5 Lessons I Learned From The Movie ‘Beasts Of No Nation’

Netflix original, Beasts of No Nation, is a devastating portrayal of child warfare. Based on an adaptation of the 2005 novel written by Uzodinma Iweala and directed by Cary Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation explores the fictional story of a young Agu’s survival story as he is captured by a menacing warlord. As the story develops, Agu deals with the nightmare reality of being a part of a rebel group terrorizing villages in his country.

According to Ted Sarandos, the head of content acquisition at Netflix, Beasts of No Nation has already garnered more than 3 million views. This is a huge success for Netflix’s streaming audience, in addition to the universal attention that it is already receiving, given that this is the platform’s first fictional release. Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, believes that the film could possibly be a huge contender for the 2016 Oscar as it highlights the sadistic warlord raising havoc in the lives of young children who are vulnerable to becoming prisoners.

While this movie is purely a work of fiction, it projects an emotional experience that pulls at the story of a young boy’s experiences as a prisoner, and highlights a few lessons that in reality, affect young children and their families in many areas around the world.

Beasts

Family support will always be important In spite of his life trajectory, Agu was actually raised in a loving home with two parents, along with a brother and sisters. As a child, it is very important to demonstrate love and admiration to children. Engaging in family related activities such as eating dinner together, homework and playing together helps reinforce confidence and self-esteem in children at an early age and has a positive impact on the way children see themselves as they grow older, no matter what situation they may face. According to the United Conference of Catholic Bishops, children raised in intact married families are more likely to voluntarily attend college, are deemed physically and emotionally healthier, and less likely to to use drugs or alcohol as children raised in homes outside an intact marriage.

Anarchy = War Without government and laws, there is no peace. In history, the American civil war, Cuban revolution, Rwandan genocide, and most recently the Iraqi war are all examples of how the absence of a functioning government leads to mass casualties of innocent lives caught in a political power of civil war. The presence of fear and coercion is widely used by opposing parties to stir up hatred. Unfortunately, millions of  families are separated and displaced due to the political greed of estranged parties.

Child soldiers and other forms of exploitation are a reality Each year, thousands of children are forced to be a part of rebel groups or militia as child soldiers well before the legal age of eighteen. These children are exploited and abused as they participate in wars among various countries. In Beasts of No Nation, Agu was kidnapped and forced to kill innocent victims with a deadly force. It is very common for these child soldiers to use high powered rifles or ammunition while they are trained to kill. They can also be used as sexual victims as well as human shields in the midst of serious civil conflicts.

Sexual molestation is more common than we may think When a child experiences trauma and stress at an early age, it changes the biological function of brain development and may cause flashback nightmares, extreme depression, and dysfunctional social skills. Agu was molested by his “father figure” leader and forced to deal with the effects with Striker (his non speaking friend). As Agu stumbles out of a private meeting after ‘servicing’ his leader, Striker is there to physically hold him and be a support for him. According to research, one in six boys is sexually molested before the age of sixteen. Be aware of the possible symptoms of depression, anger, isolation and withdrawal as well as problems with sexuality. This is a sensitive topic that is explored in the movie and one that can affect thousands of individuals who also have been victims of this abuse.

The tale of survival follows the resolute will to live Many individuals going through adverse negative circumstances are often deemed survivors of hope as they share their  autobiographical stories. From I am Malala, the story of a Pakistani teenager who was brutally shot at gun point by members of the Taliban and lived to become an outspoken female activist to the powerful memoir of Susannah Cahalan, who shares her story of dealing with a rare illness, many stories of survival, will and determination are prevalent. The movie depicts Agu’s escape from being rescued and leaving the threatening leader to walking towards a place of unknown hope.

Shavonda Miles is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA, who enjoys partnering with media outlets to provide quality content. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.