Beasts of No Nation, the intense story of a child soldier in an unnamed West African country, promises to be a bold and emotional ride.
Beasts of No Nation is the first original feature for Netflix. The online movie streaming company will begin streaming it on Oct. 16.
Directed by Cary Fukunaga, the movie follows a young boy named Agu who is played by 15-year-old Abraham Attah, who is not a professional actor. The director and his team found Abraham while casting locals in Ghana for the film. Agu’s village is overrun by rebel fighters. Idris Elba plays a charismatic but ruthless leader of an opposing ragtag militia that takes the boy in and teaches him what it takes to be a soldier and to kill in cold blood. At the start, Agu is an innocent child but that innocence loses the battle to cigarettes, guns and the thrill of the kill.
Uzodinma Iweala is the master wordsmith behind Beats of no Nation. The novel is about an African boy named Agu, who is forced to become a child soldier. His family lived in a small village. When war came, Agu’s mother and sister had to leave on a bus but Agu, his father, and a shoesman try to escape and Agu’s father is shot down and killed. Agu hides and is soon found by soldiers, who coerce him to join their rebel force.
Farewell to childhood
In a bloody initiation, the commander forces him to kill an unarmed soldier. His childhood is now a distant memory. All of his family, his love of reading and school. The dream of becoming an important doctor, and how he used to read the Bible every day. The war now is not the same as the war he played with his friends. He fears that God hates him for killing others. Despite this he soon forces himself to believe that this is what God wants because “he is soldier and this is what soldiers do in war.” He befriends a mute boy named Strika. Together they face the crimes and hardships of war: looting, rape, killing, and starvation.
Beasts of No Nation has a few explosive battles but Mr. Fukunaga says he had to drop some big set pieces for budgetary reasons. His characteristic look is evident, though: the camera moving into the midst of a violent situation as well as editing that uses close-ups to dramatic effect. Asked if he would have shot the film differently had he known it was going to Netflix, he says no. He did, however, insist that Netflix include theatrical distribution in the deal. “I only wish it was going to be in more territories,” he says.