Archive for September 18th, 2013


© 2013 by James Clark


 Kim Nguyen’s War Witch (2012) may be too easy to love and too hard to understand. That concern is not meant as a dismissal, but instead as part and parcel of a brilliant and daring Surrealist filmic campaign.

    The enormously engaging dilemma at the center of this project can be introduced with regard to the very first episode. Amidst arid desolation, a squalid seaside village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is quickly overrun by automatic-weapons-bearing militants arriving in boats. Their objective, it soon becomes obvious (but at the same time confusing) is to acquire adolescents to replenish the staff of their army. Even twenty-somethings apparently won’t do, as we see several of that ilk gunned down on the dusty street. On the assailants’ snagging their prey, those other villagers having till then avoided being murdered are summarily slaughtered (for the sake of sustaining maximum elusiveness). The figure we have followed from the first moment and whose perspective we adopt, a twelve-year-old girl, Komona—this film being structured by three chapters (12, 13, and 14) regarding Komona’s peculiar three-year progression—is immediately thrust into a most demanding boot camp. An officer hands her an automatic firearm, and orders her to shoot her (young) parents. “If you don’t kill them [by way of instant death], I will—with my machete. They’ll suffer a lot.” Her father says, “Komona, do what he says.” She fires away and then she cries, in a thin, smokey way. (more…)

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