The first few steps of Al – Qaeda is presented through archive footage revealing the grouping, training, outtakes, and aftermath – this provides an intimate portrait of a terrorist group, inspired by Bin Laden, that most are only familiar with due to news reporting. Although before they were globally infamous, they were simply a collective of young men with an overly ambitious goal.
The film follows a non-linear timeline, jumping back and forth from footage of the groups slap-dash but effective preparation, to the devastation amidst the pursuit to imprison them.
Path of Blood is a perfect title as it both introduces the viewer to the documentary’s violent and gory content as well as describing the path these men are taking which is a literal one covered in blood; that blood belonging to both themselves and those affected by their ambitions. This path they believe leads them to paradise, 72 virgins and the honour for having fought and sacrificed your life for your religion.
Amongst the graphic footage, there are moments that show the terrorists as human, joking around and messing up their lines during the shoot of the propaganda content. This is crucial due to the constructed persona they have in their propaganda which is only strengthened by the sharing of this through various news outlets.
Jonathan Hacker’s (Spies Beneath Berlin) decision to include this prevents his documentary from taking the route of fear-mongering and presents the piece as a way of beginning to understand these men.
As it’s solely archive footage it couldn’t achieve a higher sense of realism and as the viewer is witness to the group’s chaotic rise, the events sink further into their skin.
Hacker’s approach closes the distance the public has had with terrorism – which is simply an emotionally motivated shun – and provided a balanced perspective. Path of Blood (2018) is a piece that’s hard to swallow but necessary to digest as it smacks the ignorance out of its viewers.
Dir: Jonathan Hacker
Scr: Jonathan Hacker
Prd: Jonathan Hacker & Mark Boal
Music: Chad Hobson
Path of Blood (2018) will reach UK cinemas on the 13th of July 2018