Ballad of the Little Soldier

Documentary / TV Movie

IMDb Rating 7.3 10 805


Downloaded times
February 28, 2021



Werner Herzog as Interviewer
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
422.84 MB
German 2.0
23.976 fps
46 min
P/S N/A / N/A
784.75 MB
German 2.0
23.976 fps
46 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by zimmyfan66 8 / 10 / 10

Human Bondage

"It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded." --W. Somerset Maugham. Werner Herzog's 45 minute documentary succinctly captures the reality of this achingly honest quote from W. Somerset Maugham. One moment in particular hammers it home. From an eager distance, Herzog's camera watches as a hired instructor bellows quick commands and warnings to cherubic soldiers waiting in line to test out a mortar. We can see down the line as each face reveals itself from behind the comrade's head in front of them. We see, despite the violent circumstances and the impoverished economic situation of those soldiers, delighted white marbles smiles and we recognize in that moment the happy-go-lucky face of childhood. We know, from our own experiences of childhood, from within and from observation, that these children cannot possibly grasp the full extent of their presence, right there in that field, dressed in scroungy uniforms and preparing for the use of weapons, no less. They only know that, as soon as their turn comes, they will get to operate an explosive weapon and behold its trajectory and its landing without the added screaming and carnage of battle. What eventually happens is devastating. In one of the many shots capturing pairs of mortar operators, an extremely young soldier, perhaps only 7 or 8, is fumbling with the shell as his comrade holds the cylinder upright. The shell refuses to slide with ease down the tunnel of the mortar and there's an uneasy few seconds where you're certain something is going to go wrong, particularly when the instructor only minutes earlier warned the young soldiers about the dangerously sensitive fuses on the mortar. Instead of facilitating the situation safely, the instructor gives the little boy an adult sized wallop on the shoulder. The shell eventually finds its way down the tunnel, shooting right back out with a soft pop and a cloud of smoke. Immediately afterward the instructor gives the hesitant child soldier yet another wallop before the child soldier and his comrade go to the line where the soldiers who already shot a mortar round wait for further instructions. In the moment of preparing that shell, Herzog closes in on that child soldier's face. In the blink of an eye we see that child's face go from eager anticipation to one of absolute despondency. What's terrifying is that this despondency arises not out of the child's realization that he just participated in the testing of a deadly weapon, but out of a reprimand from an older soldier. In this moment we see just how attentive those little ears, how expectant those little eyes, and how heartbroken those little bodies are. They, like all children (despite rough exteriors in some), are little followers, wanting only to please their instructors (both military and family) and be good sons and brothers. Their leaders, the hired instructors who teach the boys to shoot, march and stomp, are would-be older brothers. The tragedy is that in reality they turn out to be nothing more than enforcers of code whose necessity is only explained in terms of vengeance. When Herzog asks a child soldier why he wants to kill other little boys, the child soldier responds with something to the effect of, "They killed my mother and my brother and now I want to kill." These boys can only understand (and then still so very poorly) war in terms of schoolyard conceptions of an eye-for-an-eye and being brave. They are vulnerable, and, in one instructor's words, "pure" and ready to accept training with an "uncorrupted" (here meaning "unquestioningly willing") constitution. We thought we knew what it meant for a soldier to be called "fodder" but we don't really know until we see Herzog's close ups of the child soldiers in formation with instructors standing by and basically advertising their worth as killing machines. And if this fails to disturb us, then Denis Reichle's (co-director) postulations on the situation will. From behind the formation he looks down on the backs of the heads of the child soldiers. Turning away from them and looking off to the distance, Reichle tells us that this experience is too much for him because when he was only 11 he was recruited to fight for the Nazi's in their last hold over Berlin. "A lot of us died," Reichle says, "and it's hard not to see these children as already dead." He is right to say this because, in so many ways, these children ARE already dead. Their youths have been robbed from them, much more prematurely than we in privileged societies know and understand. Their parents, their siblings, their friends have been robbed from them. Their sense of safety in their homeland has been robbed from them. And just like the village woman with a ransacked house that Herzog interviews, they have been robbed of damn near everything except their fragile, saddened lives. Herzog conveys all of this so simply and without affectation. The result is a deeply disturbing and wholly necessary film that tells a classic story (the stealing of youth by war and other destructive adult activities) in a singularly devastating way. You won't be the same after seeing it.

Reviewed by FilmCriticLalitRao 8 / 10 / 10

Any viewer would need to know something about Nicaraguan history to understand this documentary by director Werner Herzog.

For 'Ballad of the little soldier',Werner Herzog worked with Denis Reichle who fought against the Russian army.There is a brief description of him talking about what he experienced as a child soldier.The film gains its force through the portrayal of young children who have been employed as soldiers by Miskito Indians who fight against Sandinistas.During the course of talks with these child soldiers,it is revealed that many of them chose to take up arms in order to avenge their family members who were killed by Sandinistas.Watching small children learning to shoot guns,one is reminded of the role weapons play in killing even innocent souls who ought to go to school or play.It has been exactly three decades since documentary film 'Ballad of the little soldier' was made by Werner Herzog in 1984.It is hailed as one of the most important works of cinema about the use of children as soldiers.This film has not at all lost its relevance as there are still numerous wars being waged in different parts of the world where children are involved as little soldiers.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 8 / 10 / 10

Greatly in need of some editing but still a film that will hit you like a punch in the gut.

"The Ballad of the Little Soldier" opening song went on too long Miskito Indian way too long' didn't explain their plight and that the tribe fought for both sides It's odd that I would say that a documentary is badly in need of an editing--and STILL it's an extraordinary film that is well worth seeing. Had the film been trimmed a bit, it would have been amazingly good. It begins with a child soldier singing a song--a song that seems to go on forever. And, when the film ends, he once again sings the same song! This easily could have been trimmed and would have made the film much less long-winded and a lot more likely to keep the attention of the audience. However, what happens in between is VERY compelling. It consists of Werner Herzog and his crew visiting a Contra camp during the bloody Nicaraguan civil war of the 1980s. These folks were anti-communist Miskito Indians--and often ranged from 10-12 years of age! What they only mentioned briefly is that the Miskitos ALSO fought with the communists--making the whole war rather pointless from their point of view. Overall, aside from a need for editing, it's a powerful film--due to the amazingly sad content. Worth seeing and heartbreaking that kids were used like this and continue to be used throughout the world to fight wars that they don't even understand.

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