Posted by: mensab | February 1, 2008

Innocent Voices of wars

innocent voices           The film, Innocent Voices, presents a story of Chava, an 11-year old boy, in a small village in El Salvador during the outbreak of civil war in the 1980s. The film is a departure from the previous films the class has watched. The previous films (Paradise Now, Michael Collins, GI Jane, and Apocalypse Now) depict people who are deeply involved in the conflict as soldiers, rebels, and suicide bombers. In Innocent Voices, it depicts the story of victims; those who are trapped in the midst of a conflict. It takes the perspective of a child who is on the verge of being recruited in the El Salvadoran army, who becomes “a man in the house” when his father has left them, and who falls in love with a classmate.


            Gow (2006) defines war as “contest underpinned by violence between politically motivated groups using it as a peculiar decision making tool” (p. 394). The civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s pitted the US-backed and financed El Salvadoran army versus the Frente Farabundo Marti para La Liberacion Nacional (FMLN). The film through its presentation of the journey of an 11-year old boy caught up in the web of civil war is able to deepen the understanding of the social and historical contexts of the war itself (ibid, 2006).


            In the same article, Gow (2006) points out that “there is a long tradition, dating back to Aristotle, which holds that narrative (and symbolic) representation, including acts of violence, can be cathartic and even therapeutic” (p. 396). The question and answer part of the class with the writer (Torres) on which the story of the film is based is the highlight of the film class. Torres considered the filming of his story as a healing process of the wounds and bitter memories brought about by the civil war in his life. He repeatedly recognized the tool of the film as such for himself and for the others who experienced and witnessed similar images and realities of war.


            Many realities of war are depicted in the film. One of which is the recruitment of child soldiers. I think this is the advocacy of the film. Child soldiering is prevalent in other war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Burma. In the film, it estimates the number of child soldiers around the world to be at about 400,000. This is the part I like about the film. It carries an advocacy, an added meaning to the story. It touches those who watch it to think about the children who are robbed of their innocence and childhood. It is hoped that the thinking leads to action against the recruitment of child soldiers in the conflict.


Gow, J. (2006). Strategy Pedagogy and Pedagogic Strategy. International Relations.




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