War is the most brutal of all conflicts. Within this entity, loved ones, friends and neighbors are lost in a sea of turmoil. South Africa has witnessed such adversity and the new film, THE BANG BANG CLUB, brings a perspective that’s a harsh reality. Ryan Phillipe stars as Greg Marinovich, a photographer, trying to make a career in 1994 apartheid-era South Africa. Marinovich is part of a four man team that endanger their lives daily for the ultimate portrait. Their job is to show the world what is developing within the racial war zone. They constantly shoot into the angered face of an assailant, the life-drained eyes of a victim, and along the blood-stained edge of a machete.
If a picture is worth a thousands words, then these are worth the last thousand you’ll ever speak. I’ve never experienced a film that brought the imagery of racism to the forefront as powerfully. My eyes were visually violated as I saw pain, hate, anger and cries for mercy…all with a still shot. Repeatedly I asked the questions: “Why can such brutality exist within humanity?” “What is it that brings us to this dark place?” I’ve never known the power of a photographer until now. They’re the person you always want in your corner. The impression they can convey to situations can ignite or defuse a flame. What’s most perplexing for me is how pictures can be the blueprints of a story and the foundation history. For it’s within these portraits that we see the absolute truth. THE BANG BANG CLUB gave us a riveting portrayal of how war can illuminate our notions of right or wrong, good or bad, unlawful or unethical.
Director Stephen Silver brought artistic marvel in making the audience experience the impartiality of photographers. Were the members of The Bang Bang Club making profit off the deaths of Africans? Should they have done more to help the South African people? Questions like these will pull at your ethical being and gnaw at your moral code while watching this film. Greg Marinovich and Kevin Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch, both received Pulitzer prizes for their pictures. Their horrid canvases opened the eyes of the world to the perspective of South Africans. Nonetheless, where should the line be drawn between candid portraits and profited fame? THE BANG BANG CLUB is a hidden jewel, only being shown at a few theaters across Seoul, but definitely a film that will make you think…feel….hurt. It is always great to be entertained but sometimes we need a film that stirs great emotion. The camera is the truest of all hunters because it takes the shot without pause, consequence or prejudice. Unlike the human eye a camera has no blind spot. It’s ironic that a photographer can see the picture they are taking, but it’s not until it’s developed that the picture taken is truly seen.
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