“The robotic war is here, and the future of war could be an Orwellian version of Terminator.” This quote, taken from the director’s statement, best summarises the growing fear of future, and even contemporary, military combat. Documentary director Tonje Hessen Schei wants to bring to the forefront the secretive CIA drone war, and the impact this has on both the victims and the combatants.
This documentary tackles drone warfare head-on through testimonies from those involved in the manufacturing of the machines, the whistleblowers and former drone controllers Michael Haas and Brendan Bryant, through to victims from Waziristan and Pakistan and the legal aide they are seeking from Human Rights lawyer Shahzad Akhbar and Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith.
Drone warfare is a phenomenon that began shortly after 9/11, and, particularly in Waziristan, has been gaining rapid momentum in the number of airstrikes they have deployed – recent statistics put forward by the film note one every two days. As horrifying as this sounds, this film is interested in bringing to the forefront both the legality in which these drones operate under international law, as well as the psychological effects they have had on both the victims and the combatants. In short, it wishes to proactively highlight the devastation this has, and will have, on combat.
Such are the shocking revelations and testimonies, notably the questionable recruitment methods the US military use via video games (while this isn’t wholly new, the scale this film shows is), it’s difficult to keep one’s own intellect engaged and to not be emotionally affected. However, as the film is interested in seeking solutions to this issue – something documentaries seldom offer – it does open it up for discussion. Notably the philosophy of war in this newly formed combatant zone: What are the legal boundaries in war? How far does the state stretch its legal policies under the “terrorism” banner? Will this be the future of military war?
The film’s use of talking-head testimonies, authorial commentators, legal aides and journalists opens the scope for discussion on drone warfare. The psychological affects, the ethical implications, and the technological advancement in military hands may sound dystopian, but coursing through this is a fleeting sense of hope.
Drone is released nationwide on 10th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for Drone here: