An old man is teaching young men to kill for the military. He says he never killed himself. Now, one kills one’s enemies: Whoever it is one hates: Those hurting, endangering, or threatening one… This is part of the art of war: Securing one’s good at the expense of others’ lives. Who teaches this art but does not use it? What man is without enemies?
One of the young men taught to kill for the military becomes insane. He sees the horror of war. His skill as an assassin eventually overrides loyalty. It seems no one considered whether an assassin can retain mental sanity; or of what kind such a man must be.
The assassin says two things: That his nightmares are unbearable; & that man is dysfunctional on top of the food chain. He explains: Killing with one’s hands is reverent; killing with guns is not. So we see in the one the ugly truth about nature, which puts to shame talk of murder; & in the other the human delusion, based on art. Of course, the edifice built on the arts of war & peace is civilization. But is the edifice properly grounded?
The justice of war & warrior is our problem, but no one speaks to it. Nature is what concerns us. The old man tells the young he must answer for his deeds; he answers, he must live with his deeds. That is the question of human nature: Is man a mythical monster or is some part of him divine? Is there anything reasonable in law, or is it a lie? The old man seems to suggest man lives with harsh nature by enduring & obeying necessity. The young man has gone beyond any obedience.
In the beginning, the old man saves a snared wolf. He beats the man who snared it & warns the hunters about it. Later, the young teaches a little girl about tracking & animals. No one else sees nature this way: People are aware they do not know nature; this scares them & renders them defenseless. Nature is harsh & not particularly peaceful. Indeed, these odd warriors are equally able to hide & hunt in the city as in the forest.
In the end, the old defeats the young; the old fights with a stone knife, the young with steel. When the fight is over, policemen show up in full force. They are unimpressive, led by an hysterical woman. The old man puts his hand on the dying man’s head when once he’s defeated him. He has followed his quarry everywhere; unceasingly, unhesitant, undaunted. He returns to the forest, to his hut, to that winter wolf who runs in the forest.
A good film about the fear & anger of war