I intended to watch half of this one evening and half the next, time being of the essence yesterday, but ended up going to bed extremely late feeling harrowed and humbled.
This is a truly superb film about a group of disparate soldiers brought together in a boot camp before going off to Afghanistan to take part in a holding of the heights, Djardan 3234. Based on true events, as these sort of films so often are, there is obviously some artistic licence taken but this really does not matter. What does is that "9th Company" portrays a little known conflict in very uncompromising terms. Forced to pay attention initially if only because it is subtitled you do not need to understand Russian to get inside the hearts and minds of the individuals and the acting is excellent. You have Giaconda, the artist soldier looking for the purity of experience; the boy from the streets who comes into his own more than you'd ever think; the traumatised Warrant Officer responsible for shaping them into soldiers and a host of others. The first half of the film concentrates on how they come together, their relationships and how they see life and the second - well, it has some of the most realistic, harrowing and upsetting battle scenes I have ever seen. It shows the conflict at such close quarters, and so realistically, I had to force myself to watch at points. The blood, the hand to hand, the desperation, fear, realisation of encroaching death and the utter futility.
The cinematography is beautifully done. The colours are rich and put you right there, in the action. It is also a very unpredictable film, perhaps because the Afghanistan conflict is so little portrayed on film, except for the Rambo types. There are even moments of pure beauty and pathos. My heart went out, for example, to Snow White and what she meant to the boys who passed through the boot camp. This is a world away from that. The most recent Rambo, highly praised (and rightly so) for it's far more realistic depiction of battle does not even begin to stack up against "9th Company". It is not a film I am likely to watch again for some time as it is not comfortable or easy viewing and I felt rather like the worst sort of voyeur. But I am glad I own it and it will come out again. Just not yet. If you are in any way a fan of war films then this is an absolute must see. Don't miss it.