Monday, January 10, 2022

The Beast: Mad Max meets Moby Dick

Greetings, comrades!

Every once in a while you uncover a gem, just when you think you have seen all great movies in the genre. The Beast came as an absolute delight. 


A Soviet tank and its warring crew become separated from their patrol and lost in an Afghan valley with a group of vengeance-seeking rebels on their tracks.

My thoughts

It's mind-boggling that this gem did not get more exposure. The Soviet-Afghan conflict hits home, as I have lived through it in the 1980s. I am generally wary of American movies about Russians and Russian movies about Americans - having lived in both countries and experienced both cultures, I can pick up on certain subtleties and inconsistencies (like replying "yes, sir" instead of "yes, comrade"), but this movie surpassed all my expectations. Rarely do you get casual graphic brutality and fragility tugging at the viewer's nerves. The screenwriters do not take sides. Modern audiences might be taken aback by how sympathetically the Mujahadeen were depicted. The film was produced in 1988, at the tail end of the Cold War, so it's not surprising that the Soviets are not portrayed in a heroic light. At the same time, they are not portrayed as caricatures either. The characters on both sides have a surprising amount of depth, the kind you do not necessarily expect in a military film. There is a decent amount of philosophy, psychology and theology woven into the action scenes. The cinematography holds pretty well and doesn't have a "dated" feel to it. Definitely a worthy addition to your war movie collection!

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