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also known as Ballade vom kleinen Soldaten

Ballad of the Little Soldier1984

  • 3.9
Never one to shy away from criticism, Werner Herzog followed the controversy over his treatment of the Aguaruna Indians during the FITZCARRALDO production by journeying into the jungles of Nicaragua and Honduras to document the Miskito Indians’ armed struggle against the Sandinistas. The fact that the Sandinistas were at the time a cause celebré to the left ensured a stormy reception though, in retrospect, the actual film strikes a nuanced position: on the one hand documenting the Miskitos’ vivid testimonies regarding Sandinista atrocities and, on the other, casting a withering eye on their growing reliance on child soldiers to fight a protracted guerrilla war. BALLAD OF A LITTLE SOLDIER was co-directed by Denis Reichle, a seasoned combat photojournalist whose reminiscences about seeing German boys conscripted to fight the hopeless battles at the end of the Second World War (and provides the film its bitter denouement). - Max Goldberg

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Member Reviews (7)

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top reviewer

I'm old enough to remember the Sandanistas struggle against the bloody dictator Anastasio Samoza and the subsequent illegal war that the Reagan White House waged against them by funding the Contra army.

The Sandanistas received very favourable press and those they fought against were largely portrayed as thugs.

So I was surprised to see that the Sandanistas themselves were as capable of conducting atrocities against oppressed people as the regime they replaced.

I wish that this film had delved into reasons for the conflict between the Miskito people and the Sandanistas. This lack of context lessens the impact of the film.

1 member likes this review
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filmmaker

Heartbreaking and deeply disturbing.

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top reviewer

Many years of fighting happened in Nicaragua after this documentary was shot. I wonder how many of these boys survived combat and had an opportunity to build a life.

The use of children in combat was certainly not restricted to the Nicaraguan conflict. The German reporter in the film mentions the German adolescent boys thrown into battle at the end of WWII. Conflicts over the last 25 years in Africa and Asia have involved large numbers of child soldiers. As the trainer stated at the end of the film, a child of 12 years will believe whatever is told to him.

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top reviewer

So many of the regional conflicts fly under the radar for most of the world. It's a shame there is not enough publicity to bring help to their plight.

'Don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows....' It blows all over and all around.

SAD

whoau....... love it