Review: Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children
In Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children, retired general Romeo Dallaire, who led the United Nations peacekeeping force during the Rwandan genocide, focuses on his humanitarian efforts to end the use of child soldiers. Directed and produced by Patrick Reed, the documentary explores Dallaire’s journey from North America to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and South Soudan, where he addresses the urgent issue of child soldiers and unveils the people who help these children escape the militia groups that have kidnapped them.
Throughout the documentary Romeo Dallaire explores the ways in which militia leaders are able to create their armies by using children. Dallaire does not just focus on the use of children as an expendable weapon but also highlights the dilemma soldiers’ face when they are forced to shoot at an army that is comprised mainly of children. What Dallaire expresses is that when they are fighting, these children are trained to be as deadly as adults, but despite the atrocities they have been trained to commit, they are ultimately still children.
Dallaire performs interviews with many people who are affected by the phenomenon of child soldiers. Much of the documentary focuses on him talking to child soldier survivors, parents whose children have been abducted by militia groups, and the people on the front lines who are trying to save these children. It is these interviews that make up some of the most moving moments in the documentary. The film also sheds some light on the Lord’s Resistance Army, which is one of the most dangerous groups that unabatedly uses children. As a result of the constant threat that the LRA poses, another dilemma arises, since in order to protect their homes and families, villages create armed forces which often contain local children.
The documentary does have a distracting element, which is a graphic-novel style animation that is interspersed throughout the film. The animation illustrates a story that is told from the perspective of a young boy who is kidnapped and forced to become a soldier. The use of animation distracts from the harsh realities that are explored in the majority of the documentary. It is certainly a tragic and important story to hear, but it is the animation that fails to add to the horror that is being conveyed.
Although it is not fully discussed, the documentary does mention that the issue of child soldiers is the result of larger problems that need to be addressed. The film leaves it unclear in regards to if and how these greater issues are being dealt with. Dallaire does acknowledge that truly preventing the use of child soldiers may not happen in the immediate future, but by continuing to work towards eradicating this problem, a solution will eventually be achieved.
Should You See It?
Fight Like Soldiers Die Like Children is worth watching since it provides a greater awareness of a crucial issue.