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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Story pulls viewer into war movie

By Christopher Rasmussen/reporter

   Innocent Voices is one of the few movies to hit theater screens that makes it impossible for the viewer not to get emotionally involved.
   The film takes place during the El Salvadoran civil war of the 1980s.
   Screenwriter Oscar Torres based the story on the true events he experienced growing up in the war-torn country.
   Eleven-year-old Chava, played by the award-winning Carlos Padilla, serves as the narrator and main character of the tragic story.
   As the man of the house, Chava undertakes the burden of having to work to feed his family.
   His responsibilities are made harder by the escalating violence that seems to engulf his small town.
   The Salvadoran army intermittingly rounds up 12-year-old children in the village and recruits them to fight the peasant rebels of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.
   Chava has one year left to decide whether to stay in his village and risk being recruited by the government’s army or join the rebels.
   During this year of innocence, Chava has a full spectrum of life experiences.
   The village priest, who befriends and protects Chava, plays a powerful role in the movie.
   As the priest, Daniel Gimenez Cacho of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Bad Education fame gives an exceptional performance.
   With classic scenes of Chava dancing to disco music in front of army soldiers, racing the bus with his best friends, experiencing his first kiss and the uncle’s playing classical guitar for the family after a horrific shootout, the film constantly tugs at the heartstrings.
   The happy scenes of the movie all have a tinge of melancholy to them, with the war being a dark cloud looming overhead.
   The cinematography in Luis Mandoki’s creation is unbeatable. The colors of the jungle add to the eerie mystique of the Salvadoran war.
   With all the great actors and great camera work lies a message the film communicates.
   The message is a wake-up call to the world to take a stand against governments that support armies that recruit children as soldiers.
   Presently, 300,000 children serve in armies in more than 40 countries.
   “This isn’t just about me, but about all the other kids that are living this nightmare now,” Torres said at a Hollywood screening.
   The seriousness of the message was prevalent on the set.
   During a post-screening interview, Luis Mandoki, producer, said Torres would frequently disappear during the shooting of the film.
   “ Later I would find him crouching under a tree crying,” he said.
   This film is a definite must-see.
   The truths it reveals about war are not the kind that our main news media outlets choose to delve into.
   With an intimate cast of characters, the seriousness of the situation is made more real and personal.
   If one is looking for a light-hearted movie to see with a date, this is not the ideal choice.
   Knowing this is a powerful, emotional film beforehand will help the viewer appreciate what the film is all about.
   Even with that word of caution, there is serious doubt anyone can leave the theater after watching Innocent Voices without having cried.
   This R-rated film will educate, enlighten and entertain. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Don’t let that keep you away.
   Do yourself and the world a favor by experiencing Innocent Voices.

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