The Land Of The Enlightened

There are several powerful sequences in this documentary about Afghanistan, which looks at commercially-astute child bandits and US soldiers as the latter prepare for evacuation. There is much affinity with the local people, which is what you’d hope for from a filmmaker who spent seven years amassing footage, though American troops are portrayed in a rather desultory fashion as wasteful (see Restrepo for a more balanced analysis of life in a strategic mountain outpost). Director Pieter-Jan De Pue has made a film that is often insightful and thoughtful, as well as being extremely beautiful and shocking at times, but I’m not wholly convinced his decision to blend fictional narratives into the documentary pays off. I know it is a technique that has been used by great filmmakers… but I just have an aversion to it. (***)