Film review: McCullin, documentary portrait of a front line photographer
This searching documentary portrait of the photographer Don McCullin is also, necessarily, a distillation of the most harrowing atrocities witnessed since the Second World War.
McCullin doesn't like being called a war photographer, but the front line is the place he made his name – Cyprus, the Congo, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Lebanon – and where he has kept going back. (Now aged 77, he recently returned from duty in Syria).
His startling images, some beautiful, many horrible, attest to his bravery, but also to his quick eye and artistic sense of composition: the picture of a shocked Belfast woman cowering in a doorway as soldiers charge past is a marvel of timing. His portrait of a starving albino boy in Biafra is simply appalled, and appalling, an illustration of why his old friend and employer Harold Evans calls him "a conscience with a camera".
McCullin in interview presents a cautious, decent, soft-spoken character, deeply divided about his life's work; on the one hand, his photographs have alerted the world to its "insanity" (a word he keeps using), on the other, he admits his obsessive nature as a "war junkie" effectively destroyed his first marriage.
Perhaps the things he has seen over a lifetime would kill the twinkle in anyone's eye, but it's remarkable all the same how civilised and self-possessed he appears. Directors Jacqui and David Morris have done a good, unfussy job with dynamite material.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
- 5 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Fifty Shades of Grey movie: New picture of Anastasia Steele unveiled
Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
Cilla, ITV - TV review: No wonder Cilla's chuffed with this story of her life – even the Beatles take a back seat
Doctor Who, Listen, review: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode
Tyler, The Creator says having new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke