Eagles of Death Metal Revisit the Paris Attacks

By Kinder Labatt, Contributing Writer

Directing a film that reflects a dreadful terrorist attack in an equally hopeful and refreshing manner has been proven to be a difficult task, yet Colin Hanks has done just that. Still new to the director’s chair, Hank’s sophomore documentary, “Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis,” recounts the horrifying acts of terrorism in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. Amongst the 130 lives that were taken that day, 89 of the victims were rock-and-roll fans attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert in the Bataclan Theater. The dreadful attack and its emotional impact are the subject of the upcoming documentary, available on HBO on Feb. 13, as it explores the band’s return to a Paris stage three months later.

Hank’s documentary introduces Eagles of Death Metal as one does with most rock bands — by accounting for passion, vanity and their rise to fame. The HBO documentary begins by exploring the friendship of Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, the founding members of the band, which ultimately proves to be a result of Hughes’ inability to defend himself at a high school party. Hughes’ frustrations with his former self resonate throughout the entirety of the film and ultimately foreshadows the emotional toll the terrorist attacks will have on the band’s lead singer.

“Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis” recalls the unfortunate night through archival footage, but ultimately depends on testimonies from the band and their loyal fans that witnessed a night of rock-and-roll gone wrong. Throughout the numerous interviews, it is evident that the musicians are plagued by anxiety and survivor’s guilt. Yet throughout the tears and dread rises a great sense of hope and responsibility as the band returns to perform in the city that nearly broke them.

The documentary has the potential to raise an important message regarding gun control, with French interviewer Laurence Ferrari asking Hughes how his thoughts on firearm legislations have changed since the tragedy. However, this potential is weakened as the singer asserts that French gun control laws did not save the victims on that frightening evening.

“I hate it that it’s this way…until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them.”

Considering the extent in which guns played a role in the heartbreaking and horrifying Nov. evening, as well as countless other acts of domestic and international terrorism across the globe, it is disappointing that Hanks did not chose to further explore the importance of gun control. Rather than focusing on politics and guns, the documentary takes interest in the band’s recovery and ultimate will to keep their fans united. While it is important that a subject matter of this intensity be accompanied by hope and positivity, remaining apolitical in such a politically charged time is unsatisfying and frankly irresponsible.

While the film is weakened by its dismissal of gun control, it is redeemed in its reflection on the horrific night, which Hanks presents in a tasteful and respectful manner. The film is equally emotional and inspiring as it spreads an important message of love and strength. The captivating documentary ultimately serves to recognize the healing influence of music, support and community as it empowers “survivors everywhere who continue to believe in peace, hope and unity.”

Email Kinder Labatt at film@nyunews.com.

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