Monday, 18 February 2013


Some films linger in your conscience with images that you can’t get out of your head. Watching a lifetime of news broadcast seems to have hardened me against the images of war, the bloody bodies lying indiscriminately in the dirt like discarded rag dolls or as part of some bombed out vehicle shell. From time to time we even get to see some poor sole executed in the name of some cause or religion. But what I can never get used to is the images of children dying of starvation or disease caught in the cross fire of some one else’s war. Most of 77 year old Don McCullin’s professional life has been photographing this type of image mainly he says to point out the insanity of war and mans inhumanity. Listening to him in the documentary McCullin (2012), about his life and work, it has indeed taken its toll, the agony is etched into the lines seen on his face.
From the Berlin wall  to ......

to a 23 year old mother feeding her child.

Jacqui and David Morris’s documentary invites McCullin to talk direct to the camera, a thing he does with great honesty talking about how he became disgusted with what he was asked to record through his lens but at the same time admitting his addiction to the drama of conflict, stating at one time that a war a year was not enough to sustain this obsession.

Crouching in doorways in  Northern Ireland 
"Christ on the cross" image in Vietnam

Donald McCullin was born in Finsbury Park in London, an area I know very well having lived there when I first got married in 1968. It was here in 1959 that he took pictures of his Teddy Boy friends and they were subsequently published in The Observer. But it was the work he did for the Sunday Times Magazine up until 1984 that made him a celebrity, even appearing on the BBC’s Parkinson show, part of which is incorporated in the documentary. The conflicts that he covered included Cyprus (1964), the Congo (1965), Vietnam (1968-72) Biafra (1969), Northern Ireland (1971) and Lebanon (1976/82). He also did some great work highlighting social deprivation in London all under the editorship of Sir Harold Evans who is also interviewed in the film. Both men left the Sunday Times when Rupert Murdoch purchased the paper and weakened its editorial stance.
Women knowing there about to die in Lebanon.

After throwing his grenade this soldier had his hand blasted by a sniper.

I could go on and tell you about the political reasons why McCullin was not allowed to go the Falkland’s to record Thatcher’s electoral campaign but instead I would suggest that you make a real effort to see this somewhat harrowing movie because I can assure you it will be amongst the most riveting and moving documentary’s that your likely to ever have the privilege of watching. Released on DVD on the 25th February 2013.

Nearer home.

The disappearing  British landscape.

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