We’re never, for the rest of our life, not going to be in a war
IALMOST don’t know where to start with this film. It’s by John Pilger, he wrote it, directed it, produced it, did everything, the way he always does. He’s 72 this year, and I only mention that because I love that he can still be bothered. Not that he doesn’t look like he shouldn’t be engaged in something full-on. Such as being a roadie for Motorhead. I mean, that hair. Fantastic.
This documentary is gripping on two fronts: what it says, and how it says it. It doesn’t really contain anything new, or it won’t for the crowd that’s likely to watch it, but what Pilger does is ask, again, why did — does — the media so meekly accept the PR line from the US war machine? And by the US war machine he includes in that Britain and Israel. And obviously the UN.
The way Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories is covered on the BBC seems, at best, disturbing, just from the one story he pulls out here to use as an example. Can it actually be possible that the Israeli embassy might make a phone call to the director-general of the BBC over which words a journalist can use on air?
Pilger has a pretty long sitdown with BBC’s head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth, who is just carpeted. The BBC comes off sounding like a government photocopier.
He also speaks to David Mannion, the editor-in-chief of ITV news. He’s clearly a bit over the realities of getting a bulletin out day after day, but I would say more of a news person than Unsworth. Pilger leaves him nowhere to go either.
In blasting them, and others, over the old ‘‘ weapons of mass destruction’’ claims that helped get us where we are now, and in getting into the perils of reporting the war as an ‘‘ embedded’’ journalist, he deftly brings in other conflicts, starting at WWI, and the exponential rise since of public relations as not only a means of managing the facts but as a replacement for the facts. But a couple of journalists come out of it looking all right. Apart from John Pilger.
They must’ve had a long period of self-flagellation, by the look of it.
Julian Assange makes a cameo. It’s his long white hair period, which I prefer, though what I really would’ve pre- ferred is if he’d done all his leaking anonymously.
The 2007 footage of the Apache gunship attack in Baghdad that WikiLeaks was the first to release (under Collateral Murder) in April last year, is partly shown here, and it’s just shocking.
The War You Don’t See is a dazzling film. As far as I’m concerned, Pilger is still a relevant journalist. And we’re never, for the rest of our life, not going to be in a war.
Fantastic hair: writer/ director/ producer John Pilger.