Everyone has seen Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down about twenty times each, both are outstanding films but no need to retread these one more time for the sake of redundancy. Here are my top three favorite war movies that you’ve probably never heard of before:
9 Rota (9th Company)
I just recently became aware of a Russian film about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and found it streaming on Netflix. Although the movie begins with an ominous “From The Ministry of Culture and Art” this film was apparently fairly controversial in Russia and wasn’t merely a state-sponsored propaganda movie. In fact, it didn’t at all shy away from the horrors of Russia’s war in Afghanistan.
“9 Rota” or “9th Company” in English has also warranted comparisons to “Full Metal Jacket”, about America’s Cold War quagmire in Vietnam. Like Kubrick’s film, 9 Rota begins with the intake of young Russian conscripts and proceeds to follow them through their training is Uzbekistan before the recruits are shipped off to Afghanistan. Like Arleigh Ermy’s character in Full Metal Jacket, the Drill Sergeant in 9 Rota puts the recruits through hell, taking them through one torture session after the next. There are some funny moments as well, the recruits engaging in the usual hijinx that you would expect from young soldiers.
I’m sure that some people will feel that the makers of 9 Rota directly lifted the format from Full Metal Jacket, but I think its important to acknowledge to commonalities that soldiers share, often crossing over and between different nations and cultures. Although this movie is about Russian soldiers fighting in Afghanistan in 1988, I experienced much of the same as an American soldier fighting in Afghanistan in 2004. The first arrival in Bagram Airfield was especially familiar as I recall my first glimpse of the mountains as the aircraft’s ramp lowered, much like in this film.