While countless people across the worldslumber safe and sound in a shielded shell of harmony and peace, the horrors ofwar and conflict is the definite reality for many others around the world.Forced to become devices of war, to murder or be murdered, these child soldiersare compelled and constrained to see the cruel forms of evil that exist withinour world at a very young age. They fight like warriors, and are forced,trained and conditioned to do criminal acts.
They mostly either end up dead, orbecome traumatized and troubled survivors. These child soldiers represent thecentral symbol to how crooked and corrupt the core of warfare is. Thosefigures, like many others, are presented in many mass media outlets, but one ofthe most important tools of media are motion pictures, because of theirpowerful influence on humans. In many motion films then and now, child soldiersare portrayed in many contrasting ways that contradicts the other’srepresentation, such as seeing them as mistreated instruments of war or inother cases as heroes. And because the public relies greatly on mediarepresentations to understand issues with which they are personally unfamiliarwith, like in this case what children in war go through, they take an opinionbased on the representation that is offered to them.
It is significant tocomprehend how child soldiers are represented in films since their portrayalcan influence the society and the people’s understanding of the issue totally.Many movie nowadays are trying to get the message across that those childrenare not incurable monsters. The method of recruiting these children to fight inwars, whether they did it willingly or not, purely terminates the virtue andpurity that children have the right to keep until they grow up.Envision awakening with your body covered inicy sweat, remembering the cries and prayers that you have witnessed withinyour dreams, dreading it because you know that nightmare is your reality.Several of these children, who go through those horrifying conditions, aretypically taken at an extremely early age, meaning they are deprived of theirright to have a normal childhood and are thrown through immoral situations thatare too much on a sane adult human, so how about a blameless, defenselesschild? They go through this before they even get to acquire the awareness todistinguish between what’s right and what is wrong in this world.
This gives usan idea that because of the brutal circumstances they have to go through, eventhe ones with the purest hearts can be induced into turning into coldbloodedkillers. This is just the start to the path of problems they can encounter onthe way. So we will go into depth within the topic of what problems they mightface, and how those problems when put in films can actually reflect manyrealities of those children to the viewers.
This is why people’s differentinterpretations can cause fear or sympathy to grow within them towards thosechildren. The first problem they face is that they are forced to partake inbattles and fights that include the use of weapons, such as guns, knives andswords, which places those youngsters’ physical and mental health in jeopardy,and this is all based on reasons and bases which they might actually knowlittle to nothing about, or are misled in some way to believe they are fightingfor a certain reason (Maslen, 445). An example of this can be how in the movie”Beasts of No Nation” which was directed by Cary Fukunaga, we can see thedescent of an unknown West African society where many rebel groups take youngboys and brainwash and train them to kill many others (S. and D. Rosen, 308),under the impression and belief that they are taking revenge on the people whoslaughtered their families. The main character that is a key in this example isa boy named Agu, who in the movie is shown to know that he is committing themost outrageous sin, which is killing another human being, but believes thatit’s the right thing to do.
This is because he thinks that he is avenging hisfamily and people, since he was conditioned to believe that this is the case.The wrongdoings that these children commit in the movie are clearly identifiedas a role of hardened loathing and the desire to avenge rather than them beingconditioned by fear.