Content Note: fascism, abuse
Jasmin and Jastrip are both looking forward to summer camp. Only their summer camp is a very special one: Azovez camp is organized by a nationalistic militita group that has been instrumental for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. And the camp is there to raise the next generation of patriots and soldiers.
Sommerkrieg gave me chills. It not only wonders why children would want to go to a war camp with military drills, it’s also a matter of fact depiction of right-wing extremists brainwashing children.
The two children who are the protagonists of the film were extremely well chosen in their differences. Jasmin loves the camp and goes back there every year because she wants to – her loving and supporting parents indulge her there, although they don’t necessarily understand what she gets out of it (the audience, though,can deduce that she simply loves the power she gets there – power by wielding a weapon and conquering her own physique, but also power by becoming a group leader).
With Jastrip, on the other hand, you don’t get the feeling that he particularly loves the camp, though he plays the role of soldier very well. But his family simply has no interest in having him around all summer, so he gets dropped off at camp. And for him – at least he finds community there.
These are probably the two main reasons why people turn to such military groups and seeing it boiled down that way was extremely interesting – and also very chilling.
Because ultimately what we see here is no innocent, fun camp, it’s militia training with children. And it is very easy to see quite a few nazi symbols in the camp – like the Black Sun. And the children mention “the rune of racial purity” (I assume it’s Odal), although immediately catching themselves – obviously they were instructed not to say anything about this with the cameras present.
Having only recently seen Return to Epipo, it was interesting to compare those two summer camps – and the similarities were striking. Both are built on strict hierarchies, playing war games that are surprisingly serious and humiliating punishments. Fascism and abuse are very much intertwined I guess. At the very least, both mercilessly use children – as we can plainly see here.
Summarizing: very well done and scary as fuck.