Path Of Blood – Film Review by Aisling Foster
Director & Producer: Jonathan Hacker
Editor: Mark Boal
Composer: Chad Hobson
Narrator: Samuel West
Voice of Jihad: Tom Hollander
Let the title be a warning. There’s an awful lot of blood in this documentary. All real. The stuff of ambush, bombing, in-your-face suicide and execution, recorded on grainy film stock and mobile phones by priapic young Al Qaeda terrorists from around the Islamic world.
These are home movies like no other, ragged images captured by the security forces and cut together into the shape of a full length film. Dates and confrontations are flagged through war zones like Algeria, Bosnia, Syria and Iran, but as more and more blood is splashed (including a disgusting scene of a blindfolded American with a gun to his head) the horror grows strangely distancing, as meaningless as the piles of unnamed bodies left in their wake.
More interesting is the footage of apprentice suicide bombers at play. Filmed in Al Qaeda training camps, squads of sweetly-smiling boys share a desperate longing to fit in and be approved of by their grim faced instructors. Clearly, whether crowded into stuffy rooms or roughing it in primitive desert camp-sites, this is the most exciting experience of their lives. Like boy scouts everywhere, they are enjoying every minute of a holiday from their real (often illiterate) lives and imminent deaths, whether play fighting like puppies or running wheelbarrow races with friends. Yet as the specially composed music racks the tension towards a derring-do finale, one is left with a lingering question; for whom or what this film was made?