Review of The Mournful Film “Retrograde”

Although "Retrograde" is about many different subjects, the faces take center stage. The cameras linger on the faces, enabling the anguish, anxiety, nervousness, and desperate expressions to develop.

Although "Retrograde" is about many different subjects, the faces take center stage. The cameras linger on the faces, enabling the anguish, anxiety, nervousness, and desperate expressions to develop. There are numerous stories here that are well-known throughout the world. "Retrograde" describes the American military's departure from Afghanistan in 2021 following a nearly 20-year conflict and/or occupation. The emphasis on humans is what makes "Retrograde" such a profoundly depressing movie. As empires advance through history, ordinary people suffer. Afghanistan's citizens have repeatedly paid the price.

The movie was filmed in the months that followed the American evacuation. Heineman and his team have a close-up view of every private encounter and chat as they go alongside the Afghan Army through the streets, on the bases, in helicopters, and in armored vehicles dodging bullets. The film opens with the last Green Berets, aware that their time is running out, holed up in Camp Shorab in the Helmand Province. None of them desire to leave. Always, individuals on the ground are more aware of what is going on than those in Washington. These individuals have been in Afghanistan for years, collaborating with and educating the Afghan Army in an effort to stave off the Taliban. The Green Berets and their Afghan colleagues have a bond, but there is also a gap. Everyone is aware of the uneven power dynamics.

One guy, Sami Sadat, a commander in the Afghan Army and a hero, is the source of all optimism for the future. He is well-known in his native nation, and his supporters are devoted. He is also the subject of a massive attack. The American was marked for death when he departed, should he be discovered. There was a danger to his family. Heineman is present to see it all: the frantic talks about ammo, training, cities falling under Taliban control, the threat to Kabul, and the holdout of Lashkar Gah being in immediate danger after the American exit. Each exchange carries a sense of the big picture. They are surrounded. They are powerless to stop the tsunami of the Taliban.

Similar to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose very existence has been a source of hope and courage to his people, Sadat is a genuine and captivating character. Zelenskyy, who was just named Person of the Year by Time magazine, is aware of his symbolic power and uses it in his Instagram Live videos and other media. He is a boss. Sadat holds the same burden of significance symbolically. He is the only one in charge of motivating his troops and the only one with sufficient emotional and psychological clout to exhort them to persevere and keep in mind why they are fighting. But eventually, the conflict is resolved. It will continue in exile, but for millions of people, this is a tragedy. Sadat says something chilling: "My spirit was left there. I'm moving through empty space."

The processes involved in transferring a base, retiring from a territory, or making full retreats are referred to in the military as "retrograde." Retrograde is defined as an "organized movement away from the enemy" in the official language, and that is what Heineman captures in eerie sequences of the Special Forces unit destroying printouts and maps, taking computers out of service, and otherwise drastically reducing their presence and leaving nothing behind. (This piece regarding the size of the Afghan backward operation is intriguing.) It is impossible to overlook the metaphorical astrological meanings of retrograde when observing the utter chaos and terror that break out when the Americans launch the retrograde operation.

Newspapers from all across the world featured the events at Kabul Airport on their front pages. The documentary's footage is horrifying and distressing. The music by H. Scott Salinas is gloomy, elegiac, and obviously extremely depressing. The full weight of the disaster unfolding is felt when contrasted with the faces of the women, men, and children, where nervousness and despair are virtually on the surface of the skin. The access Heineman, Timothy Grucza, and Olivier Sarbil were able to secure while filming the movie is amazing (including chilling footage of a triumphant mass meeting of the Taliban in Kabul). This is a difficult and contentious topic. Heineman doesn't give speeches.

He concentrates on individuals, including Sadat, his Green Beret coworkers, and Sadat's troops, many of whom merely helplessly stare at Sadat and seek to him for guidance. One soldier, with his eyes big and gleaming, adds, "There's a time when Sadat and his guys are holed up in a compound, the air filled with the sound of gunfire, and the Taliban are actually over there." "Things are getting worse. What are we to do?" There isn't truly a solution.

A Green Beret makes a joke to a teenage Afghan soldier, "Were you even born when this war started." Soldier chuckles. The stakes are huge, and the predicament is silly and desperate, so it's a joke. The Green Beret, who has worked with the Afghans for years, is stating the obvious. One of the aspects of "Retrograde" that stands out the most is the intimacy between the men. It is not shocking how this has all turned out given the numerous unsuccessful attempts empires have made throughout history to "subdue" Afghanistan. However, it is difficult to escape the consequences, and the outcome is tragic nonetheless.

The movie ends with a long, lingering view of a woman leaning against a chain-link fence and gazing at the American soldiers. Her face is etched with an unspoken mixture of loss, horror, and hypervigilance. The full tragedy can be seen if you connect every prolonged closeup of a face, whether it's an Afghan face or an American, Australian, or British face. Even dialogue wouldn't be necessary.

Post a Comment

Post a Comment