With the world where it is today, we all know in our heart of hearts that it’s a matter of time (minutes, probably) before we’re forced to send our children to fight in war against some unknown enemy. Don’t have kids? That’s even worse, because that means YOU will have to do the fighting. Bet you wish you had kids now, no?
No worries. If you don’t have any kids, I’m sure you could pay these lil’ rascals to fight your wars for you.
In honor of the release of Red Dawn on November 21st, here are our six favorite child soldiers from film and television.
As we’ll see, child soldiers are much more a hallmark of less legitimate military forces, often siding with warlords and cartels, rather than state-run armies and forces. Perhaps the most notable example is Dia, who plays the son of Djimon Hounsou’s character in Blood Diamond, a fictionalization of accounts from war-torn Sierra Leone.
The heartbreaking result is a child so brainwashed by his captors/army that he forgets his allegiance and relationship with his father. The outcome is positive, but not without a whole hell of a lot of tension and drama on both ends of the father-son relationship.
In a backstory similar to that of Dia in Blood Diamond, we find out Mr. Eko’s origin as a warlord in Lost as he does the big brotherly thing and steps in for his younger sibling. Here too, we are forced to draw the line between “soldier” and “thug,” but it’s clear enough that if you’re going into battle, legitimate or otherwise, you’d probably want Young Mr. Eko on your side.
I mean, look at him!
I understand that including a 1984 Patrick Swayze character is stretching the definition of the word “child,” but this isn’t a deep well to draw from, so I’ll take the boy who quickly elevates to “man” status after the Russians come into the sleepy mountain town.
Jed proves to be something of a badass leader of Red Dawn’s Wolverines, doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of strategy, procurement, hunting, and camping. Without Jed, the Wolverines probably still would have existed, but with a lot less efficacy.
Luc Besson didn’t pull any punches when he crafted this depiction of Joan of Arc. Rather than show her in a hazy, soft-focus Barbera Walters-light, ole’ Luc gave Joan the Braveheart treatment from beginning to end, offering her as a truly divine weapon of her countrymen against the barbaric English.
Things don’t turn out so great for Joan, but she’s able to leave a trail of death and destruction before her demise, her young age making her feats all the more impressive. Getting bested by a teenage girl, especially if you’re a 15th century soldier, is pretty humiliating, but when the foe at hand is this badass played by Milla Jovovich, it’s pretty understandable.
On a list of children being co-opted for paramilitary uses, it’s a little hard to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. And while a civilian Viet Cong sniper doesn’t fall under many people’s idea of “good guys,” when you see who the invisible enemy is, it’s hard not to take a step back and just hate everyone at that moment.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching scene on this list falls when the U.S. Marines come across their enemy in an abandoned building and forced to determine where they go from there. We never learn her name, or anything about her, other than the fact that when children are involved in these war games, it’s a little murkier than it would be with grown-up soldiers.
If you tell me that you never daydreamed during class, wondering what course of action your sixth-grade self would take should terrorists take over your school (And why wouldn’t you, your school SUCKS!) then you are a damn liar and don’t deserve this list.
They’re not soldiers in the truest sense, but a whole gaggle of prep school kids sure do manage to raise hell for the violent intruders who attempt to impose their will on a bunch of tweens. Who do they think they are, parents or something?