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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Robert Fisk's World: You don't need colour to tell the brutality of war – but it helps

French television can be the dullest in the world – but justice where justice is due. Jean-François Delassus has just sent me his 100-minute documentary for France 2 on the 1914-18 war – 14-18, Le Bruit and La Fureur – and it is an absolute cracker. Not only has the archive footage been brilliantly "sounded" (the French sonorisé is somehow more elegant) but it has been expertly colourised. French troops march to their deaths with red kepis; British soldiers celebrate the end of war in brown uniforms (along with a Brit who has dressed himself up in German field grey plus rifle and bayonet). At one point, an airship, movie camera attached, flies over the mud of the trenches and across a smashed French town where streams of refugees are trudging home. Some of this is so startling that it's difficult to realise that everyone in camera-shot is long dead.


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