Beasts of No Nation: Review

In 2015, Netflix released their first ever full length produced film, titled Beasts of No Nation. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and based off the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, the films depicts the life of a child soldier, Agu, in central Africa. Agu, played by Abraham Attah, is a young boy probably around the age of 10 or 12, and early on in the film, his family is executed and he is the only member of his family to escape being captured or being killed by the fictional government. He soon encounters a group of rebel soldiers, most of which are child soldiers, led by a man they call Commandant (Idris Elba). While Agu is afraid of his commander and many of the men and soldiers around him, his childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country, and he is at first torn between conflicting revulsion and fascination of mechanics of war, but he does not shy away from explicit, visceral detail, and paints a complex, difficult picture of the child soldier.

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The film goes in depth into the disturbing and brutal realities of real child soldiers in Africa. All though the nation and he story depicted is fictional, the kinds of warfare and conflicts that take place throughout the film are actual realities that take place in various countries in central and west Africa. Throughout the film Agu is faced with conflicts of being forced to kill grown men(pictured above) given hallucinogenic drugs, and partakes in brutal and gruesome ravages of small villages, where soldiers steal, murder and rape the people of the village.

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The film also shows conflicts that arise from Agu’s experience as a soldier. He see’s internal conflicts within his militia arise as soldiers begin to turn against their Commandant, and he is forced to take a side of the either the Man who abducted him into the militia, or follow his fellow soldiers into the unknown where they will most likely be killed or captured without any leadership. Another child soldier who Agu befriends is killed during battle and Agu looses another person that he cares about. Perhaps the most powerful part of the film comes at the end, when Agu is rescued by members of the U.N. and is taken to a sanctuary away from the militia and warfare he was a part of. While he is there, Agu is depicted as suffering from PTSD and withdrawals from the various drugs he had been taking, and it creates an image that becomes hard to watch as a child is now experiencing the pain and trauma of war, something that most grown men have an extremely hard time recovering from after war.


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