Marco Borsato – one of my favorite singers and most definitely my favorite singer in the Dutch language – as a movie star, I was very curious. Finally, Wit Licht, (The Silent Army) arrived in my mail box this week and I got a chance to see this movie that has been received with such mixed feelings. From a standing ovation in Cannes to some very critical reviews in the Netherlands and also on the net (Imdb).
The story is in short the story of Eduard Zuiderwijk (Marco Borsato), who owns and runs a small restaurant in Uganda. His wife dies and left with his son Siebe who is in turn very good friends with Abu, the son of one of the staff members. After the death of his wife, Eduard has a hard time running the restaurant and keeping the relationship with his son good. Abu, who fills an important spot here, is kidnapped by the rebels to become a child soldier. The movie is all about the search for Abu, in the hands of rebel leader Obeke, incidentally a former client and ‘friend’ of Eduard. Intertwined with the search and rescue journey the movie is showing the horrors of children getting involved in war and of course with a happy ending where Abu – who as we understand later had to kill his father to save his own during a raid – is recovered by Eduard and reunited with his mother.
What personally found most difficult is seeing Marco Borsato playing someone else and that took some time to get over. I cannot help but feeling that some of the emotions portrayed by Eduard in the movie were very real as opposed to played. For an acting debut not too shabby at all! While writing this I am looking at the special feautures and now see that one of the African actresses (Abu’s mother in the movie) actually makes fun of that where she found Marco Borsato crying on the set after she portayed a tormented, screeming mother that just lost her son to the Rebels. So there must have been some real emotions in this all.
I was not always impressed with the dialogues but at the same time, that is probably more close to real life than the ither way around. I was particuly impressed with the performance of the rebel general, throughout the movie, whenever you see him there is this real sense of danger hidden behind a relatively friendly presence.
I think it is fantastic that someone like Marco Borsato, also heavily involved in Warchild, and from the site it transpires that the movie is promoted as “War Child Film”, put his name and efforts behind such a great and important cause through this movie. The movie is most defintely not without its weaknesses but then again has some very powerful images in them that really grabbed me by the throat. Whatever the reviews, for that reason alone it is a very worthwhile movie and a must see. One cannot be pointed out enough how horrible war is, and more importantly how devastating the effects are of any war on children, especially child soldiers.
The strongest quote was by Valerie I guess when she decides to break all protocols to help out Eduard against all advice:
“It is not about why we do things but what we do (or words of similar meaning).” “Most people have brilliant reasons to do nothing at all.”