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ABC TV "At The Movies" show - review

5 May 2005

Landmines: A Love Story

Review by Margaret Pomeranz

In the ruined city of Kabul, during the time of Taliban rule, a former Mujaheddin soldier noticed a pretty Tajik girl with one leg and began to court her. This was the beginning on an unlikely love story. Part essay and part observational film, this is an anti-war film set in a country that has become synonymous with warfare.

Margaret: David:

Dennis O'Rourke is one of this country's most celebrated documentarians. His latest film is LAND MINES A LOVE STORY, which sounds like a contradiction in terms but when you see the film you'll understand the title.

It's inconceivable when we're told at the beginning of the film that 10 million land mines were laid in Afghanistan over the years of the Russian invasion, the internal fighting of the Mujaheddin, the struggle of the Taliban and then with the Americans, surely that's more than one land mine per person in that country.

But this is not a film about statistics, it's about the people whose lives have been affected by those very statistics.

This is a worthy film, the subjects O'Rourke found are articulate, one of the elements of the film I found so touching was the everyday poetry of the Afghan language, through the subtitles of course.

His main subjects, Habiba and Shah are both amputees and their story is heart wrenching, although rather repetitive at times.

If the story doesn't soar, perhaps it's because O'Rourke doesn't want to go for the emotional jugular but is content to present life as it is for these terribly disadvantaged people.

Further comments

DAVID: Well, I think that's right. And I think in some of his films in the past, O'Rourke has tended to insert himself into the film and here he holds himself back and I think the film is all the better for it. Because he's found, as you say, some wonderfully articulate and very, very damaged, hurt people. Yet, who are managing to cope with the terrible hand that life's dealt them, thanks to the wars that have surged around them, and this despicable form of warfare that...

MARGARET: But the way the children are taught in school how to recognise the different bombs,


MARGARET: And that's terrible, but it was so good seeing girls in those classes, you know, I really loved that.

DAVID: Yes, I think it's a very beautiful film this. It's a very simple film. But it's a very beautiful one and I think we can be, we can be really quite proud that it's an Australian movie.

Production details

Release date: 05/05/2005
Release details: Limited. Staggered Release 5 May and 12 May, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Please check local papers for details.
Classification: PG
Duration: 73 mins
Genre: Documentary
Director: Dennis O'Rourke
Producer: Dennis O'Rourke
Screenplay: Dennis O'Rourke
Distributor: Ronin Films
Language: English

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