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BMZ Review: Fires of Kuwait
By Paula Tagle

 

Fires of Kuwait
Written by: Paula Tagle
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: March 12, 2004

     

Category: Reviews

Nearing the end of the Gulf War, retreating Iraqi troops detonated over 600 of Kuwait's oil wells and left them to burn and devastate Kuwait's desert landscape.  Fires of Kuwait tells the story of the international firefighting effort mounted to extinguish these burning oil wells.  In a perfect marriage of the Big Movie medium and powerful storytelling, Fires of Kuwait expresses the drama, atrocity and heroism found in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

Running at a tight 36 minutes, the film quickly immerses the audience into Kuwait's burning desert.  We learn the fires are so violent that, if left alone, they would burn for 100 years.  Smoke emanating from the oil wells envelopes the sky, leaving a darkened and claustrophobic landscape.  The epic scale of large format film exquisitely presents the havoc of these images, a visual experience perhaps unattainable in a less titanic medium.

The film's true story, however, is that of the firefighting effort launched to contain and eliminate these fires.  From explosives to a repurposed Russian tank used to jet-stream water, the methods in controlling these fires became a testament to the firefighters' ingenuity and extraordinary resolve.  Though heroism in tragedy may appear to be a tired subject, Fires of Kuwait successfully presents a story devoid of pretension and cliché.  Instead, the film boldly documents these fires and their extermination in a way that enthralls, educates and enlightens.

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