Matt Zoller Seitz


If you’re willing to consider an honest look at the costs of war (those who gave at the office needn’t bother), check out Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin, a documentary from Italian filmmakers Fabrizio Lazzaretti, Alberto Vendemmiati and Giuseppe Petitto about Afghanistan. While it focuses on Italian doctor Gino Strada’s attempts to found a field hospital last year, and includes a number of non-Afghans in the mix, it doesn’t treat the region’s mayhem as a sideshow for Western soul-searching. The searing images of homeless citizens and children maimed by land mines offer a glimpse of hell on earth, and clarify the fact that Afghanistan was suffering long before the U.S. began bombing the place.

More than 20 years of war–first with the Soviets, then among warring factions–reduced the place to a nearly medieval state, allowing the thuggish fundamentalist Taliban to take over. (There are no talking heads and no narration; it’s pure cinema verite.) Most revealing of all are the interviews with Northern Alliance fighters, currently portrayed in the U.S. media as the Central Asian equivalent of the French underground in World War II; they make it clear that they consider the U.S., the Brits and the Pakistanis to be a bunch of interfering foreigners who must be driven out at any cost. War makes strange bedfellows.

Volume 14, Issue 48

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Spy Game Proves to Be Its Own Undoing; Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin Is an Honest Look at the Costs of War
Matt Zoller Seitz
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