PBS Premiere: Aug. 30, 2011Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Statement

Janus MetzWith Armadillo, I was curious to explore how the micro level of war — where human interaction takes place — affects one of the greatest conflicts of our time. How politics meets practice in the war zone.

In the early research for the project, when I was first meeting the young soldiers, I was surprised that the majority of those who had already been to war had a desire to return. Their experiences were violent and bloody, but they all talked with great excitement about battle and about the strong bonds and feelings of unity with their fellow soldiers. Everyday life at home seemed to have become boring in comparison to the intensity of war. It seemed like an addiction.

This puzzled me to the extent that I wanted to try and put myself in the soldiers' shoes. Why do they want to go to war? Is it to change the world and make a difference? Is it excitement? Personal ambitions? Is it something else? And how do these things affect each other, as well as the conflict at large? What impact does this "addiction" have on the situation in Afghanistan? How does it affect the soldiers' ability to assess difficult situations? What does it mean concerning the way local Afghans perceive the foreigners in their country? Does it have an effect the other way around — on the nations that lead these "democracy wars" — and what does it tell us about the young people of our time?

I've always been interested in making films about people who go through life-altering experiences. This film involves a rite of passage where the men are ultimately faced with themselves and their own humanity — it is universal and basic. In the context of war and the young men who are fighting, I was interested in finding out how the perception of masculinity — the good, the bad, the civilized and the barbaric — is reflected in action and how these concepts are adapted in this coming-of-age story.

— Janus Metz, Director