Do we have the right to aestheticize war?
Photographing warlords as if they were models, Hollywood stars?
I asked myself that question when I saw the photos. shine that the famous star photographer Annie Leibovitz photographed Volodymyr Zelensky and Olena Zelenska for the fashion magazine Fashion.
THE GLAMORIZATION OF THE WAR
In one of these photos, we see the President of Ukraine lovingly hugging his wife while looking at the camera.
Looks like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
And on the other we see the First Lady of Ukraine (immaculately dressed) in a magnificent blue coat surrounded by three heavily armed soldiers standing guard.
The photo, taken at the scene of a recent Russian army attack, is beautifully framed. If it weren’t for the three soldiers and wreckage (of an airplane? a train?) that served as the backdrop, it would be like looking at a fashion photo.
Only if the price of the coat doesn’t appear in the photo below…
Looking at these images, I remembered the famous text published by filmmaker and critic Jacques Rivette Cinema Notebooks in June 1961.
Text that caused a great scandal and sparked a long debate about the limits of aesthetics in depicting a scene of devastation.
Let me tell you the story…
AN IMMORAL TRAVEL FILM?
This month, Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo (who rose to fame five years later with The Battle of Algiersa stunning political film that is considered a classic of the genre, along with assignments by Michel Brault) brought his last feature film to French screens. With the American Susan Strasberg and the French Emmanuelle Riva, capo told about the descent into hell of a Jewish teenager who was sent to a concentration camp.
In one famous shot, a prisoner commits suicide by throwing herself at an electric fence.
Instead of filming this scene soberly, Pontecorvo decided to take “a nice picture” by using a slow tracking shot to better capture the woman’s corpse.
This had outraged Jacques Rivette.
“See in capo, the shot in which the character played by Emmanuelle Riva commits suicide by throwing herself onto the electrified barbed wire; The man who decides at that moment to pan forward to re-photograph the corpse from a low angle, being careful to register the raised hand at an exact angle of his final framing, is just in on this man to be attributed to the deepest contempt,” he wrote.
The film community has been talking about this criticism for months.
How far can we take the war shine move something forward?
A NECESSARY EXERCISE?
The pictures of Fashion liven up the debate.
Before writing this column, I showed my beloved the photos of Zelensky and his wife.
“The media hardly talks about this terrible war anymore,” she told me. If these photos – and especially the text that accompanies them – can keep this story alive, why not? »
In short, Sophie is not outraged.
I, on the other hand, feel a certain uneasiness, not to say a certain uneasiness.