In the same way that Vietnam war movies are now movies about other Vietnam war movies, rather than movies about the war itself, Fukunaga’s is ultimately a comment on genre, whether it knows it or not.
Midway through the first decade of the 21st century — a few years after Taylor was forced from power in 2003 — the child-soldier narrative had its moment in Anglophone literature.
By the time Kourouma’s (2007) were all written and published in close succession, and together they consolidated the core of the genre as we know it today.
In 2003 he traveled to New Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Liberian border to research an original screenplay, which he struggled to finish and ultimately scrapped in favor of adapting Iweala’s novel.
Perhaps he needed distance from his subject: for a genre so often predicated on authentic experience presented in disorienting close-up, distance has always been crucial to the child-soldier narrative.