Beasts of No Nation is an important film that you must watch. That's it. It's essential. It's the kind of movie that professors will teach classes on. No, I haven't seen an early cut of the film. And no, I don't have any ties to this movie whatsoever. But I can tell that this is a movie that needs to be watched by the final trailer that Netflix recently released.
The trailer (above) was enough to move me to tears and at times I won't be able to emotionally handle the narrative (see: plot) of this film. Beasts of No Nation's content is alarming, disrupting, and disarming. The images Fukunaga puts together are meant to make you feel frozen in your seat and they succeed in doing just that.
This particular trailer, though, is elegant in the way it frames Agu's (Abraham Attah) motivations as a character. We hear his voice are very important moments throughout the trailer and even though he's a child we can already gather that he has a different (maybe greater) understanding of the world around him.
Beasts of No Nation will be in select theaters and on Netflix this week, October 16th, 2015.
[NOTE: This is where the card will end for you if you did not watch the trailer out of fear of violent images. There is no shame in this.]
There are moments throughout the trailer where Fukunaga puts emphasis on the intensity of his subject matter. Early on, we see the children standing in front of a firing line. And later on, we see those same children tape hand grenades into mouths.
Visuals like these are the reasons why this film is so important. How often do we know/understand that the world is a place where horrible acts take place but sweep these issues under the rug?
This film puts it in our faces, Fukunaga shoots each scene in a way that brings us into the world. Wide shots to capture all of the "action on screen" without cutting or letting us look away. Close ups that put us right into the the thick of what is happening on screen. Fukunaga makes us live these moments instead of witness them. He hits us on an emotional level as well as an artistic one.
And one other reason why this is an important film is through the way the story is told. Even in the trailer (which, yes, I know it isn't the whole film) we can already get an understanding of Agu's character arc. The moments he's with his family we can see him smiling, laughing, and happy. And the moments he isn't, he has a straight, serious face; almost emotionless. Fukunaga shows us growth, he doesn't just tell us. (It's also important to note Attah's skill as an actor in these moments)
It's things like the severe opposites in Agu's disposition and the way Fukunaga shoots his scenes that put this movie on my personal essential-viewing list. Fukunaga doesn't pull any punches and with subject matter like this, I don't think you can. I think it'd be irresponsible to paint a different picture of the situation.
I think it's important that you watch this movie. I think it can be an enlightening experience for you. I think it operates on the level that most movies wish they could operate on. Beasts of No Nation will start a discussion, a debate, and maybe even change.
Beasts of No Nation will be out in select theaters/Netflix on October 16th, 2015.