It can be easy to become desensitized to the reality of warfare considering most of us don't actually know what the reality of it is. We haven't been in the trenches fearing for our lives. We haven't had to make the choice to either kill or be killed. We haven't had to watch people we care about dying around us.

Our view of war has largely been shaped by the media - through history books, documentaries, and newscasts, but reading about the number of casualties on paper or seeing montage footage of tanks and fighter planes doesn't really convey the grim fact that those are not just nameless, faceless masses that are marching, fighting and dying out there. The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is just a statistic, as they say. But the reality is that every one of those millions of people is an individual - a fellow human being thrust into the middle of mindless horror and chaos. Imagine how you'd feel being on a battlefield, and then think of the fact that war is just millions of people like you faced with that same feeling of horror; it's easy to picture what war might actually be like.

It's perhaps not surprising that most fiction dealing with war doesn't approach it as something of faceless masses, but of individuals and people. In fiction, to care about the story being told you usually need characters to care about as well, which means intimacy can pay off handsomely, even if the scale of the events being portrayed is grand. And this potential for intimacy is why fiction can be a great tool in getting across the horrors of warfare. Creating likable, relatable characters and then putting them in an engaging story allows us to move away from the overview of newscasts and documentaries with talking heads recounting events to you, and closer to the ground level, right where regular people that you connect with and care about are suffering.

This is what the short film A Soldier's War in parts tries to get across. I mean, it's in the title - when wars are fought, the ones fighting are not nations or ideologies, but soldiers. And each of them has their own experience of the war they're fighting in. In A Soldier's War, we see a group of soldiers ambushed by the enemy, and only two men seemingly survive. As the other struggles to stay alive, his companion's greatest concern is getting him out of the woods alive.

When a lot of imagery related to war is populated by large armies with immense machines, A Soldier's War pulls everything back - a few people in the woods dealing with intense suffering and loss. In war, where the object is to kill your fellow man, we see a soldier desperately trying to save his friend. But in the end, even this act of kindness is warped into something ugly, as he brutalizes an enemy soldier out of anger for what happened to his friend. His feelings of empathy and care have been made selective, and by the time the short is over, no one comes out any better for what has transpired. Because in war, there are no winners.