Of all the weapons invented in human history, it seems that either the gun or the bomb would be the most powerful and influential. There are two weapons, however, that beat out both. One was invented in the 15th century, a weapon that armed more of earth’s citizens with power and might than ever before and still does to this day. That invention was the printing press.
I’m trying my best not to sound exaggerated or trite, but it really was a powerful weapon. People having access to information that would educate and inform made life miserable for absolute rulers and those who controlled the worldview of the masses. And if that’s not convincing enough, consider A&E Biography 1999 list of the most influential people of the last 1,000 years. Through research, number crunching, and consultation with academic historians they compiled their list and at the very top was Johann Gutenberg. There was no doubt that his contribution was more dominant, significant, and influential than even the likes of Genghis Khan, Albert Einstein, Christopher Columbus, and Napoleon.
Watching a movie while lying in the tub last week (one of my favourite new pastimes), a thought came to my mind. Maybe there has been another invention with similar effects that we haven’t quite acknowledged yet. I was watching Winter on Fire (2015), an Evgeny Afineevsky film that covers the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine in 2013-14. My knowledge of what was going on then was minimal. I knew basically what was going on, but this movie shone a light on the events and made them matter deeply to me. A weapon was used in that conflict. A potent one and I’ll never forget its impact on the event itself, and its impact on me.
This mighty weapon is neither a gun nor a bomb. It was invented in the 20th century, but it’s not television, Internet, nor any type of telecommunication. It’s earliest use was 1918: the video camera.
Yes, video is brought to us by various forms of media, but there’s something so powerful in raw footage being recorded by professionals and amateurs alike. And even though videos can be manipulated to serve anyone’s purpose, they are often debunked by individuals who know better. Or by other competing video clips of the same event. Or even common sense. True, it can be annoying in a world where anyone and everyone has access to video, but it’s making it harder and harder for the powers that be to feed us what they want us to think, believe, and feel.
Seeing the terrors of government power persecuting innocent, peaceful protesters is now etched in my brain. There’s too much footage of what happened for Putin and Yanukovych to hide. It’s not just Ukrainians and eastern Europeans who are outraged by what took place. The world is outraged.
I love this weapon. We all can use it. And though it can be used to hurt others (and certainly it has), it’s potential to be used for good is far greater and easier to imagine.
Can’t say the same thing about a bomb or a bullet.
Congratulations 20 Feet from Stardom. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Not so sure there are “actors” in these movies; however, Annie Allix was so interesting to listen to in Man on Wire. She had such a unique yet mature outlook on life and gave Petit so much support. She also had to put up with him and his obsessions.
Best Actor: Again, no actors, but I loved learning about Roger Ebert in Life Itself.
Best Quote: “I was born inside the movie of my life.” — Roger Ebert in Life Itself.
I’m looking forward to seeing 20 Feet from Stardom, as it’s the only one of this week’s nominees that I haven’t seen. That and it sounds awesome.
Last week I shared my favourite 2016 movies that I’ve seen so far. This week, I’d like to share with you my favourite non-2016 that I saw for the first time in 2016:
10. Paper Moon (1973)
9. Hoop Dreams (1994)
8. The Dirties (2013)
7. True Romance (1993)
6. Colonia (2015)
5. The Big Short (2015)
4. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
3. The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
2. The Act of Killing (2012)**
1. Children of Heaven (1997)
**This is another documentary that is in the same wheelhouse as Winter on Fire.