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REVIEW: The Bombardment


 Well, Netflix has done it again.  Last year, they had a World War II film called The Forgotten Battle, which really felt like the forgotten movie.  Few people ever saw it, and when I watched it there were only seven reviews for it on Rotten Tomatoes.  It was an excellent film with production quality that vastly exceeded the constraints of its budget.  This year, it seems like there is a similar scenario.

The Bombardment (also known as The Shadow In My Eye) is a Danish film that is directed by Ole Bornedal, who also wrote the script.  As with The Forgotten Battle, this movie seems to have arrived on Netlflix with no promotion, and only has five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  Also like The Forgotten Battle, it is a very well shot film with terrific production quality.

The film tells the story of a real life bombing of a school in Denmark in 1945, an accident that killed 86 children as well as 18 adults.  The target for the raid was the headquarters of the Gestapo in Copenhagen, an action that had been requested by the resistance movement in Denmark.  After one of the bombers crashed near the school, the following bombers mistook the smoke from the crash as the target.  Numerous bombs were then dropped on the school.

Filmed mostly from the perspective of children, Bornedal illustrates how war terrorizes the most innocent of civilians, and how the battles are indiscriminate in their taking of human life.  We would like to think that children should be safe, that they should be protected from the most nasty elements of human existence, but that is not the case.  Movies about children in war like to show perseverance and have an ending where the worst tragedies are averted, which is what makes watching The Bombardment so difficult.

Bornedal doesn't hide the horrors of what happened, and the perishing of children.  I'm not saying he shows it visually, because he doesn't.  The tragedy is front and centre, and yet it's left to our minds to fill in the blanks, which is a technique that horror films can employ to leave the actual images up to the imagination of the audience.  We feel the pain about the sad consequences of this mistake, and it really is heart wrenching.

Parents waiting to hear news of the status of their children are a key part of the final act of this film.  As we watch them, it is easy to understand a small portion of the suffering and the near futile clinging onto hope that is being experienced.  The acting of everyone in this film is top notch, from the children to the adults, which makes scenes like this so impactful.

There is some small hope found in here, but not much.  It is not a movie that is setting out to completely torture its viewers.  I rarely enjoy films like that, as everything is an exercise in just tormenting those poor fools who paid admission or pressed play.  The pain here is great, but the story allows for redemptions, growth, and love.  These are the most important aspects, and they are what breaks through the misery.

Many films show just how nasty World War II was, but few are actually brave enough to dive into the tragedies involving children without pulling any punches.  Little ones in Europe were not immune to the falling bombs or the trains to concentration camps, and remembering just how the actions of warring adults affects the most vulnerable of us is important.

I am very happy that I watched The Bombardment. It was well made, though suffered a bit in the middle which felt a tiny bit scattered. If my podcast co-host Christopher is interested in having this film reviewed on The Movie Breakdown, then it needs to happen soon before I forget elements, because I won't be watching it again.  The brilliance of Bornedal here is showing just how the spirit of children can remain in a horrible landscape, but also how that doesn't make them physically immune.  We are watching kids be kids, trying to still have joy in life before facing the ultimate consequences of war, and it is this contrast that ultimately caused me to chop some onions.

Rating - 4 out to 4 stars


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