the ‘W’ initial free Norwegian entry for one.

The film follows the terrible struggles of Komona who lives in a war torn, but unspecified African country. We open with the 14 year old in the late stages of a pregnancy and she relates the trials of her last two years to her unborn child.

We flashback to her as a 12 year old as rebels attack her village and seize several children, including Kamora, to fight their war. As a way of severing her ties with the village they make her machine gun her own parents. She is reluctant at first, but soon lets fly when the parents are threatened with torture. She does come round to the idea quite quickly though, and I have to wonder if the parents regret not getting her that iPad for Christmas.

The rebels soon have the kids trained with AK47s and have them lead raids against government troops. In one early battle Komora is warned of an ambush by some ghosts and is thereafter feted as a ‘war witch’, a rare prize to the superstitious guerrillas. Her new status sees her treatment improve and she soon makes a friend in Magician, a pale skinned lad who makes necklaces and charms that deflect bullets which patently don’t work.

After a brutal battle Magician and Komona escape their warlord boss and after finding the required white cockerel they are married and enjoy a brief period of happiness. Needless to say this is short-lived and before long Komora is back being all witchy and being abused by her commander. Will she be able to escape with only an avocado and a razor blade? Will she find peace and safety and be able to rest the spirits that haunt her? Let’s hope so - I need some cheering up after this!

Despite the grim subject matter and subtitles I really liked this film. It is brutal, but as most of the violence happens off screen it’s your own imagination that fills in the blanks, which is usually worse. The harrowing scenes are more or less relentless, with each chink of light mercilessly snatched away by a gun or machete.

I liked the ‘Sixth Sense’ notion of Komona being able to see dead people and although the corpses looked like they were just a bit sloppy at plastering, it was spooky to see the soldiers on a battlefield being replaced by so many ghosts.

The two leads were great with no obvious acting going on - the pain, grinding poverty and inhumanity was brutally realised and it was almost as big an ordeal to watch as they clearly had making it. There were some brief moments of levity such as them getting drunk on hallucinogenic tree resin but it was all ruined by an engineered car accident to get undeserved compensation - I’m reporting this to the ABI (or local equivalent).

For me this was a brutal and authentic slice of life, and although not enjoyable it certainly kept my interest and delivered a few choice cuts along the way. Ouch!

Best Bit : What do you like in your avacado?

'W' Rating 17/23

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