Tue, 17 Jul 2007
Lake Victoria and Sauper's film
We saw Darwin's Nightmare on DVD this past weekend. We watched it twice and watched the interview with Sauper as well. It seems to have generated some controversy. Wikipedia provides some information there.
Sauper explains he is being indirect, but I think his focus is on the effects of globalization and the arms trade on the people in undeveloped, poorly governed countries. The use of Darwin's name is a little misleading; his interest lies not in natural science, but politics, "Social Darwinism" as he says in his interview.
Nor does economics play a large role. Numerous times his subjects note/claim the jets carrying the fish to Europe arrive empty, and numerous times he asks whether they might not actually bring munitions.
What he presents is devasting, especially the cycle of aid to factories to dislocation of workers to public health collapse. But I'm left desperately curious. What is the train in the background transporting? Where do the fish factory owners and workers live? The street urchins are dressed in rags; where are the tee-shirt vendors? How does cash get from perch to arms?
Sauper makes a very good point in his interview; the images he captured were not easily obtained. It was difficult to transport cameras, to get access to airports, even to follow the fish carcasses. Another demonstration of how much we wouldn't have known without serious effort, and, by inference, how much we do not yet know.
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