Can we imagine wars without the systematic killing of children, women and the elderly? What can I do to awaken collective guilt? The movie “The Natural History of Annihilation” offers no answer, but it does spark debate.
Russia bombed Syria for five consecutive years. This is long enough for organizations like the United Nations to respond. However, there was no answer. This encouraged Putin to use similar tactics in the war in Ukraine – Sergey Łoźnica said regarding the Kann premiere of his latest document “The Natural History of Extermination”One of the highlights of this year’s festival.
Contrary to appearances, this film, which is shown out of competition, is not directly intended for events outside our eastern borders. Composed of archival records and propaganda materials, it is a story about crimes committed against civilians during World War II. Surprisingly, the author does not value the victims on the side of the Nazis and does not distinguish them morally from those who died on the side of the Allies. Death, loss means the same everywhere. Supporting Hitler, standing up for the Nazis, dying Londoners – they were all hurt, suffered from some kind of prejudice, and created a common audience of people who suffered innocently in the film.
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The order to kill civilians
The main question this film asks is: Should we aim to kill civilians in the course of hostilities? Shoneka was inspired by the 1997 lectures in Zurich, which were included in the volume “Air War and Literature” (in the English version “On the Natural History of Destruction”) by W.G. Sebald, published after the author’s death in 2002. The German writer treated Essential with analyzing the historical consciousness of Germans and writing the post-war generation that refused to reckon with the Nazi past. Łoźnica is interested in holding Europeans accountable for their insanity and totalitarian tendencies. Can we imagine wars without the systematic killing of children, women and the elderly? What can I do to awaken collective guilt? How do we activate collective responsibility?
– If we look at what is happening in the Donbass and in eastern Ukraine, we can see that the commanders and superiors of the Russian army gave the order, allowing the mass killing of civilians. To destroy cities and infrastructure, looting and rape. It seems to be a principle of their strategy. This is what war means to them. It did not come out of nowhere. My video shows the roots of this phenomenon. and meditate on it – Łoźnica claims.
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Heaps of corpses and ruined cities
So we first see images of an idyllic animal from the Allgäu region near the Swiss border, in the Alpine landscapes of southern Bavaria, where Sebald was born. Festively dressed children play in the courtyard with animals, wagons carry locals to the church, beautiful-looking couples in love dance in the market square, water flows from fountains, and a balloon soars above the clouds. And suddenly night comes and the city’s paradise turns into a dark abyss where white spots appear, like stars in the sky. Increasingly larger, pulsing faster and faster with the noise of falling bombs, it creates a dramatic spectacle of smoke and fire of ruined cathedrals, crumbling factories, railway stations, buildings, and disappearing whole neighborhoods and districts of Lübeck, Rostock, Berlin, London.
There are almost no dialogues in the film. The first sentence that occurs from off-screen, probably by the pilot, is a report—reaction to the carpet raid: “Good job.” There are also no inscriptions arranging the chronology or presenting further forms. There are only blackouts, followed by a terrifying sequence of air battles, factory shots where weapons of mass destruction are being produced, and scenes of planes being rearmed. The dynamic images captured from a bird’s eye view are most impressive, showing the enormity of the devastation several days and weeks after the airstrikes. piles of corpses. Entire villages and cities have been wiped off the face of the earth, looking as or worse than a devastated Warsaw. Today we say Mariupol.
Churchill and Goebbels
The pictures are original. Most are completely unknown, digitally restored photos from 15 different archives, mostly German, British and American, as well as museums, the Associated Press and the Pathe label. Made by professionals, you can see the attention to aesthetic values, preservation of image symmetry, and non-accidental camera angles implemented by the master’s hand. It took the Ukrainian director four years to choose and prepare this two-hour show.
The effect is very strong and controversial, especially for the English, because the film equates, for example, Churchill’s statements with those of Goebbels. Fascinating the horrors of war in Europe, he does not go a step further, avoiding showing what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Łonica, who previously shot the brilliant satirical film Donbass, intended to stir debate. Of course, among politicians, but in the environment of philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists, those who deal with society from a moral point of view. What can cinema more than that?
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