13 February 2010

Film Review: War Photographer, by Christian Frei, *****

An Oscar nominee for best documentary, 'War Photographer' was directed by Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei, who followed Nachtwey, who for many is the greatest war photographer of his generation, to Kosovo, Palestine and Indonesia.

We see the photographer in combat zones and pockets of horrific poverty, approaching his subjects slowly, with a hand raised in peace. After 20 years of covering war, poverty and famine Nachtwey still sees his work as an antidote to war and his photographs as a graphic 'negotiation for peace.'

Christian Frei is never in want of original ideas for his films. Here he mounts mini movie cameras on Hachtwey's photo cameras and shows us the world's tragedies as Jim himself saw them. From war theaters in Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Somalia (hence the title) to poverty and gruesome mines in Indonesia, Jim has seen it all. His goal: to make people around the world aware of the horrors of war so as to build up forces to prevent this tragedy from happening again. A bit idealistic perhaps, but he puts immensely powerful images behind this goal.

Jim took all black and white pictures, and some scenes of this documentary are shot back home in NY and show Jim working with his assistants in the darkroom (this is predigital) to make perfect prints of his negatives.

You might want to buy his superlative photography book on the wars of the 1990s. It is a big, heavy and expensive book but worth every cent you pay for it.

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