Path of Blood
We, the public, can only see what we are shown. Footage displayed on TV screens courtesy of news channels, and videos showered over the internet in little fragments of propaganda for uneducated and gullible minds to absorb. In recent years, the ever-growing accessibility of social media has led to young individuals being recruited into Daesh, yet it should not be forgotten that the can of worms that threatens western society was opened many years prior to this with the severe threat that was Al-Qaeda. Now, thanks to footage from both military and Jihadi sources, Thomas Small and Jonathan Hacker’s book Path of Blood has been adapted into a film of the same title in an attempt to create a visual rendition that is as shocking to watch as it was to read.
Directed by co-author Hacker, the feature opens with a message from Osama Bin Laden, calling for those who truly believe in the cause and establishing an empire that would destroy the West to rise up and take back what is theirs. The result of this broadcast was unimaginable. With the growing rate of car bomb attacks and assassinations seeming uncontainable in the eyes of the Saudi State, the military and special forces were involuntarily left to retaliate with comparable levels of violence in order to stop their country burning around them. Thanks to captured Al Qaeda tapes and footage, the movie presents a pair of eyes into the unsettling and humanistic lives of those Jihadi soldiers, disturbing and captivating even the hardiest of audiences.
Aside from fractional moments, the feature is compiled purely from the video recordings of the Saudi military and Al Qaeda, a touch that the filmmaker believed to be an important element when telling the story – and he certainly wasn’t wrong. Leaving the film with a raw, grainy gloss, the director’s harsh and unstable visuals promptly enchant and transport the audience into every room, compound and vehicle onscreen, instantaneously immersing the viewer in the graphic and alarming reality of the content. With battlefield engagements intertwined with blooper reel style outtakes to propaganda speeches, it is both confounding and unnerving to acknowledge that these individuals wielding weapons and preaching hate are not just bipedal beings as the world is led to believe, but members of the human race.
The lack of an intense narrative – aside from short interjections from narrator Samuel West – allows the audience to interpret what they are witnessing for themselves, which, although it may leave the piece subject to slight criticism from small corners of the religious world, will receive gratification for not forcing and crowbarring scenes of an extreme and violent nature into the forefront of the viewer’s vision. A film that commendably decides to pull no punches, Path of Blood is a powerful and extraordinary picture that will leave screening rooms purposefully silent as the credits role, but rightfully so. War is no game and acts of terror should be displayed in their true fashion to provide a detailed and efficient education, even if that does call for an 18 certificate.
Path of Blood is released nationwide on 13th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for Path of Blood here: