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War Witch (2012)

Rebelle

Starring:

Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien

Alex Herabo

Diane Uwamahoro

Dole Malalou

Jean Kabuya

Jonathan Kombe

Jupiter Bokondji

Karim Bamaraki

Marie Dilou

Mizinga Mwinga

Rachel Mwanza

Ralph Prosper

Sephora Françoise

Serge Kanyinda

Starlette Mathata

Directed by:

Kim Nguyen

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 90 minutes

Country: Canada

As you might guess from the poster and trailers, War Witch is a cheerful film following the lives of three fairies in a fun-filled adventure to the top of Mountain Chocodust to meet the Joking Jester. Or it’s about Komona (Mwanza), a 14-year-old girl who’s kidnapped from her village and forced to fight for the Grand Tiger (Mwinga), a rebel warlord somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. To survive, she is made to kill her parents, carry out executions and battle the government forces, however she also manages to fall in love with Magicien (Kanyinda), a fellow child soldier, who she runs away with.

War Witch is a heartfelt tale about a girl in the most desperate of circumstances. It’s the most believable, unmelodramatic depiction of child soldiers I’ve seen so far which is strangely Directed by a Canadian but told in a local tongue. The story touches on many of the major themes that always come up with the subject of child soldiers in Africa – Komona is made to do terrible things that make her grow up quickly, she gets addicted to ‘magic milk’ and she’s impregnated against her will. All this is done without an epic musical score, with a lack of slo-mos and in matter-of-fact manner and importantly there’s hope mixed in with hopelessness.

The romance between Komona and Magicien is played out touchingly, there’s the upbeat modern-African soundtrack that lightens the mood in places and the urban locations are simple but nicely filmed. The characterisation is also excellent as we get some well fleshed out characters who are easy to root for – especially Komono, Magicien and The Butcher (Prosper) – and who retain their humanity even after they’ve done or seen some terrible things.

To learn more about child soldiers in Africa, don’t join the cult of Kony 2012, watch this movie instead.

It's Got: Excellent characterisation, acting and multi-themed story

It Needs: None of unsubtle melodramatics of the usual efforts to get it's point across

Alternatives:

As if I am Not There, Blood Diamond, Soldier Child

Summary

A touching portrayal of one 14-year-old girl’s journey through a civil war in Sub-Saharan. War Witch has a subtly told, engaging story that needs no melodrama to get it’s point across.

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