We’re never, for the rest of our life, not go­ing to be in a war

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Weekly Preview -

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.

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