First Kill by Schrijber, Coco
If you're open for new perspectives on war, this movie is a must see. What is the psychology of war? Do soldiers become murderers when they enjoy killing? Is war beautiful? Are all humans capable of monstrous acts? FIRST KILL explores what war does to the human mind and soul. The film stars several interviews with Michael Herr, the former war correspondent who wrote the screenplays to Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Of Equal importance are several in-depth interviews with vietnam veterans that evoke the contradictory feelings that killing produces - fear, hate, seduction and pleasure.
The common war documentary only brings forth the horror and sadness of war and excludes things that might change that simple analysis. This documentary on the contrary, includes the horror and disgust of war, but it also, importantly, stands out to be one of the few documentaries we've have ever seen, to explain 'the libido of war' (which we did not know existed in war). This is done in an exquisite manner by portraying soldiers of the Vietnam war telling the stories of their 'private agendas' out in the jungle.
Although First Kill's focus is on the Vietnam war, it is really about (American and Western) society at this very moment. The questions it raises pertain to events in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ultra-violent videogames, to explicit violence in films, and to shootings by high school students and factory workers. A cry of concern, it is a beautiful work about the most terrifying of subjects.
First Kill stars Michael Herr, the former war correspondent who wrote the screenplays to Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, and wrote Dispatches, the best and most important book about the experiences of the combat soldier in the Vietnam War. For the last ten years Herr has refused to give any interviews, but in First Kill he descends into his own dark experiences one more time. "If war was hell and only hell and there were no other colors in the palate... I don't think people would continue to make war," he says.
To everyone's surprise First Kill was not selected for IDFA, one of the world's leading documentary festivals. But then 9-11 came along, and festival director, Ally Derks, changed her decision. First Kill explores an aspect of human nature few people like to hear about. Director Coco Schrijber intends to confuse the viewer. She creates an atmosphere in which the audience loses its certainties, and is confronted with the ultimate question: Would we pull the trigger? At first Ally Derks would not allow First Kill in the IDFA program, because morally it is a very unsettling film.
The director's motivation
In First Kill, director Coco Schrijber investigates the attraction of "legitimate" killing. "Better than any drug," says one former soldier, Schrijber, herself, was a conscript in the Israeli army. "It was 1982, and the Israelis invaded the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla (in Lebanon). I was totally shocked to see that my side, the good side, committed atrocities. The naivete of people who still think in opposites was the most important reason for my making First Kill."
2003 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival 2002 Rotterdam International Film Festival 2002 Cinema du Reel (Paris) 2002 Sheffield International Documentary Festival (UK) 2002 One World Human Rights Film Festival (Prague) 2002 Seoul Human Rights Film Festival 2002 Leipzig International Documentary Festival 2001 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival
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