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Movie Review

War at Eleven

"Innocent Voices," Directed by Luis Mandoki. Written by Luis Mandoki and Oscar Orlando Torres from a true story. In Spanish with subtitles

In El Salvador in the 1980s, little boys worried about girls, school, playtime, and turning 12. On their 12th birthday, they expected the soldiers to come and take them away.

There were other problems of course. Little Chava tried to help his mother through their terrible poverty. He had chores and responsibilities. For example, he pulled the mattress over the younger children when machine gun bullets whizzed through their tiny makeshift house at night. The next morning, he might have to politely step around dead bodies in the roads of his village. Chava had to remember to play his little portable radio very low and to make sure that the soldiers never heard any banned music. If the cheerful American soldiers, who had come to teach death's methodology, gave him one of their little personal gifts, he had to remember to get rid of it, whether or not he understood why.

He had to worry about relatives and friends who were fighting with the peasants against the army and their Anglo allies.

Other than those things and a few other inconveniences, little Chava was leading the same life as any other darling little boy. But, Chava was nearly twelve.

"Innocent Voices," a gruesome story of war as seen and experienced by young boys, is probably the best war movie I have ever seen.

--Jim Lane

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