Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Kajaki (4 Stars)
This is a true film about the events of September 6th 2006. A squad of British soldiers is stationed on a hill overlooking the Kajaki Dam in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Their mission is to protect the dam, because they have received intelligence reports that the Taliban intends to destroy it. When they see Taliban militia blocking the road and extorting money from civilians who wish to pass, they send a few soldiers down the hill to remove the roadblock. Halfway down the hill a soldier steps on a Russian mine and loses his leg. Other soldiers are sent to rescue him, but they soon realise that they're standing in the middle of a minefield. The mines are well hidden under the sand after 20 years of lying on the hillside. Despite their best efforts to be cautious they're picked off one by one by the mines as they attempt to return to safety.
The film was made with the assistance of one of the surviving soldiers. It's realistic, gritty and unglamorous. Rather than the Taliban, they are being killed by an anonymous unseen enemy, the Russians who were long gone after abandoning Afghanistan in 1989. It's not a pretty film, but that's not the intention. War is ugly.
It was interesting to read in the texts at the end of the film that the majority of the soldiers shown in the film were still in the British army in 2014, when the film was made. Whatever setbacks they experienced on that ominous day they were willing to continue fighting for their country. They are real heroes.