There’s nothing like the World War II that made such an impact in the world and instigated thousands of art works, movies and series. Even after seven decades it lingers on our cultural and social milieu as a major theme of interest. Therefore, war films were more frequent in the twentieth century. But the new millennium arose with many more complex conflicts especially in the middle east. Peace had to fly the coop from terrorist gunpoint. The world’s heart beats began to pound faster whenever middle east is on news. Afghanistan is a major one among these war-shredded countries. The disregarded were the Afghan people who went through years of commotion and violence. Now, as the US is set to withdraw its troops after two decades of war, let’s take a look at how this era was portrayed in cinema.
Most of the movies and series on this subject are obviously American. Though a tint of ‘ Hollywood perspective’ is prominent in many of them, they show the dark side and controversies attached to the war. The 2007 movie Charlie Wilson’s War presents the beginning story of this conflict. While Lions for Lambs (2007), Dirty Wars (2013), and The Kill Team (2013) focused on the thin line between the heroes and villains, Zero Dark Thirty and Lone Survivor told the tales of Afghanistan in aspects of survival and grit. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), The Unknown Known (2013) and The Tillman Story (2010) are also notable ones among them as they talked about the politics and propaganda behind the US invasion. The documentaries Restrepo (2010) and Korengal (2014) hold a special place as they captured the intensity of infantry combats in a way that no one had attempted. We could go on and on about such substantial movies which were reached to many people around the world.
Afghan cinema never had a chance to flourish, stuck in the middle of many political turmoil. The dozen movies made in the twenty first century were all based on the political situation. Siddiq Barmak’s Osama (2003) earned many critical acclamations as it was made in the viewpoint of Afghan people. It presented the struggles of a pre-teen girl living under Taliban regime disguised as a boy to support her family. In the documentary 16 Days in Afghanistan (2008) by Anwar Hajher filmed his own experience when returning to his home country demolished by violence, after twenty- five years. The French- Afghan film Kabuli Kid leaves our thoughts haunted by the horror of warfare. Yama Rauff’s No Woman surpassed the norms in Afghan cinema by courageously showing the obstacles women has to overcome in a society dominated by inequality as well as terrorism. A Letter to the President by Roya Sadat is an analogous one to it.
In a nutshell, all of these movies distinctively depict how terrorism and politics wallop various human lives. The aftereffects of such a historic warfare will prevail over many centuries, at least in the lives of Afghan people and nourish artistic expressions in times to come.