Featured documentary – First Kill
First Kill is a war documentary that explores the dark side of man and the psychology of soldiers at war. Vietnam veterans are interviewed about their experiences and what war does to the human mind and soul.
This film challenges many common beliefs surrounding the psychology of war. It shows war to be a multi-faceted experience containing a wide range of emotions where horror can be punctuated by extreme pleasure and elation. “If war was hell and only hell and there were no other colors in the palate… I don’t think people would continue to make war,” -Michael Herr
The most fascinating man interviewed is Michael Herr who wrote ‘Dispatches’ and the screenplays for Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now – two of the best Vietnam war films ever made. A softly spoken and quietly creepy man, Michael Herr talks about the seductive beauty of war . It is for this reason that I think this film may not be for everyone. It is disturbing yet at the time strangely hypnotic and intoxicating in the same way as Apocalypse Now. Maybe war is the same? It is repulsive, yet attractive at the same time. While watching this I was reminded of Colonel Kurtz’s quote in Apocalypse Now: ‘I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving…’
Why are we attracted to things that scare us? Why do peaceful people have a gross fascination with violence and horror? Does it take a certain type of person to kill another man or given the right circumstance are we all capable of it? Are our primitive instincts learnt or inherent? I think many people don’t understand why adventurers jump out of planes or mountaineers climb peaks that have claimed hundreds of lives. There is a clarity in a life or death situation, it is powerful, seductive, and fatally addictive.
This documentary is a journey into the heart of darkness and is unlike any war documentary I have seen.