Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering D-Day

Please don't think I'm using the link I'm giving below because I'm being lazy. It's just because we've had so many remembrances of D-Day lately that I wanted something to summarise what war is and does to people's lives.

The many documentaries we've been seeing over the past week have all dealt with the horror that is war in meaningful ways - the memories of those who survived the D-Day push on to the beaches of Normandy, the mistakes and the successes as the Allied troops fought their way in from the coast and the final capitulation of the Nazis much later - and it's not that there's anything wrong with showing us these things. I'd hope that examining all aspects of the war would teach us something - like maybe not letting it happen again. Yes, that's a forlorn hope I know. That famous quote (by George Santayana, I think) about how those who don't study history are bound to repeat it may be very true but, for some reason, there are always people who think it will be different for them and the rest of us suffer for it.

But, however genuine the attempts of the documentary makers, they are constrained by the medium. They have to cut and edit vast amounts of material to fit their time slot whether it's a one hour one off or a series - and, let's be fair, they also have to keep their audience - a generation that expects brief, quick and pithy comment and demands excitement to keep them from glazing over (Even documentaries have to catch the attention in some way. For much of the past week I've been seeing promo for an archaeological dig with snippets that make it look as if it's full of thrills and resolves a mystery that's been intriguing people for centuries. Trouble is these highlights are stage managed with people racing around and the camera fortuitously focussed on the site at just that moment when something has been discovered - and, for the record, the mystery in question is still just that - a mystery.)

I wanted to show you something that reflects the reality of war but not in a documentary sense. This extraordinary video does that because it's art. Facts are all very well - I'm a history major so I love my facts and evidence - but great art speaks to the spirit. Even if it depicts an event it's much more than the bare bones of what happened. It makes us feel. This artist reduced her audience (including me) to tears. Have a look and see if it does the same to you.

Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation

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