5 DAYS OF WAR
The First Casualty of War Is Truth
Release Date: August 19, 2011
Genre: War Movie
Audience: Older teenagers to adults
Runtime: 113 minutes
Distributor: Anchor Bay Films
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Mikko Alanne and David Battle
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Greg Maffei, President/CEO
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According to one of the producers, many scenes recreate historical events that took place during the actual conflict. In fact, Harlin traveled to Georgia several times before production began to speak with reporters who had experienced the war on the ground, visit the actual battlegrounds and gather stories from Georgian survivors and witnesses.
In the opening scene, Anders and Ganz are ambushed in Iraq during the 2007 U.S.-led conflict. Anders’s girlfriend and colleague, Miriam, dies in a violent and graphic attack scene. The two men, meanwhile, are rescued by Captain Avaliani, a Georgian officer, who plays an important part later in the movie.
A year later, Anders watches television as Russian troops enter Georgia over a dispute about the enclave of South Ossetia. Georgian President Saakashvili pleads for peace. In this sense, the movie is slightly biased (although it does not attempt to conceal its bias), as the events surrounding the entry of Russian troops into South Ossetia are highly debated, and may even have involved prior aggression by Georgia itself on Russian soil. (South Ossetia has in fact a dense population of Russian inhabitants, and the sovereignty of the state is also a contentious subject.) Viewers are therefore advised not to view FIVE DAYS OF WAR as an unbiased retelling of history. The movie is stridently anti-Russian, no doubt in an attempt to redress a perceived imbalance of pro-Russian news coverage (or complete lack of coverage) during the war.
The movie’s forte, nonetheless, is the depiction of the cruelty and havoc of war, tearing families apart and destroying the otherwise serene beauty of the Ossetian countryside. In a pivotal moment, Anders and Ganz witness a militia hired by the Russians to do their dirty work ransack villages while murdering and raping the inhabitants. Having captured the whole sordid affair on camera, the journalists set out to do whatever it takes to get the truth out to the rest of the world, which seems to be so preoccupied with the Beijing Olympics that they pay little heed to the raging conflict.
Although this movie is not perfect, it achieves what it sets out to do: draw the world’s (and especially, we sense, the Western world’s) attention to the devastation of war to which we can too easily turn a blind eye because it’s happening so far from home. Harlin delivers an exciting, provocative and at times moving feature, followed by heart-wrenching real-life testimonies by family members who experienced the war first-hand. If the movie remains pro-Georgian, no pro-Russian explanation can truly explain away the chilling horror of one witness, who was told by the Red Cross that her “husband was buried in [their] garden. He had been hanged.” Indeed, as one of the characters reminds viewers, “The first casualty of war is truth.”
Mature audiences will no doubt be deeply moved by 5 DAYS OF WAR. However, MOVIEGUIDE ® advises caution for graphic violence, language and some troubling, intense events and situations. Not for the faint hearted, and definitely not for children, 5 DAYS OF WAR is nevertheless a riveting movie torn from pages of history.
The strength of 5 DAYS OF WAR is its ability to depict the cruelty and havoc of war, tearing families apart and destroying the otherwise serene beauty of the Georgian countryside. Director Renny Harlin delivers an exciting, provocative and poignant movie, including heart-wrenching real-life testimonies of family members who experienced the war first-hand. There’s some very strong violence and foul language, however, so extreme caution is advised for 5 DAYS OF WAR.