Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Redemption of General Butt Naked (2011)

Daniele Anastasion, Eric Strauss


Between 1989 and 2003, the African nation of Liberia was caught up in civil war, and one of the most feared insurgent leaders during the war was Joshua Milton Blahyi. A tribal priest in his younger days, Blahyi became a warlord known as "General Butt Naked" for his habit of going into battle nude except for boots and a rifle or sword, convinced his naked body would give him a cloak of invincibility while striking fear into his enemies. Leading an army largely consisting of kidnapped child soldiers, Blahyi claims to have be responsible for the death of 20,000 men, women and children, and says he practiced devil worship and committed human and animal sacrifices before taking the battlefield. With Liberia still struggling with the scars of war, Blahyi has renounced his violent past and returned to the pulpit, preaching the word of God and attempting to atone for his monstrous deeds. But while some support Blahyi's new crusade, others question the sincerity of his new guise as a man of peace. Filmmaker Eric Strauss studies the past and present of a man of tremendous contrasts in the documentary The Redemption of General Butt Naked, which was an official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.


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