Thursday, 2 February 2017

REVIEW - THE WHITE HELMETS (ORLANDO VON EINSIEDEL)


A worthy portrait of an exceptional group, comprised of Syria's best and bravest. The White Helmets, the volunteer civilian organization that has saved thousands of lives in the aftermaths of government attacks on its own population throughout Syria, should put the rest of us to shame in our manner of living, our baseless concerns and complacency, our trepidations and travel bans. Their boldness is matched by that of the filmmakers, accompanying this rescue crew on missions into the very heart of a war zone, capturing footage of immense political value and emotive power. Several steps beyond the objective detachment of a news report, this is close-range, intensive, integrally humanistic material with a clear purpose and in direct style - you've likely been similarly chastised before for not responding to certain content in other films, but it'd truly take a heart hard as stone not to be moved deeply by The White Helmets. Excursions to Turkey to chronicle elements of the training process for this defence team are afforded immediate relevance as the distance creates its own problems, while the massacres continue unabated. This too is strong footage, though less so than that preceding it, and thus contributes to a reduction in the film's core emotional import. Better to retrospectively regard The White Helmets in reverse, as a noble document of unsung heroes, its impact enhanced by the inclusion of some of the most extraordinary real-life sights you'll ever see on film.