Socialist Worker

Johnny Mad Dog

Issue No. 2175

Johnny Mad Dog

Johnny Mad Dog


Telling the story of a band of child soldiers, this French made drama looks like a documentary. It throws the viewer into the horror of a civil war in Africa.

The country is never named, though it was filmed in Liberia, one of several countries to experience such a conflict.

The film shows the contradictions of life for the young soldiers who were often forced to join an armed faction when they were as young as ten.

The central character Johnny can barely remember his previous life – or even a name beyond the nickname his comrades in arms use.

Western films about the worst aspects of African experience always risk being simplistic or patronising. This film tends to avoid this danger by making no concessions to Western viewers.

There is no white visitor in danger as a viewpoint character. The cast is entirely African and includes several former child soldiers. It makes everything feel very authentic, but offers no idea of any alternative.

Directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire


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Tue 27 Oct 2009, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2175
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