Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Fragment 53

I watched this on Mubi in the hope of understanding better what had gone on in Liberia. Fortunately, I now realise, I was distracted by a telephone call during an early part of the film. I later realised that, as a result, I had only caught very brief glimpses of what is essentially a snuff movie - a chilling piece of footage in which a Liberian politician is murdered in a room full of people, none of whom appear particularly disturbed by what is going on.

The film, the bulk of which consists of footage of various veterans talking about their participation in the civil war, intercut with shots of landscapes seemingly untouched by man, left me more baffled than I had been to start with - and certain that Liberia is a dangerous place while people who have experienced such depravity remain walking its streets. Or what remain of its streets - as well as stripping all trace of civilised behaviour, the conflict resulted in what appears to be the total dismantlement of Liberia's infrastructure.

What happened? How did this society descend into such astonishing violence? The narrative of cultural destruction as the result of Western exploitation doesn't fit the Liberian experience at all, yet the murderous blood letting was, if not unparalleled, certainly as terrible there as anywhere else.

Taking a wider perspective, the film demonstrated what just at present the news seems to be teaching us every day - and indeed what most of history seems to imply - that is, man's capacity for wild destruction and murder is much larger than we would like to believe and possibly lurking only a millimetre beneath the surface of even the apparently most ordered, tranquil societies.

No comments:

Post a Comment