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TRIAGE (2009) – The horror of war

December 11, 2009

Written by Leon Jose Manuel Melia
Original text in Spanish; translated here into English.

I am thankful to find on the billboard a film written and directed by Danis Tanovic, who won an Oscar for the surreal fable, No Man’s Land. Now we are approaching the consequences of war, in this case in Kurdistan, in Triage, a curious co-production in the Spanish capital and participating in its cast is actress Paz Vega, who plays Elena, the wife of photographer Mark, played by Colin Farrell, the star of the film, and Christopher Lee.

The first few minutes recount the experiences of two photographers in the middle of the Kurdish war. They are friends and their views on those who fire their machines are different. Mark pursues cruelty and savagery. David (Jamie Sives) the human approach, poetic and symbolic. His snapshots decorate the walls of his house; whereas Mark’s are so brutal that better to hide the rawness and the hyper-realism from his gaze.

This professional and personal way to grasp the dire consequences of any military expression finds the most unbearable tear in the long sequence that occurs in an unexpected field hospital inside a cave in the mountains of Kurdistan. Amid the bustle, the positions of Mark and David are defined. Their aesthetic and morality differ. Mark seeks bodies mutilated and dismembered; David, the tragedy. Mark enters the sanatorium and captures the horrific run of death of injuries that have no solution. The only surgeon examines the destroyed or mutilated bodies and he places a blue or yellow tag on them. Blue means there is no remedy. All the dying soldiers with this color are removed on a stretcher and the doctor himself executes a shot to the head to avoid wasting time and focus on healing those with possibilities–those on whose chest sits the yellow tag. All this ritual is photographed by Mark, knowing that the inhuman savagery and details are priced and sold well. Instead David, tired of so much blood, wants to go home to be near his wife who is on the verge of giving birth.

From here, the two companions (it is a story about friendship) decide to separate. The story takes a turn back to Ireland and Mark returns, a mess and with psychological consequences. It’s this time of internalizing the pain and struggle with terrible feelings of unfortunate experiences (explained in flashbacks) that torment the protagonist with the inevitability of fate. Through trauma and the silence of truth, Danis Tanovic offers a reflection on the barbarity of war and its collateral damage.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    December 12, 2009 12:47 pm

    I am so surprised this movie is not showing yet in the states. What is taking them so long to show it here.

  2. Beth permalink
    December 21, 2009 10:43 pm

    I agree with Sean.

    The movie seems intense, even judging just from the stills, such as the one accompanying this piece.

  3. December 15, 2010 5:35 pm

    strong movie

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