McCullin documents the work, and through it the life, of British photographer Donald McCullin. The film forgoes any message mongering in favour of allowing the work and the man to speak for themselves. Through his viewfinder, McCullin saw the very worst of thirty years of conflict, from the Cypriot intercommunal violence, through Vietnam and into the Middle East during the 80s. Through his images, as well as archive footage and a modern interview, the film explores how McCullin had a unique combination of time, place and talent to be able to bear witness to some of the most important moments of contemporary human conflict.
The film is careful and composed, reflecting McCullin himself; who speaks gently and with self-awareness about horrors even he could not document. It bravely embraces silence and stillness more than other documentaries to let the power of his images linger on the screen. It presents wider reflections about the acts of human violence he witnessed, as well as the importance of dedicated journalists but never lets its gaze linger on anything except McCullin and his work. Like his images, the film holds a quiet power and is both informative and lingeringly troubling.
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