The Crosby Street Hotel, SoHo, NYC
April 13, 2011
Like last year’s “Restrepo”, Janus Metz’s “Armadillo” puts us, the audience, right into the center of the action. The director & his cameraman were side by side with the Danish soldiers of the Armadillo army base over the course of their six month tour of duty. The film’s denouement comes when the platoon, under ambush by local Taliban, potentially transgress war conventions. As a result, the military tries to reneg on the embedding contract they have with Metz, pressuring him to edit the film of that section. Of course, forcing the issue will only end in bad publicity for the military so they relent and Metz releases “Armadillo” as is.
In a panel discussion after the screening I attended, Metz describes the difficulty of alienating the soldiers after having bonded with them during the process of making the film. He was, after all, right in the trenches with them as well before and after, even getting to know their families. A number of the soldiers felt he betrayed since the footage could have destroyed their careers and reputations, and indeed certainly make them look like they used poor judgment. But, more importantly, what comes from viewing the film from a thoughtful standpoint, is that one should be very careful in judging how people respond under such remarkable circumstances.