Triage is a different type of war movie, the one that deals with the consequences of such a tragic event. And don’t think this is some boring drama preaching how bad war is because it is most certainly not. It’s an intelligent and slightly depressive character study with a phenomenal cast. The movie is directed by Danis Tanovic, a man born in the former Yugoslavia and with an intimate knowledge of just how fucked up these things can get. However, what makes Triage even more intriguing is the fact it’s based on a novel of the same name written by American veteran war correspondent Scott Anderson.
All of this makes it feel very honest and authentic. And I get you, sometimes you’re not in the mood for a movie like this. A gloomy drama exploring difficult subjects requires a certain state of mind. Just know that it’s relatively short with a ninety-minute running time and that once you start watching it, you will be hooked. I feel that movies like Triage snap me back to reality and expand my worldview. You start to feel differently about certain things in your life. Things that have nothing to do with war or anything. It’s a strange feeling and I wonder if you have it too?
Most of the story is taking place in a remote region of Iraq, a place that many of us will come to know in the following years. Triage focuses on the late eighties Saddam Hussein’s war efforts to kill all the Kurds. Now, Kurds do not have a state of their own, and they live in parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Now, in case you didn’t know, triage is the prioritization of medical needs during difficult situations. You assess who has the greatest chance to live and who’s likely going to die.
And this is exactly what Dr. Talzani has to do. He’s played by another guy from former Yugoslavia, brilliant Branko Djuric. And if you want to see another one of their movies do check out No Man’s Land. It’s also a war movie but with a lot more comedy. The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2002.
Mark and David are currently in a shabby truck on their way to a secret Kurd base high in the Iraqi mountains. They’re war photographers there to report on Saddam’s campaign against Kurds in that part of the country. And while this is not their first assignment, the things they will see and hear are horrifying. They will soon start to take their toll but this is just the beginning of their journey.
Another interesting aspect that we can see here is the fact that if you’re a war photographer, you look at the war through a lens. That lens may make things look closer, farther, or a bit different but that fact pertains to the photo, not the photographer. Just something to think about. If you’re looking for more movies about war reporters, I recommend you check out Under Fire and Killing Fields. Oliver Stone’s Salvador was a bit too messy for me but you might like it. Finally, I will leave you with this quote from the movie:
There is no pattern to who lives or dies in war… In war people dia because they do. There is nothing more to it than that.
Scott Anderson, novel Triage
Director: Danis Tanovic
Writers: Danis Tanovic. Scott Anderson
Cast: Colin Farrell, Christopher Lee, Branko Djuric, Myia Elliott, Kelly Reilly, Jamie Sives
Fun Stuff: Colin Farrell lost 44 pounds in preparation for this role. He says he ate only tuna and drank black coffee and diet coke.