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War Photographer
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War Photographer More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Moving film, fascinating documentary

9/10
Author: sarahkatherine from United States
11 February 2005

The part I liked best about this film is the way it uses Nachtwey's camera to do the actual filming: on top of his still camera, the filmmakers mounted a little movie camera. The end result is that you can watch the scene unfolding as if you were looking through Nachtwey's own lens. Watching as he transforms scenes of violence, chaos, and noise into breathtaking still photographs is fascinating. Any shutterbugs out there will enjoy this movie for that aspect of it alone.

It's also a very moving film--very intense. I certainly can't get through it without tearing up, and when I looked around the theater I saw the same shock and grief on the faces of my fellow moviegoers. The ethos of the film seems to reflect the sentiment behind Nachtwey's own photographs; that is, you don't get the New York Times explanation of who the victims are, who the perpetrators are, or what the socio-political context is. The violence and suffering are presented simply: this thing happened to this person at this moment, and it was awful.

It's not too preachy; the viewer is left to ask her own questions about why and how these things happen. Sometimes all those explanations can obscure the individual lives that are contained in a word like "collateral damage." Nachtwey's photography, and this film, clarify that fact simply by observing it. That's the essence of the best documentary photography, and it's a great reason to see this film.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough...

10/10
Author: Riedenschneider from Hamburg, Germany
17 July 2002

Stunning, shocking and beautiful, a "Pflicht-Film" about war photography and it's leading lenser James Nachtwey.

Originally commissioned for Swiss television, this documentary by Christian Frei may be hard to track down, but it might be one of the most memorable films you will ever see. More user comments probably will say "this film is not for the squeamish," but what we see here is the real-life inferno of war and poverty. And if you have never been subject to war and poverty you HAVE to see (Nachtwey's) photography, which demonstrates what the human race is capable of and what it looks like...

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

a world full of voices through the eyes of a silent man

9/10
Author: oleng from jakarta
22 December 2004

One of the most profound aspect i found in this documentary, is the use of sound. I think it's one of the best, if not most calculated sound editing ever done, since the film supposed to focus on images. It's quite easy to overlook that, and will be forgiven even. But rather, the production teams managed to reflect the personality of James Nachtwey in result. A distant man, watching from a far, though awfully trying to get as near as possible, ... to get involved.

Personally i think, a lot, not all mind you, people misunderstood him. The reviews here reflect that. They might think that he have some personal agendas. Since i believe no people can escape side effects of wars, unless they're the ones who inflict them, i believe James have been greatly changed by his experience, in better or worse terms i have no idea, but he cannot run from it. He has to come back, to experience it all over again, to feel alive. It's vampirism all right, but not from the material, or the moral angle. He simply needs that sense of purpose, to live, and to fulfill his life, with higher aims to reach. I imagined he lost that sense a lot of times, and that must be painful.

For whatever reason he seems to have , it all comes down to this basic human need, to find their purpose, takes the journey and try to fulfill it. This is a reminder of that, for all of us. And for that, i am grateful for this film.

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Incredible film about a disappearing profession

Author: Chris from Jakarta
25 July 2004

This film is incredible and shows the power of one man. Nachtwey has dedicated his life to being a war photographer and shows how one man can help shape public opinion with the power of images. As was the case in Vietnam, photos can be very subversive since they show the falseness and fraud of the government's official line or 'spin' on stories.

And thus we see that in the war in Iraq the gov't is keeping a tight lid on images. Once you see pictures of a 4 year old boy in a morgue with his limbs blown off, the generals and the politicians cannot, no matter how hard they try, justify it. this is why Al Jazeera has become the boogeyman of the west.

once people see enough of these images, they cannot support war any longer. this, i believe, is Nachtwey's vision and his struggle.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Phenomenal

10/10
Author: salty-17 from Washington, DC
8 June 2004

I watched this film and was riveted throughout. The image quality is very high. Watching James Nachtwey work in silence with total dedication and focus while flames crackle in the background... this film is a masterpiece of understated intensity. Everybody has seen this photographers images - they just may not realize who the author of those images are. Watch this film to find out why one (and many other) individual takes the risks and endures the hardships to freeze-frame and expose the uglier sides of human nature.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding insight on journalism, mass media, and Western Society

Author: ttlysik from U.S.
14 December 2003

This film manages to show us an extraordinary slice of life, and make a significant comment on western society at the same time. The directer

remains distant-letting Nachtway and others make the point. Ingenious use of multiple cameras as well as Nachtway's "still" black and white photos make this compelling to watch as well.

Regardless of location or assignment this should be a primer for all working journalists as well as all journalism students.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Humanity We All Share; Photographs of Violence That Appeal to Our Compassion

8/10
Author: museumofdave from Paradise, California
22 March 2013

"What kind of a person could do that?" is a question that often occurs to me when I see a photograph from a battle zone, or one which depicts ordinary people in excruciating distress. This film shows us a person who takes such photographs, one who crosses physical and emotional boundaries to places most of us wouldn't dare to approach even at a great distance.

