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Critique of War and Peace – a sprawling cinematic essay on the horror images of war | Movies

Since its invention, cinema has played a crucial role in how images of war are created and immortalized in the popular imagination. Divided into four chapters, Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti’s sprawling documentary throws the supposed neutrality of the camera into the air, probing how photography is more than a witness; it can also be an integral part of the war machine.

Restored by film archivists from the ravages of time, shimmering, scratched footage of the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12 relaunches this cinematic odyssey; he also lands at the crisis unit of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ECPAD, the audiovisual branch of the French Ministry of Defence. From a public hanging of Turkish men in Trieste in 1911 to the current unrest in Syria, the horrors of war are front and center, but organizations such as the Crisis Unit or ECPAD are where the images are. dissected with a critical distance. Training courses at ECPAD, for example, analyze photographs for their informative value, instilling in soldiers the importance of creating audio-visual material with military interests in mind.

By covering such a wide range of topics, however, the film seems to lose sight of what it’s trying to accomplish towards the end. The fourth chapter returns to the refrigerated vaults of film archives, emphasizing the value of conservation work. Yet this section also includes various clips of wartime brutality without context. Since previous chapters have struggled to establish the ideology behind the production of such images, this careless insertion of footage tends to defeat the very purpose of the film. By focusing on how audiovisual materials are scrutinized elsewhere, War and Peace neglects to interrogate its own relationship to images of war.

War and Peace is available August 18 on True Story.

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