Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The death of Tim Hetherington

As you may be aware, Tim Hetherington, the talented photojournalist, has been killed while working in Libya. Hetherington emerged above ground last year when he co-directed a stunning documentary about the war in Afghanistan called Restrepo. The film has already …

Thu, Apr 21, 2011, 14:44

   

As you may be aware, Tim Hetherington, the talented photojournalist, has been killed while working in Libya. Hetherington emerged above ground last year when he co-directed a stunning documentary about the war in Afghanistan called Restrepo. The film has already become something of a classic. Few war docs have ever got quite so close to the action and the danger. If anybody was in any doubt about his willingness to put his own life on the line, he or she should now be disabused of that notion.

He was also admirably robust about criticism. Talking to Tara Brady in this paper, he dryly commented: “Sometimes you just can’t win,” he says. “The hard right don’t want any questions about the basis of the war. The hard left can’t understand anything that isn’t a complete condemnation of everything connected with the war. They don’t want to think about soldiers as people. The film has become a Rorschach test: some people take the film as evidence that the war in Afghanistan was completely out of control, others say it shows the soldiers are noble and brave. Very often the various critiques of the film have said more about the critic and not the film itself.”

By then, he may have been aware that A O Scott, the New York Times’s film reviewer, had delivered a more sober assessment. “Restrepo has the spare, lyrical force of an elegy, inscribing a place for its characters in a tradition of war poetry stretching back to the epics of the ancient world,” Mr Scott wrote.

Quite right too.