Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The war photographer, My soul will never be the same again.

Sometimes I wonder what drives man to do horrible things to others in the most despicable manners one can imagine. Is it pure hatred? Blind zealotry? Or maybe just for the kicks? There have always been conflicts throughout the world. Wars are no longer waged between nation against nation, but people against people. Religion wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing and ancient feuds are more common these days than you can imagine. Angry mobs with machete and pointy sticks hacking a helpless man to death, fathers executed right in front of their kids and the list goes on. These are only a few. War journalism is as dangerous as being in the front lines of war. Only a few who are brave enough to risk their life just to capture the madness and share it with the world.

Being in the midst of the chaos, armed with determination, bravery, a camera, and perhaps luck, is not an easy way to make a living. James Natchwey, is a living legend. The greatest war photographer ever, claimed by many. The documentary film war photographer pretty much describes the journey of this great photographer trough some of the most hostile countries with his colleagues and documents the dark side of the human civilizations. The 90 minutes documentary consists of footages, which some I admit are very disturbing, still images, and interviews. It came out in 2001, and ten years later, I discovered this gem through the movie “The bang bang club” which is a re-enactment movie about a group of young war photographers in Africa.

The most interesting point of this documentary is the interview footage, especially from James’ closest colleagues and friends’ point of view. According to Christiane Breustedt, James’ ex lover and the editor in chief of GEO SAISON magazine, the man is a tough bloke and knows no boundaries in his career. There are no limits. Another colleague, the chief international correspondent of CNN, Christiane Amanpour, stated that James is mystery man. She never could understand what makes him tick to the extent that he takes and a loner.

Some of the footages are real life experiences of James and his team facing life threatening situations. The most intense scene for me probably the clash between Palestine civilians and the Israeli armed forces. The brave legend was sitting right in the middle of the chaos, capturing the hellish battle with his camera. There’s one segment of the documentary, which covers the poverty in Jakarta. He focused on one particular family, living nearby a railroad, with cardboards boxes as mattresses. The head of the family is a crippled father with only one arm and one leg, married to a woman with four children.

I was watching this segment with watery eyes. It was the most depressing video footage I ever watched. It changed me. I’ve been complaining my whole life about the imperfections and how it’s not going as I expected. But after watching this, the strength of this crippled man who manages to hold his family together, having some quality time with his family, being able to laugh and play and how they move on despite the lack of proper home and education for their children. Uplifting example of the adversity the human soul can face while still maintaining hope.

This amazing documentary movie shouldn’t be missed. It pretty much changed my life and how I look at human society and civilization. There’s so much to change.

WARNING: some of the footage and still images are very disturbing. Watch them at your own risk.

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