The photographer, James Nachtwey, is a cool, philosophical individual, motivated by the goodness he feels motivates humanity--in spite of the horrors he deals with on the killing fields. We have all come across the trashy photos that adorn the covers of National Enquirer, pictures that titillate and appeal to our worst natures--Nachtwey's hard-earned photos do just the opposite--they appeal to our compassion, are meant to give us insight into the human condition, the humanity we all share--and in doing so elevate all of us, enrich humanity.

War Photographer is often a frankly brutal film, but it's overall impact is significantly uplifting. One greatly admires James Nachtway for his goals and is astonished by his photography.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A must see for all photography enthusiasts out there

10/10
Author: eydryan from Romania
1 May 2006

I believe this movie to be one of the most inspirational movies i have ever seen... Every time i watch it i have this urge to take my film, load it into my camera and just go out and live what photography is all about... It evokes in me that exact spirit that made me take up this profession and i love it for that.

It's a great movie in that it shocks you. It lets you know what the world is like and it also lets you know what a photographer's job really means. All about that hassle, that peril and the drive it takes to pull through.

It's a movie about all that is wrong in the world but not in a tree-hugging, stupid environmentalist way but in a way we can all relate to...

If you want to see what it takes to be a photographer expect all that and more, because no one can make it in this business unless you're really good...

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17 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

video killed the photographer star?

5/10
Author: ThurstonHunger from Palo Alto, CA, USA
12 January 2004



In the "extras" on the DVD there is a short interview with Nachtwey that is perhaps as telling about him as the entire film. One of the comments he makes is that he sees himself as a conduit, and it is his monk-like dedication to being a passive photographer that I think is somewhat problematic in having a film about him.

As such, while I have profound respect for Nachtwey's efforts, his results and evidently his civility in the face of brutality, this film I think is not an essential watch. If you are like me, and feel it is important to remind yourself of how privileged your existence is from time to time, this will suffice. But not as well as an afternoon at a soup kitchen...

I think there is no doubt as to the bravery of a war photographer, in my naivete, I did not think that some folks saw them as crass profiteers until seeing this film (and reading some commentary online. "Vampirism" is addressed obliquely in the film. Well, all aspects are addressed obliquely in this film.

Back to "vampirism," again even if a person were greedy, that would not deny his/her bravery. As I write this, all I know is that Nachtwey was injured in early December along with Michael Weisskopf who allegedly was very heroic in harm's way. I've not seen many updates since the initial reports, and it's been nearly a month. At this time, I should also point out there is a jamesnachtwey.com with some of the photos from this film.

In hindsight, I would suggest viewing more photos, while reading the text of interviews with Nachtwey and skip this film.

There are some creative microcameras used to put us not only in Nachtwey's shoes, but in his lens. I found them quickly a distraction, if not an annoyance. And sometimes there would be a lengthy microcamera shot looking back at Nachtwey's brow, properly furrowed as he took in the atrocity at hand.

Images from a sulfur mine (moving from martial to capitalistic crimes?) were eerily beautiful, especially in video format. And video was another problem for me, personally I prefer it to photography. Whether for a wedding, or a war.

But video certainly in its elongation of time, rather than a snapshots snap moment, makes you wonder about the before and after of activities. We demand more from video, with photos we demand more from ourselves.

We see Palestinians with rocks, slingshots and molitov cocktails hurling blindly though smoke and over and around concrete. No story behind why they are there, and some of them seem quite young. A pet peeve of mine is why kids are allowed in harms way in such settings.

People in Jakarta are living near the train tracks, and one family is given specific focus. The message is that these people are just like you, striving to support their children...

But again the video makes me wonder about that family some more. The father has lost an arm and a leg to the trains that he now keeps his family living near by, and unlike the other families, in lean-to's off to the side of the tracks, they are shown "sleeping" right between the tracks.

These questions pop up with video, whereas I think a few photographs and Nachtwey's words voiced over or written in an article would not.

In conclusion, I feel somewhat conflicted giving this less than a 6, especially as I am more than likely aligned with the general beliefs of Nachtwey. His stated belief in the importance of one life is something that I think as individuals we have to try and assert knowing that governments and companies understand how cheap human life is.

That's a tricky balance, and one hard to put on video, possibly better left to a photo and then meditated upon by each one us. We do see many photos here, but then as they are "embedded" in video, they are tainted by that. It happens with embedding I think...the meter is running and the demands of the film must be met. Maybe I should have hit the pause button for each photo?

With hope, soon Nachtwey will be well from his wounds, and again able to document the wounds of the world for us.

5/10

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