John Pilger “Documentaries that Changed the World”

“Documentaries that Changed the World” was released as a 4 DVD set in 2006. It has a small booklet written by the Guardian’s Mark Curtis (who also appears in “Stealing a Nation”). It also has an interview with John Pilger by Anthony Hayward at the Guardian Hay Festival in 2006. For your money you get a total runtime of 644 minutes covering 12 separate documentaries. The earliest dates back to 1970 in Vietnam. We track John in no particular order as he globe trots across the world taking in Cambodia, Nicaragua, East Timor, Australia, Iraq, Palestine and the Chagos Islands. We get to see absolutely everything wrong with the world through John’s eyes. In this he is utterly faultless. Apart from the first Vietnam work the documentaries all bare his hallmarks. Particularly of note are his interviews with many terrible villains. He treats with journalistic respect but always managed to pull out some statistic that stuns his interviewee. There is then always some preposterous response leading to John’s characteristic “you are joking right?” withering look. Classic. Of note was the US Government official’s utter disbelief when John points out that the US had intervened Militarily in 77 separate countries. John then lists them on screen with all the facts. There is much brilliance here. Often the reaction of the viewer is outrage. You are easily moved to tears not so much my man’s inhumanity to man but by the bravery of the victims. John exposes the lies not only of foreign Governments but also those of the US, Australia and Britain. We should all hang our heads in shame that we ever let these things happen in our name. John’s angle is always that the Wes is somehow to blame. Given the evidence he unveils it is hard to disagree with this conclusion. So, what to do with nearly 11 hours of documentary? You just need to dip into these when you feel motivation – when you want to get angry. For this, and tears, is what this work invokes. He says more in 1 hour than Chomsky can communicate in a dozen books. If you want to know what happened to Nicaragua then “A Nation’s Right to Survive” is the one to watch. The War on Terror? Watch “Breaking the Silence”. And so it goes on. Did these Documentaries change the world? Probably not but we know for sure that his work in Cambodia, East Timor, the Chagos Islands and Vietnam told people uncomfortable truths that got prime-time airtime. He moved people. Things changed. Recommended, but don’t try and watch them all at once.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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