If you have a chance, please watch the video below. It’s a documentary about the life and work of a war photographer, James Nachtwey.
I have always admired, deeply admired, those men and women who put themselves, their souls and their sanity, into the palm of Death himself to bring us shattered fragments of Mankind’s brutality, to bring us face to face with ourselves.
Photographers like Dickie Chapelle, David Douglas Duncan, Robert Capa, Eddie Adams, Nick Ut, Larry Burrows, Kevin Carter and so many many more. Many of these men and women are frequently killed in the act of harvesting those brutal, chilling and horrid fractions of time.
Some of them, like Kevin Carter (Vulture and Child, Pulitzer Prize, 1994), haunted and unable to escape the images seared into their souls, images that haunt their every waking moment, that taunt their every moment of silence, seek refuge in the silence of death and take their own lives.
And then, amongst the stills, the black and white moments in time, come those who tell our story through film. One of my favourite documentaries is Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo, a joint production of Frontline PBS, the CBC and the National Film Board of Canada. Its a story of two young lovers, a Bosnian Serb and Muslim, who were cut down in a sniper cross-fire and whose bodies lay arm in arm for days until a cease fire allowed their recovery. If you ever get a chance to watch it please do……its life changing.
I wrote a small piece, below, that touches on both Romeo and Juliet as well as the life’s work of war photographers.
In closing, if you have the time, please watch the Nachtwey documentary, its well worth your time.
Regards, Don Laird
Edson, Alberta, Canada
Romeo and Juliet in Sarajevo…..
History has been repeating itself since God said, “Let there be light”. I find remarkable, the complaint of Man, as he? looks to the? heavens for the source of his troubles, as if God is responsible for all misfortune and misery. Now, as children, we seek to blame others not ourselves. I am reminded of the quintessential example of the obscene futility of war, two young lovers, Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo, they too were aware of the futility of war as they lay dying…….in the silence of their death are volumes truthfully spoken to the cause of peace……
the brush and oils of the poet and statesman…..painting pictures of those men, women and citizens we should be and can be. Yet far to often we play pathetic beguiled rodents to some tyrant pied piper, to never question why, to never read between the lines, to blindly stuff our fellow man head first into ovens to satisfy the ravings of monsters, to satisfy some twisted sense of nationalistic or religious propriety….in the final analysis our failures render us fully complicit, fully compliant…
the brush and oils of adventurers, warriors, men of courage and conscience, those for whom going against the grain,? never quitting but unflinching and unswerving in the pursuit of excellence, staring straight? into the storm with grit teeth and clenched fists, a way of life, to the soul. Truly some actions speak louder than words, truly some actions a thunderous, withering roar…..
those among us who, through the fish-eyed lens and with frequent indifference to their own mortality, capture those moments of our humanity. Sweet fleeting moments of our greatest bravery, suffering, inhumanity, cowardice,? treachery, glory, compassion, triumph and beauty and in so doing leave us with reference, reference that suffers not the passage of time nor distance….
So it was a photographer who immortalized two young lovers whose fervent wish to be together was denied in life and granted in death…the murderous rhetoric, cancerous platitudes and selfish lies fall away and we are left with bits of glittering glass, shards of a shattered mirror that reflects Man’s inhumanity to Man…..
In closing, I recall the penultimate paragraph of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Deer Slayer”….We live in a world of transgressions and selfishness, and no pictures that represent us otherwise can be true; though happily for human nature, gleamings of that pure spirit in whose likeness man has been fashioned, are to be seen, relieving its deformities, and mitigating, if not excusing its crimes.”
Bosko Brckic and Admira Ismic were then, are now and always will be that gleaming….
Just a couple of thoughts…..
Regards, Don Laird
Edson, Alberta, Canada