Tuesday, April 26, 2016
SHADOW WORLD (2016) Tribeca 2016
This is an occasionally troubling look at the way things are being done now. The film names names in the corruption and it will anger you. Unless you have been completely blind to the ways of the world you'll have had a hint of the stuff this film reveals but I don't know if you'll have known all the details.
Unfortunately the film seems to be much too literate for its own good and it assumes you have background on some of the scandals mentioned and assumes that you have a working knowledge of the last century of war and war profiteering. While I applaud director Johan Grimonprez assuming he's having a well informed audience, he makes the mistake of realizing most people are not going to be as well informed as he is so the film is hobbled at the start by not having enough explanation for the most people.
Talk of the First World War at the start comes out of nowhere and never connects to anything else, other than to say that there was war profiteering. The next segment on the BAE scandal (where England sold the Saudi's weapons because Reagan didn't want to piss off the Israelis) comes in three beats too soon and you're left wanting to know how we got from the trenches of France in 1914 to Thatcher's England 70 years later? I don't have a clue because there is no context.
The trouble here is not the interviews and facts but the organization which breaks away from true documentary telling and instead drops this into the realm of docu-essay. This isn't surprising coming from Grimonperez, who loves to subvert our expectations, but it also subverts our ability to really take it all in. Like his earlier films especially DIAL H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, you go along with what he is doing for a while but he never fully connects everything up the way it should, There never is a grand "ah ha!" moment. There were just lots of notes to hit up Google so you can get try to link of the bits that have just washed over you.
To be honest I've seen this film two times and I still don't remotely get the film. I understand what he's doing. I mean I know what he's aiming at, I love the segments and its take no prisoner attitude, but to be completely honest I have no clue as to why he added all the dream talk about our lives being made up of stories, the old footage or anything else that isn't straight on modern reporting. Or even why he focuses wholly on the modern scandals when the First World War stuff implies he's casting a wider net then just modern corruption.
This is not a documentary but a head scratching art piece masquerading as a documentary. Or perhaps it's someone trying to made an Adam Curtis film but not having a clue as to how to do it. Curtis does this sort of thing with the greatest of ease and we can follow along. Here we can't.
As it stands now this is an okay film with great pieces where the pieces don't really link up. Worth a shot for those interested but not recommended for anyone not willing to work with it.