After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens-and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.
User Reviews: Not all movies are fun, and this one sure isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good movie.
The emotions raised in this movie are one’s of disgust and sympathy. Disgust for the actions of the Syrian government, and its Russian allies, in bombing the crap out of one of their own cities (Aleppo). The destruction portrayed here is, frankly unimaginable, as you see the bombs being dropped on a city that probably has more bombed out homes and apartments than livable ones. How, you can’t help but ask, can a government do that to its own people? Is there really any justification for this kind of behavior?
There aren’t many reviews in IMDB for this movie, but one of them is from a Syrian government sympathizer who claims that the images and story presented here are nothing but anti-government propaganda. Well, if that is what it is, then they have gone to incredible lengths to create an alternative, fictional universe and the filmmakers deserve awards not for documentary feature, but best special effects. I don’t know how you could fake many of these scenes.
The sympathy comes from the story that unfolds in this documentary for a small band of dedicated Aleppans (?) called the White Helmets. These people are sort of the equivalent of a fire department, except that fighting fires is probably the smallest part of their job. Mostly they spend days on end digging people, some of them alive, but most of them dead, out from under the collapsed buildings where they used to live. Most of the bodies are those of children and women and the horror of finding unattached limbs is not sugar-coated here. How you ask, can these people continue to live here.
And, an even bigger question is how can these White Helmets do this kind of work day after day? We see one of the men, a leader of one of the brigades, find some small amount of solace in creating a gold-fish pond in his courtyard. His love for his family, and his city, is so strong and, especially at the end, it is difficult not to cry for him.
This is not a feel-good movie – there is no way you can laugh during this movie, nor feel better about the prospects of these people. But it is a powerful and effective documentary that opens your eyes to both what is evil in men, and how much good can be found in those who fight it. I give this 4 stars (out of 5).