Airing on HBO a little more than a year after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, “Escape From Kabul” presents a detailed account of the chaotic evacuation at the Kabul airport in August 2021. Directed by Jamie Roberts, whose “Four Hours at the Capitol” premiered just nine months after the Capitol riot, “Escape From Kabul” in some ways feels more like a lengthy news segment than a feature documentary.
The stories — and types of footage — will be familiar to anyone who sat glued to the television that August. We hear from Marines who were at the airport; from Afghans who got out and who didn’t; and from Taliban members who moved on Kabul. At least one acts surprised that women and children might be terrified of their arrival.
There is talk of the crushing size of the crowds and the squalid conditions at the airport. Lt. Col. Christopher R. Richardella describes logistical difficulties at various stages. Staff Sgt. Maria G. Solis explains how eerily normal it became for American troops to be passed babies by women trying to escape. Afghans like Hasina Safi, then the country’s acting minister for women’s affairs, and Malalai Hussainy, a first-year university student at the time, discuss their fears of brutality and a lack of education for women under Taliban leadership.
The movie lays out a clear timeline and is good at conveying the conflicted feelings that Afghans had about leaving their homes and that American troops had as they tried to maintain control of the situation. Still, “Escape From Kabul” is a short-term recap. A more robust movie, following these witnesses over several years, is still waiting to be made.
Escape From Kabul
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 17 minutes. Watch on HBO platforms.
Source: NY Times