The Redemption of General Butt Naked (2011) MIFF Film Review


Could you forgive a man who raped you, or chopped off your legs, or blinded your baby in one eye? Could you forgive a man who recruited and used child soldiers in his battle, and many years later, can calmly recall the structure of training to make them unafraid to kill?

It is a difficult concept – that fifteen years after leading a group of rebels fighting in Liberia to overthrow the government, he returns, a Christian minister, to redeem himself. This is not just any rebel, either, this man who was known as General Butt Naked. This was because he and his followers would fight naked, believing that naked, they were impervious to bullets. When people throughout Liberia saw naked men running toward them, they knew to be afraid, for these soldiers were the most vicious.

The documentary not only covers the past, but also follows the General as he visits his former victims to apologise and obtain forgiveness. This is difficult to watch for many different reasons, not just because of the emotion it brings up. He is a very charismatic man, and also quite a bully, and it sometimes feels that the people were almost forced to say them forgive him, perhaps against their will. They were not threatened, but kind of hounded.

I found this documentary to be absolutely fascinating and it raises a lot of questions about how would you react in this situation. Could you forgive him?

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