Saturday, 7 May 2011

Movie: The Bang Bang Club (2010)

Rating: C+

(Originally premiered for TIFF 2010, but wide release 2011) Through the news, photos, documentaries, and even movies, we're told time and time again of the destruction, tragedy, and conflict that people get into. Too rarely however, are we told the stories of the people that gave us that footage in the first place.

We've seen many of the Pulitzer winning photos in newspapers, magazines, and classes. But have you ever stopped to think about what the person behind the camera was thinking at the time? Why they took that photo and how they got themselves in to that particular spot at that particular time?

The Bang Bang Club is more of a dramatised documentary than move, but it nonetheless tells the story of a group of 4 young men in South Africa in the years leading up to the 1994 elections that freed South Africa from Apartheid. Because of this, the camera work really takes a while getting used to. And in the beginning, I found it fairly distracting to the film. As the story progressed however, it didn't seem to be as much of a problem. While the movie tells the story about The Bang Bang Club, they gloss over the demons that they fought within themselves. You really have to dig for yourself to get inside the photographers' psyches. But if they'd done that, the movie would have had to have been 4x as long. So while the movie glosses over most situations, it does still does the job in giving you a glimpse of who the photographers were. And I like that they didn't over-dramatise the movie, JUST for effect. It helped to keep the story of these four photographers somewhat authentic.

What remained a problem, is the lacklustre performances from both Ryan Phillippe and Malin Akerman. Oddly, it was Taylor Kitsch that stood out. But if you're a photographer, or a fan of photography, I nevertheless think this movie deserves a once over if for the simple reason to better appreciate the job of those conflict photographers who put their lives in harm's way so that you and I can understand the conflict better.


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