‘Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and a Rise of ISIS': Film Review

Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested uncover how a polite fight enabled a expansion of a would-be Islamic caliphate.

Having done a trilogy of docs observation a fight in Afghanistan by deliberately parsimonious frames (the initial of which, Restrepo, warranted an Oscar nomination), Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested fastener with a sprawling Middle East subject in Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and a Rise of ISIS. A useful authority for those who haven’t paid adequate courtesy and a singularity for those who’ve been impressed by years of upsetting news reports, a film explains cause-and-effect relations that, while frequency unexplored, consequence continued attention. Though premiering in singular melodramatic recover this week, it will strech many of a assembly on a National Geographic channel,

Quested, who constructed a Afghanistan films, joins Junger as executive here, assisting broach a film that, yet sketch (as Junker’s initial films did) on large hours of you-are-there fight footage, puts that element in a some-more required big-picture doc context. The filmmakers offer interviews with scholars and policymakers, soldiers and bystanders — even a recently-minted domicile name or two, like former Trump confidant Michael Flynn.

The film traces a Syrian polite fight behind to Mar 2011, when some schoolyard graffiti drew an vast response from officials and triggered a open outcry. Observing as other domestic leaders in a segment were being deposed by newly emboldened citizens, Syria’s boss Bashar al-Assad was dynamic not to follow them: He opted to moment down mercilessly on protesters, intending to vanquish series before it could erupt.

Describing a viciousness of this crackdown, one former restrained laments, “the wardens didn’t have to kick us; we did it ourselves” — packed so firmly into their cells and deprived of food, he says, inmates fought any other like starving rats.

Early in this narrative, a film introduces dual brothers who would be replaced by a indirect warfare. We accommodate them as they censor distant from their homes in Aleppo; one, identified as Radwan, speaks to a filmmakers quietly though says “I have to smile, opposite my will, so my kids don’t get scared.” But he has small to grin about, perplexing to keep a family alive amid consistent bombing. As Junger and Quested lapse to him via a film, examination as he finally attempts to rush to a West, one tries to suppose a American or European citizen who could watch this story and say, “I’m contemptible for your suffering, though we can’t come here.”

Returning to a macro level, a doc explains how antithesis to a Assad regime led to large self-defense militias. Known collectively as a Free Syrian Army, they’re frequency a singular entity for Westerners to convene behind.

As a film charts how ISIS grew in influence, attempting to emanate a stately new caliphate, interviewees explain ways a West done their pursuit easier. David Petraeus discusses a de-Baathification he helped exercise in Iraq, job it a “huge mistake” that incited a intensity allies into enemies. John McCain and others (including French supervision officials) take emanate with President Obama’s doing of Syrian turmoil.

But instead of slow over specific domestic arguments, a film earnings to concentration on ISIS itself — examination how it behaved both as a supervision and as an organized-crime network, saying how it presented itself to intensity translates by propaganda. Near a film’s end, experts explain that prospects aren’t good for a organization, that has done “a universe of enemies.” But a humiliating concentration on a speculation of “individual jihad” shows how a organisation might live on, even if a enemies can take down each black dwindle it flies.


Production company: Junger Quested

Distributor: National Geographic Documentary Films

Directors-Producers: Sebastian Junger, Nick Quested

Screenwriter: Mark Monroe

Executive producers: Tim Pastore, Matt Renner

Director of photography:

Editor: Aaron Soffin

Composer: Joel Goodman

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Documentary)


In English, French, and Arabic

R, 99 minutes



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