In Case You Missed It Film Review Series: “War Photographer”

With the recent murders of foreign correspondents James Foley and Steven Sotloff we are reminded the danger war correspondents accept in their determination to report on wars and conflicts and in so doing share the suffering these bring to so many. I have reposted a review of a film that captures the heart of those who risk their lives to tell these important stories.

Watch “war photographer” trailer here. DVD’s may be purchased through Amazon or First Run Features.com

“war photograper” is a powerful 2001 film that takes viewers on a journey into the belly of hate and cruelty that are war and extreme poverty zones. James Nachtwey is perhaps the most influential war photographer of his generation. With a 25 plus year career documenting the effects of conflicts throughout the world, Nachtwey is the Lou Gehrig of war photographers, the “iron horse” in a profession known for high burnout and casualty rates. From Palestine to Kosovo, to Indonesia to Ground Zero, James Nachtwey has captured the images, and reality of human suffering, cruelty, and tragedy inflicted upon persons by rulers and warlords who bid others to do their fighting. The overwhelming majority of these victims are innocent men women and children.

Watching this quiet Academy Award nominated film directed by Christian Frei, one cannot help but see Nachtwey as someone called to his profession. Nachtwey has given up much in his life so that the story of persons, hurt by the greed of others through combat or poverty could be told. He has put his life on the line time after time so that the suffering of others would not be in vain and that other people would know the full measure of what, thousands of miles away, may be but a headline. For the people Nachtwey documents, there are no partisan arguments based on right or left ideologies, only consequences and suffering. In the world captured in Nachtwey’s cameras, policies are not things to be debated; they mean and bring life or death, abandonment and suffering, and rescue or refugee camps. This film, and Nachtwey’s pictures dare persons not to put aside political and personal ideology in the name of doing what is right, and for that reason alone, this is an important film to watch and share.

Nachtwey’s dedication to his vocational call challenges Christians to remember and examine their avocational calling into ministry.  What is our commitment to Christ’s call to serve Him by serving others?  Is our passion and commitment to our discipleship and ministry calling comparable to the calling of Nachtwey and other war correspondents to inform the world to the suffering of others?  Are today’s disciples willing to minister even when that ministry requires true sacrifices of time, talent, comfort or worldly wealth?  War correspondence and photo-journalism is not a career of convenience, and neither is the calling to discipleship and ministry. 

James Nachtwey’s story is powerful because it is a story of someone who discerned his gifts and purpose, and then gave of himself completely in using those gifts to pursue excellence in fulfilling his purpose. Christians are expected to respond to the calling of Christ in the same manner, using the abilities and resources with which God blessed us without reservation.

In viewing this film it is quickly understood that atrocities cannot be fully captured and communicated through words. To be fully comprehended they must be experienced, if not in person in pictures. While this film is anything but easy viewing or escapism, through watching it one can be informed of what is happening to other persons and families throughout the world and apply pressure to stop such hatred fueled suffering. Also, the film allows viewers to vicariously be present with, and prayerfully supportive of, the subjects of this film and those currently suffering in other war and poverty torn areas. Lastly, viewers of the film will be beyond grateful that they and their loved ones, and the vast majority of persons in their life circles will never have to live in such atrocity, poverty, fear and anguish.

James Nachtwey’s Acceptance of his 2007 TED Award

James Nachtwey’s Website and Gallery
http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/

Note* While I recommend this film, I also highly recommend all persons, especially ones who love or appreciate film to make efforts to watch documentaries.  These are perhaps the most important yet underappreciated of all films

About revkennydickson

I am a United Methodist minister and my professional passion is connecting issues of life and faith to film and other artforms. I am also interested in autism awareness and ministry and special needs. I am married to Michelle and have two children.
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