Shadow World :: Utterly Depressing Essential Viewing

Cineville - Shadow World

Shadow World is very powerful documentary about the privatisation of war that consolidated my feelings about crony capitalism and sociopathy and made me feel bleak to the point of numbness.

‘Inside the Global Arms Trade’ is the film’s subtitle, and that’s where the film wallows, in this elegant underworld where the rich get richer by systematically and deliberately killing people and destroying things. It’s an eye-opening, stomach-turning parade of the rich and powerful shaking each other’s hands and slapping each other’s backs and smiling for the cameras.

Cineville - Shadow World


It's a painful watch. There are lots of interviews with lots of people. Lot of lies, lots of corruption, lots of war crimes, lots of innocent people killed for no reason whatsoever. Lots of footage.

Footage of people being blown up in drone attacks. Footage of people writhing around in pools of blood following bombings. Footage of the soldiers at Christmas in World War One that I didn’t know existed.

Cineville - Shadow World


I found a lot of the footage quite difficult to watch, like the footage of Thatcher and Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan and Bush Senior and Dick Cheney. It feels like you’re watching evil at work. I try not to use words like “evil” because … well, it seems childish. I don’t really think evil exists. But I know that sociopathy exists, and I think that’s the real problem here. It has to be. The small number of people who rise to the top of our systems of power and authority do so because capitalism rewards those without a conscience. And anyone with a conscience either gets pushed out of powerful positions or leaves of their own accord, sickened.

Cineville - Shadow World


After a while, it rather does your head in. And I can totally understand why so many people choose to just bury their heads in the sand when it comes to stuff like this because it’s just too big. How can anyone do anything to stop the combined might of such a large network of untouchable scum? They are the world’s wealthiest sociopaths. Seriously, what can any of us do to stop them? It feels totally hopeless.

Cineville - Shadow World


A couple of days after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America, Edward Snowden did an interview with a Dutch tech company. He was asked about Trump, obviously, as Trump has apparently promised to work with Putin to help get Snowden tried and ultimately executed as a traitor. And this is what he said: 

"We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear in the work of elected officials. At the end of the day, this is just a president. If we want to build or live or enjoy the fruits of a better world - if we want to make sure that the rights that we have encoded into our laws are actually reliable, that we live with them and pass them to our children - this will never be the work of politicians; this can only be the work of the people, of the population....

"Ultimately if we want to see a change, we must force it through ourselves. If we want to have a better world, we cannot hope for an Obama and we should not fear a Donald Trump. Rather, we should build it ourselves."


And it’s this kind of thing I’m clinging on to.

I don't think it can be underestimated how important documentaries like Shadow World are. We need knowledge of how the system works to be out there, being passed around. And discussed. Because you never know when the right combination of people will effect change. You never know.

Cineville - Shadow World


I think the future of the human race depends entirely on us moving beyond money at some point. That’s what I think. I’m guessing a couple of billion people will have to die first however. And even then, we may struggle.

Shadow World reminds us that war does not exist because of individuals, the majority of whom will always have the urge to work out their problems without killing one another, but because of government officials, and because of the boards and shareholders of various companies: the decision-makers. Just like the decision-makers in I, Daniel Blake, those that decide to indulge in permawarfare have no connection whatsoever, and no empathy with, the people affected by their decisions.

And there's no sign of any of this letting up any time soon. Au contraire.

Cineville - Shadow World


I can’t believe that the last voice in Shadow World – the one that gave a little hope – was in Spanish and I understood neither it nor the Dutch subtitle that accompanied it. Something about waiting I think. And something, I suspect, about hope.


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The Viewing

I had tried to see this the previous evening at what I believe was the Amsterdam premiere at De Balie but it had been sold out, which pleased me very much. The lady in the box office seemed momentarily surprised by my reaction to it being sold out – ‘Excellent!’ – perhaps thinking that I hadn’t wanted to see the film at all and was really pleased that in the end I didn’t have to.

This evening I arrived at the FilmHallen with ten minutes to spare and was surprised to see a huge queue out the door – not for Shadow World, which was only a third full, but for a variety of films, mostly, as far as I could tell, for Fantastic Beasts. Meh. At least they’re going to the cinema though, in their droves, on a wet and miserable Monday night after work.

I love Amsterdam. Everything except the service, which is uniformly dreadful. But that's a small price to pay. 

The cards in this post were left lying around in the cinema by the way, promotional material for Shadow World. I'll put the rest here in case someone want to see them. 


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Cineville - Shadow World


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Cineville - Shadow World


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Cineville - Shadow World


I think it may have been tonight that I picked up this postcard too, which is the absolute height of jumping the gun...
 

Cineville - Shadow World

About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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