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In Context

By the time Armadillo screened in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe, the film had already set off a political firestorm.

Though it is not clearly captured in the film, the final, dizzying firefight appears to show the soldiers executing wounded Taliban fighters.

Whether the soldiers go over the line in killing wounded Taliban fighters is in the eye of the beholder, but the fact that the soldiers are seen laughing and bragging after the killing has left many Danes disturbed. The perception that Denmark is in Afghanistan with a humanitarian focus — building schools and protecting civilians — has been questioned. The most potent aspect of the men's solidarity in the face of criticism is their own accusation: How could anyone who was not there presume to judge them?

Before the premiere of Armadillo at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, respected Danish columnist Carsten Jensen wrote an early review of the film, stating that Armadillo was not just a film, but a film that would cause an earthquake in Danish national identity. This sparked great interest in the film from journalists and politicians and stirred up a heated debate for weeks, not only about possible war crimes, but about Danish engagement and what combat does to soldiers. Danish politicians have reacted to Armadillo along party lines. "They have used it to argue for their own opinions," producer Ronnie Fridthjof says. "The left wing says, 'Oh, this proves we need to get out of the war,' whereas the right wing says, 'Our boys are doing a really good job!'"

Filmmaker Janus Metz has stated that his intention was not to answer questions regarding Denmark's foreign policy through the film, but rather to depict the ambiguity of the situation and the way the war is hardening the troops.

The film led to an official inquiry by the military into the events surrounding the Taliban ambush and the alleged misconduct of the soldiers. All of the men have been exonerated.

Photo Caption: A scene from Armadillo  
Credit: Lars Skree

» The Guardian. "Armadillo: the Afghanistan war documentary that shocked Denmark"
» The Telegraph. "Armadillo: The horror! The horror!"
» IFC. "Janus Metz Burrows into 'Armadillo'"
» Spero Forum. "Armadillo: a documentary of a fruitless war in Afghanistan"