The Redemption of General Butt Naked
Eric Strauss & Daniele Anastasion
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Joshua Milton Blahyi – aka General Butt Naked – was a ruthless and feared warlord during Liberia’s 14-year civil war. Today, he has renounced his violent past and reinvented himself as a Christian evangelist on a journey of self-proclaimed transformation. Blahyi travels the nation of Liberia as a preacher, seeking out those he once victimized in search of an uncertain forgiveness. But in the end, are some crimes beyond the pale of forgiveness? Dubbed “General Butt Naked” for fighting with nothing more than an AK-47 and a pair of leather shoes, Blahyi believed he possessed supernatural powers that made him impervious to bullets. The General and his army of child soldiers are said to have killed thousands during Liberia’s horrific civil war. Following a dramatic conversion to Christianity, the General abruptly laid down his weapons in 1996, leaving behind his soldiers, his country and a war that would rage for another seven years. Today, Blahyi is on a quest for redemption: facing those he once terrorized, preaching where he once murdered, and trying to rebuild the shattered lives of those he commanded during the war. For five years, filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion tracked his often troubling path up-close, finding both the genuine and disconcerting in Blahyi’s efforts. The film forces us to question the very nature of what true, meaningful reconciliation looks like in a country where justice has not been available. At every turn, THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED challenges viewers to confront hard questions about both the power and limits of forgiveness in a nation searching for healing and justice. Whatever you make of him – liar or madman, charlatan or genuine repentant – you will never meet another character as challenging as Joshua Milton Blahyi, General Butt Naked.
Good movie title, but I find it disturbing that the film makers help celebritize an admitted mass murderer and obvious psychopath, giving Joshua Milton Blahyi a platform and many opportunities to once again terrorize Liberian citizens. The interviews were staged and contrived, citizens obviously terrified to be standing next to the man who murdered their families, brutalized them, or kidnapped them and turned them into child soldiers. Blahyi admitted to being responsible for the death of as many as 20,000 people and yet the documentary barely shows evidence of the horror he inflicted. Watching him prosthelytize to his victims from the pulpit is truly horrifying. I feel like Blahyi was manipulating the filmmakers as well as his victims with his charismatic and dominating personality. All of the victims interviewed in the film forgive him or act as if they forgive him. Where are the ones who don't?
This was such an incredible documentary! What a thought provoking film. I was really impressed.
Fascinating and unsettling.
A great documentary that presents its fascinating subject in a nonjudgmental way that nevertheless is a deeply unsettling story about the nature of evil and our ideas of redemption.