A terribly moving doc containing very explicit and upsetting images of injured and mutilated children, “Clown in’ Kabul” is a record of the February 2002 trip to Afghanistan of 21 international clown-doctors and plain clowns who participated in the mission “A Road to Peace.” Lead by Hunter “Patch” Adams, the outspoken doctor-clown made famous in the film with Robin Williams, these humanitarian souls bring smiles and laughter to the small victims of war in the hospitals and streets of Kabul. An initiative of the city of Rome (the mayor appears with Adams in opening scenes) whose proceeds are earmarked for Emergency and Doctors Without Borders, it should make great television.
With their red noses and colorful costumes, the playful clowns are a wild contrast to the dusty, earth-colored city and monochrome populace. The most arresting scenes, often painful to watch, take place in a children’s hospital, where clowns distract suffering kids with their antics. Judging from the Afghans’ delight, the mission was an unqualified success. The subject is so strong, it speaks with a louder voice than the standard DigiBeta camerawork and editing, and Nicola Piovani’s unrelated music.