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War Photographer
War Photographer
Actors: James Nachtwey, Christiane Amanpour, Hans-Hermann Klare, Christiane Breustedt, Des Wright (II)
Director: Christian Frei
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2003     1hr 36min

{OSCAR NOMINATION, Best Documentary Feature 2002} — {PEABODY AWARD, Georg Foster Peabody Award 2003} — {EMMY AWARD NOMINATION, Cinematography 2004} — {WINNER of 16 International Awards and Nominations 2002-2004} — Nominated fo...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: James Nachtwey, Christiane Amanpour, Hans-Hermann Klare, Christiane Breustedt, Des Wright (II)
Director: Christian Frei
Genres: Educational, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Educational, Biography, Military & War, Military & War
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Humanism reflected
Bjorn Brekke | Oslo, Norway | 10/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"James Nachtwey is a great human being. Committed to war photography for over 20 years, he proves in this film that the power of empathy is stronger than the power of cynicism. Still able to photograph with compassion and unobtrusiveness, after all those years witnessing misery and evil close up, demands respect. When I first saw Mr. Nachtwey in flesh and blood, at a slide presentation at UC Berkeley in 2000, the thing that struck me immediately was his soft tone and his sparse comments about his photographs. I guess this was not your typical stereotype of a hardened, irritable and egoistic war photographer. It became obvious to me that Mr. Nachtwey is a man of extraordinary principle, courage and sheer force of will. His photographs speaks a thousand times louder than any political declaration. Photography is potentially a universal language that trancends cultural barriers. Mr. Nachtwey's photographs of a mob killing a man right in front of his eyes in, despite pleading them desperatly to stop, communicates an universal message. It says: "The world is watching" and "I will not allow myself to be intimidated by murderers". Only an immense moral conviction can create such images, and James Nachtwey has got it.This kind of photography is difficult. James Nachtwey is one of the few photographers who are able to grab people by instinct rather by intellect. In the film, Nachtwey talks about "the discipline of the frame". In order to make good photographs one always have to take into account their compositions. What makes James Nachtwey stand out is his continually well composed war photographs. Remember, this is not fashion shots, where you have endless time to arrange and compose your frame. Mr. Nachtwey's photographs are taken with pinpoint accuracy and calmness in extreme hostile circumstances. For me, this is where the humanity of Mr. Nachtwey reveals itself. Despite chaos around him, he is committed, no matter what, to document with critical distance. People who view these photographs can immediately see what the photographer is trying to tell. In Nachtwey's case he often tells a story of indescribable suffering and destruction. His war photographs, whose esthetic beauty is meant to strengthen the impact of the image, strongly communicates defiance in face of evil and a willingness to record this evil for others to see.For aspiring documentary photographers as myself, James Nachtwey is a beacon of hope on behalf of the "concerned photography tradition". But as Mr. Nachtwey himself mentioned in the film, fewer avenues are open today for documentary photographers. Time pressure from magazines and picture editors make it more difficult to take pictures that demands research and thorough preparation. The committed documentary photographers best bet in the future, possibly, is to become member of a small group of freelance photographers. Recently James Nachtwey quit from the prestigious Magnum Agency and became instead a member of VII, an agency run by photographers for photographers (originally 7 members). Finally, I want to share some information of where people can get hold of more James Nachtwey material. Of websites, I recommend, for its extensive galleries,, for whom Mr. Nachtwey is a contract photographer, and, with audio interviews of Mr. Nachtwey and photographs from the World Trade Center attacks, 9/11. Of books, I recommend "Inferno", for black and white photographs, and "Magnum Degrees", for color, both readily availible at"
The world's misery through the eyes of this photographer
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 07/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This 2001 film is a documentary about James Nachtwey, a war photographer whose camera has documented much of the horror in the world during his 20 year career. He was in Nicaragua, Rwanda and Bosnia during some of the most profound episodes of violence and his photos have won acclaim worldwide. He's a slim, quiet and determined man and he is totally devoted to his craft. He risks his life and brings the agony right onto our television screens and magazines. Christiane Amanpour narrates some of the film and we see video clips of her as well as our photographer, covering the story of a huge mass grave that has been dug up in Bosnia. Because is through their eyes that the rest of the world will learn these stories, she talks about the tremendous responsibilities that they, as journalists, face. I sat there, transfixed by one terrible image after another. There's death, destruction, crippling poverty and crippled people. And the there are the grieving relatives. It was awful. So awful, in fact, that I actually fell asleep. Perhaps that was because all this horror was too much to handle in one sitting. I'm glad this film was made. It's a testament to one man's dedication to his profession. It's just that it's really hard to watch. And so my recommendation is limited to only those hearty souls who are willing to catch a glimpse of the world's misery."
Well-Made Documentary about the Acclaimed Photographer
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 11/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As other reviewers say, James Nachtway is one of the most celebrated and respected war photographer in the world. This documentary follows his steps all over the world, giving the authentic feeling of the places such as Kosovo where he works hard to convey the misery of the humans there.As I have little to add to the reviews before me about Mr. Nachtway's career and works, I will concentrate on talking about the film itself. The filmmakers must have been warned against the idea of making this documentary, as Nachtway knows the war photographer's job is extremely dangerous. So, as a kind of solution, they decided to attach a mini-camera to the one Nachtway carries, so that the film can show how he sees things in the battlefield. In some of the scenes, you get the sense of confusion of the place almost like first-hand experience. The film's title is, however, very misleading, so let me correct it. Nachtway's works extend much more than being "war photographer." He travels around many countries where the war is not going on, but does not fail to report the sadness of some people. In a certain nation in Asia, he meets a family living by the railroad track, and reports the life of them. As a result of sleeping at this dangerous place, the father lost his limbs, but still has to survive, providing his family with what little momey he can earn.The film is NOT about Nachtway himself. He does not speak much, and always maintains calm attitude. I don't know whether it is a good thing or not, but the film refuses to go inside the personality of Nachtway. (Maybe that is because he has nothing to hide from us, and his photos are his life itself.) Some interviewees talk about him, but what we know is not particularly unique, thus making a great contrast with Robert Capa.My 4 star rating comes from the last point. It's not defect, but I always expect some personal things from any documentary, and this does not reflect my attitude toward his astounding works.The most impressive scene of the film is, to me, the sulfer mountains where the local workers have to take out the chunks of yellow rocks without using any modern machines. And James Nachtway is there, without protecting himself from the deadly smokes of the ore except a towel around his mouth and nose. It will remain in your mind forever."
If you even think about watching this, please do
B. Finkemeyer | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm basically repeating some of what other people have stated, but I have to add to this as well: This is an amazing film that I am extremely grateful to have found. It provides such a close, intimate, detailed view of one person's life, and it shows exactly how courageous one person needs to be in life. It shows the smallest details about being a photographer - the patience required, the willingness to put yourself out there for a better cause, the caring heart you need to have to help the people you capture in film, and the professional detachment you need to walk away from them. But not only does the film provide a view into a war photographer's life, which it does supremely well, it also shows us the life of the many people he works with and photographs. The lives these people lead are sometimes incredibly difficult, and both Nachtwey and Frei manage to capture them without any pretense. Just like someone else mentions in the reviews - this film was definitely one of the most profound movie watching experiences of my life. It has definitely affected me in very many ways. It's simply an amazing film - please watch it if you can."