Inability to admit failure reason US is still in Afghanistan: ‘War Machine’ director (IANS Interview)

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Mumbai, May 30 (IANS) “War Machine” director David Michod — whose film portrays the absurdity of war — believes that the US is still embroiled in Afghanistan because of “specific generals and their inability to admit failure”.

At a time there are reports that US President Donald Trump is mulling sending more troops to Afghanistan, the film is very relevant, said Michod, who was in India last week to promote “War Machine” with Hollywood star Brad Pitt.

“In the face of yet another proposed troops surge, the question that we all should be asking is, ‘Why and what will this troop surge achieve that all previous ones have not’.

“I think part of the film is saying that the reason that we are still at war in Afghanistan even after 16 years… probably has something to do with the American military generally, but also specific generals and their inability to admit failure.

“When they are incapable of admitting anything that they can’t do, they are not as powerful as they would like to believe they are… Instead of doing the thing that is probably the best thing for the entire world — which is pull away or admit that you were wrong — they instead double down, and cause more death, destruction and chaos,” Michod told IANS in an interview here.

The film had its premiere on Netflix on May 26, and will have a limited release. Pitt has backed the film with his banner Plan B Entertainment.

Michod has an India connection. His tryst with the country began when he wrote his university honours thesis on Indian politics while studying in Melbourne in 1993.

The wide canvas of Indian entertainment industry still remains a mystery to Michod, but it is the political story of the country that has stayed with him till now.

“I strangely don’t know a lot about the Indian entertainment industry. But I know quite a bit about India because I wrote my honours thesis on Indian politics. I have been here a bunch of times. I was almost obsessed with India when I was young but I didn’t come here until after I graduated in 1993,” Michod said.

“I follow a little bit (of current politics). But it is not like I used to. I used to do it all the time and used to try to read Indian newspapers and read books about India.”

Asked about the changes he has observed in the Indian government machinery, Michod said: “I feel scared to pass any commentary on the Indian political situation.”

Prodded further, Michod looked out to the city view from French windows at a hotel here, and responded: “Because it is none of my business. You know what I mean.”

As he stared at the view of the calming sea along with the bustling city, Michod became nostalgic about his connection with the country.

He said: “I was so excited when I finally came to India in 1993. It was like a place I only read and dreamed about suddenly became real. But I haven’t been here for quite a while. The last time I came here was 16 years ago and that was in Mumbai.”

The first thing he did after landing in the city was take a stroll along Marine Drive. He also went to walk around the places where he used to hang out.

“It is just extraordinary to me the way the place has changed. The city feels healthy. It has always been incredible mixture of money, energy, power and poverty as well… And walking around the city felt good, alive and positive.”

After helming various short films and documentaries, Michod, who graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, announced his arrival as a feature film director in 2010 with the critically acclaimed movie “Animal Kingdom”.

The transition from being a film journalist to a filmmaker was smooth. He followed it up with “The Rover”. And he is back with “War Machine”, which is a satirical comedy with Pitt essaying role of US General Glen McMahon who is tough but overconfident — and whose only aim is to lead his army to victory in Afghanistan.

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of Netflix. Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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