Movie (p)review - McCullin
David Morris & Jacqui Morris, 2012
A powerful documentary about Donald "Don" McCullin, internationally known British photojournalist, mostly known for his war photography. From the start of his photographic career in the 1959, his photographs have mostly depicted the "weak ones" - unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished, showing the "underside of society". At one point in his life, a war junkie, as he states himself, but a true humanist in every way, McCullin is truly a brilliant photographer, showing to the world consequences of different political decisions, greed and religious madness. On the lighter side, he is also known among the music fans for his day spent photographing the Fab Four, published in a book "A Day in the Life of The Beatles".
At the time of making this film, Don McCullin was almost 75 years old, but still very active, shooting British landscape and enjoying it. Though, ghosts of the past haunt him on a regular basis, he admitted.
Shell-shocked US marine, Hue, Vietnam, February 1968 © Don McCullinn
He is known for his technical mastery, but also for his huge empathy and extreme modesty. Completely honest (with sharp memory, full of details), saying things that, I can imagine, others would forget to mention. As with wars and armed conflicts, McCullin's biography is also full of awards and recognitions for his outstanding photographic work. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1977, and granted the CBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1993, the first photojournalist to receive the honour, to just name a few.
The movie, which was nominated for two BAFTA awards, has been made beautifully, in the best manner of the British documentary style. By saying that, I'm saying it's top quality BBC style, and not those "short cuts / jumping hand held camera / music soundtrack on maximum / no real content, the style is what matters" MTV type movie that we get so much this days. It was directed by Jacqui Morris and her brother David (their second movie, and a first documentary), with one of executive producers being Rankin, world famous photographer and videographer.
"I wanted to try and meet that challenge and make a documentary, not just about photographs taken by one the world’s most acclaimed photographers, but tell the story of his emotional journey behind the camera's lens."
Guv'nors - a gang from Finsbury Park, London, Don McCullinn's first-ever published image (Observer, 1958) © Don McCullinn
Brilliant photographer in a great documentary, a must for all interested in (the history of) war photography. Though it comes with a cost - with some heavy images, this movie is not for those with weak hearts, because to see some of the stuff he saw, can make you loose hope in humanity altogether.
In a short interview that was published this January in Professional Photographer magazine, McCullin said: "I'm no hero. All I did was stand up very tall and wave the flag for photography". Talk about the modesty of this Big man...
McCullin, official trailer