Comment: Why You Must Watch 'A War'
The above video contains swearing and scenes of violence
It's no secret that I have military experience; my boasting about 10 years in the Royal Marines and the shiny carbon-fibre leg hanging out of the bottom of my shorts kind of gives it away.
But I am always a little nervous about watching a war movie. Not because I'm concerned I'm going to curl up in a little ball and regress into some 'fight or flight' primeval state, but rather it is like a busman's holiday.
I have been in a war, I have been shot at, I have been blown up, I have lost friends and I have very confused feelings about all those experiences. Watching a Hollywood interpretation about what war is, and how it affects everyone involved, does not really interest me.
So on the morning of a press junket for a Danish film about the conflict in Afghanistan, enduring a devilish hangover in a faceless London hotel, professionalism got the better of me and I sat down to watch the movie on my laptop.
It is tough to describe the reaction I had. The first thing that I will say is that I experienced a physical reaction, my fists clenched throughout the film. Tears flowed down my face four or five times - not out of sadness, but because it surfaced feelings and emotions that I had neglected. Things that had been lost in the fog of my coma and then de-prioritised in the new goal of recovery.
You see, this film got it right. The noise was real, the language was real, the patrol formations were real, the medical treatment was real.. the screams were real, it was all too real.
By filling the cast with Vets and leaving the 'acting' to a very small core of professionals the writer and director achieved authenticity. The Afghans were actual Pashtu-speaking Afghan refugees, the eastern Turkish terrain a straight swap for Helmand - no need for a jingoistic soundtrack and endless CGI.
When it finished, I was mess. I went to the junket and conducted one of the most raw yet honest interviews of my life. Afterwards I spoke with the film's producers urging them to make a bigger deal about this movie. I felt we needed to shout from the highest hill about it, and so the first Little Film Show Special is born.
Please watch this movie, even if you have nothing to do with the Armed Forces and you think James Bond is a realistic depiction of international military conflict.
It is going to show you why we come back the way we do, why the families are the way they are - and why our laws struggle to fit the mould when dealing with an environment that has no rules.
If you're not moved by 'A War', check your pulse.
Photo Credit: 'A War' - StudioCanal. An AZ Celtic Films and Nordisk Film Production