Tag Archives: Terrorism


“Religion after all has a habit of bypassing all avenues of logic, insisting instead upon both giant leaps of faith and the defence of the utterly unprovable.”

Wayward Wolf.

Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS – Hell on Earth from hereon in – is a Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested-directed National Geographic documentary chronicling the tragic events that have befallen the people of Syria, and the knock-on Global effects that have unavoidably followed over the past decade or so.

You can tell that this is an American, National Geographic production. In amongst uncensored gratuitous scenes of dead bodies, scattered limbs, and general carnage, a small boy, out of his mind with grief and anger following another devastating bombing raid on his city, has his somewhat ‘expressive’ disapproval of the Syrian president edited – for swearing.

One can’t help but smile at the ludicrosity of it. Moments of levity such as this however are few and far between in this most harrowing account of what can only be described as an utter on-going nightmare.

The film analyses, in a very linear fashion, the events that led to the on-going civil war in Syria and how ultimately the fallout from that and International military intervention both there and in Iraq and Afghanistan has given rise to radical groups of Muslims hell-bent on imposing, through fear and force, their particularly unsavoury interpretation of Islam upon large swathes of the Middle East.

Watching this bleak but powerful film, one can’t help but be hugely affected by its devastating message, on a worryingly personal level. Previous generations in ‘The West’ have of course had their own set of explosive political issues to contend with. One thinks back to the 1980s and the fear of the Irish Republican Army, and of the cold war and its seemingly omnipresent threat of nuclear armageddon. Never though was it quite on the same sort of hysterical level that we see in the world today with the threat of ISIS and religion-influenced terrorism in general, very much a global concern.

However, unlike obstacles and threats to peace that were faced in the not too distant past, and for which there was at least some scope for negotiation, there is perhaps no negotiating with religious fanaticism. Religion after all has a habit of bypassing all avenues of logic, insisting instead upon both giant leaps of faith and the defence of the utterly unprovable.

A heady cocktail of corrupt regimes, the actions of insurgents, disenchanted and opportunistic religious fanaticism, and the meddling military intervention of Western super powers has not only brought the likes of Syria and Iraq to their knees, but heavily implicated much of the rest of the world into these troubles too both through subsequent unsustainable levels of mass immigration, and through vengeful terrorism in Allah’s name.

Indeed, regardless of who is doing the fighting, and whoever happens to be on the receiving end of it, Hell on Earth is awash with one constantly recurring sentiment: “Allahu Akbar!” (God is greater).

I should hope so too.

Mercilessly executing their fellow man as they go, some of those fighting in the prophet’s name are not exactly setting the bar very high.

It’s a big mess, that’s for sure, and one that’s very effectively and powerfully captured in Junger and Quested’s hard-hitting film. If there is a criticism to be made it is that a combination of information overload and the film’s very quick-fire pace and delivery make it rather difficult to absorb all content, effectively. Subsequent viewings may prove to be beneficial. On a similar note, the film’s brisk pace leaves little space and time to contemplate and ponder some of the more emotionally-charged and unsettling content – but perhaps that’s a good thing?

Benefiting from innumerable sources of both official and amateur video footage, as far as slick, informative, and relatively impartial documentaries go, Hell on Earth, though at times difficult viewing, successfully manages to capture this most troubling period in human history.










“We look after our own in the army, Cook.”

When private Gary Cook is deserted behind enemy lines by his troop, amidst the chaos of a full-blown riot, it sets up the kind of scenario you’d expect Hollywood to have air dropped Nicholas Cage into. “One man’s mission impossible… Against all odds, he’s going home…”

Mercifully, he isn’t and it’s not. This is ’71, an ultra gritty tale of a soldier trying to escape with his life, scared witless by the pitiful cauldron of hate and madness that was 1970s Northern Ireland.

There are no heroes here and no sides taken, just pawns caught up in the mess, either indoctrinated by belief systems or by ‘the system’ itself. It’s not as simple as them against us for Cook, if it was, perhaps he’d have a fair chance; instead, the confusion of subterfuge on both sides leaves us asking, “who can you trust?” and more importantly, “what are their underlying motives?”

It’s a minefield for sure and a pretty tense one at that; gripping from start to finish, something director Yann Demange deserves big credit for, ratcheting up the suspense throughout.

Whilst Cook’s part as the lone, would-be escapee is down-played by the director a little, in favour of those plotting and conniving around him, his sense of fear and bewilderment is palpable and conveyed convincingly. A naive, reluctant soldier, right in the thick of it. A pawn in the game, if ever there was one.

A very minor criticism; the ending. It feels like a bit of an afterthought. Without giving anything away, you can see the point that the director is trying to make, but that point is in itself a big topic, deserving I felt of further expansion.

Don’t let that detract though from what is a really good film.

“They don’t care about you. To them, you’re a piece of meat. You want to know what the army is? It’s posh cunts, ordering thick cunts to kill poor cunts…”

Probably a fair summation of the brass tacks of this war and every war before and since.

See it.