Filmmaker Jonathan Hacker has created a powerful documentary with Path of Blood. The film is thought-provoking and disturbing.
In the Saudi Arabian desert, young men sign up to the cause of Islamic extremism. Al Qaeda plot to overthrow the Saudi government, with these new recruits being trained as fighters and martyrs…
Directed by Jonathan Hacker, Path of Blood is based on Hacker’s book of the same title. The film is not a traditional documentary in that there are no talking heads or obvious editorialising. Instead, the film focuses on the home video footage found by the Saudi security forces. This includes footage from the training camps, and outtakes from video messages from the terrorist group.
The film tells the story of the sect’s attempt to overthrow the government through a series of attacks on foreign-owned sites and government buildings. Taking place post-9/11, the groups attempt was to destabilise the government. Amidst this very serious mission, a couple of themes become clear.
Firstly, the age and mentality of the recruits is glaring. These young men have signed up to the cause of radical Islam, yet some at least do not to seem to know much about their religion. Certainly not enough to effectively debate their position. Secondly, unlike so much of the Islamic extremism focussed upon in the Western world, Path of Blood shows the muslim victims of this terrorism, and the muslim forces that combat the group.
Path of Blood is grimly humorous at times, with the outtake footage proving a stark contrast to the group’s message. Hacker succeeds in keeping proceedings as objective as possible. The film is difficult to watch at times, thanks to the brutality and violence depicted in the footage. The film, much like the conflict, gives an unsettling conclusion. Path of Blood is sometimes shocking, but important viewing.