Innocent Voices — Directed by Luis Mandoki, written by Luis Mandoki and Oscar Orlando Torres. Based on a true story. In Spanish with English subtitles.
BB Entertainment, running time 120 minutes, Rated R (for disturbing violence and language)
In El Salvador in the 1980s, little boys worried about girls, school, playtime and turning 12. On their 12th birthday, they expected the soldiers to come and take them away.
There were other problems, of course. Little Chava tried to help his mother through their terrible poverty. He had chores and responsibilities. For example, he pulled the mattress over the younger children when machine gun bullets whizzed through their tiny makeshift house at night. The next morning, he might have to politely step around dead bodies in the roads of his village.
Chava had to remember to play his little portable radio very low and to make sure that the soldiers never heard any banned music. If the cheerful American soldiers, who had come to teach the methodology of death, gave him one of their little personal gifts, he had to remember to get rid of it, whether or not he understood why.
Chava also had to worry about relatives and friends who were fighting with the peasants against the army and their //anglo// allies.
Other than those things and a few other inconveniences, little Chava was leading the same life as any other darling little boy. But Chava was nearly 12.
“Innocent Voices,” a gruesome story of war as seen and experienced by young boys, is probably the best war movie I have ever seen.