The Fourth World War DVD review [Big Noise]

Film / Video Reviews
The Fourth World War DVD review [Big Noise]
Sep 5, 2006, 17:43

THE FOURTH WORLD WAR directed by Rick Rowley; Big Noise Films, 2005 DVD

This documentary/essay has but one simple purpose: to recruit soldiers for street conflicts between protesters and the military forces that fight to maintain an oppressive status quo. It's a well-intentioned effort, full of fiery riot footage, interspersed with dire statistics, and sternly narrated by Suheir Hammad and Spearhead's Michael Franti. Surely, after watching The Fourth World War, you will be outraged.

Internal conflicts, however, force The Fourth World War to reveal cracks in its own theoretical armor. Even as it aims to inspire new radicals to charge the riot-cop barricades, the film admits many protests, marches, and populist uprisings achieve nothing—governments and corporations connive to consolidate power into the hands of a ridiculous few, and the voices of the masses have increasingly less relevance and clout. The Battle of Seattle? The G8 summit protests in Genoa, Italy? The millions of anti-war protesters crying for peace before the US launched its current calamity in Iraq? All failures. We can raise a million shouts, it seems, but the governments need only a few small troop battalions to crush our tongues with violence. If protesters overrun one position, it is only because the police—masked, thirsting for blood, and invulnerable with their tanks, submachine guns and shields—choose not to shoot the holy hell out of them. This doesn't mean one should keep docile and quiet. But physical empowerment is practically impossible in the face of such overwhelming power.

In the eyes of this reviewer, the conflict against tyrannical military regimes and inhuman fiscal policies will not be won with bodies and weapons. Today's über-politicians don't care about The People as humans, only as consumers. Leaders can only be convinced through the one language they understand: money. The film's confidence in the ultimate success of marches and riots is charming, but seems an anachronistic and romantic ode to the concept of revolution rather than the realities of today's political climate. Just as the United States must rethink its outdated military strategies in a misguided “war on terror,” so too must the filmmakers rethink their own idea of how a revolution can truly be won. By all means, though, watch The Fourth World War and choose your fight. The world needs more outrage and this is as good an instigator as any.

-J. Graham

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