Virunga

Virunga ★★★★

This is one of those rare documentaries that change the way you see the world. It will at least change the way you see the Republic of Congo.

It definitely has an agenda, but I don't care. It's the right agenda to be pushing. And it's pretty easy to absorb when the message is simply: Don't kill things. The Virunga National Park has been a center for violence recently. Rebel groups are moving in to the park for the prospect of oil, poaching, and more so just to have control. Basically in a toddler state of mind, the rebels see the preservation of the park as something being withheld from them. This documentary follows a group of people as they try to keep things the way they are, potentially at the cost of their own lives.

It's obvious that the documentary uses clever editing to really drum up the tension. That's what most every documentary does. It's not to misled the viewer, it's used to make the situation at hand come to life. It also uses some great footage of wild and captive gorillas. Three gorillas in particular are being kept at a sanctuary here away from poachers, rebels, and the like. They fell victim to people who for some unknown reason can't see the value in the lives of these extremely intelligent creatures. I'm sure most of us aren't around gorillas every day. I love watching films like this because it really humanizes the animals. The baby gorillas are so similar to babies of our own species. Somehow the bad guys don't get this and want to destroy the very few mountain gorillas that are left.

The documentary gets really intense in parts. Like I said above, I'm sure that's a lot to do with editing, but bravo to the filmmakers. It feels like you're in danger. It feels like the gorillas and their caretakers could be shot at any moment. It makes for an especially sad, hard to watch film. It's obvious that the good guys here are outnumbered. The odds are stacked against them. And unlike the feature film version of this story (if there was one) the good guys are bound to lose. I commend the filmmakers for taking the risks they did. I commend every one of the people trying to make the area a better place. It's this kind of film that can make you question your humanity and apologize for your fellow human.

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