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FIRST KILL

Netherlands, 2001 (MIFF 2002, Documentaries)

Director: Coco Schrijber

This unflinching documentary explores the minds of American soldiers who served a tour of duty in Vietnam, questioning them about the experience of the first time they took the life of a fellow human being.

The film is anchored in the recollections of Michael Herr, war correspondent, consultant to Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now! and screenwriter of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Herr is incredibly articulate on this macabre subject, able to offer insights into the mindset of the typical vet. The accompanying interviews with a number of walking wounded (many still emotionally or physically crippled by a war a quarter of a century past) don't offer easy answers. Amongst moments of despairing remorse there sits an horrific nostalgia or even a strong desire to be in the jungle killing once again.

First Kill boasts a clarity of style and unobtrusive approach ideal for its subject. An element of the grotesque is harbored within these men's souls which have been forever changed by the horrors of war.

Dutch director Coco Schrijber has had quite a prodigious output, turning out seven documentaries on very difference topics since Leven Van Steen in 1992. Other films include In Motion (1994), Lunch in Budapest (1996) and Not Great, Not Small (1997).

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