Being an admirer of Don McCullin’s photography, this recent BBC documentary certainly appeased my viewing satisfaction.
Chronologically charting McCullin’s career photographing local teddy boys, Cyprus’ civil war, the Vietnam war and secular conflicts in Beirut, there is a deep appreciation to be had for McCullin’s extensive work in dangerous environments. Understanding the back-story of McCullin’s photographs was key to contemplate the situation he placed himself in as McCullin explained throughout the documentary. In particular lying to the CIA was a potentially hazardous decision but McCullin got the images he wanted. Such actions emphasis what a war photographer has to be for their work to be a stories’ core. It only goes to show McCullin’s bravery.
Simply learning about the locates of McCullin’s photographs would have been interesting enough but McCullin explained his working psychology. McCullin seemed to be a conflicted personality that only fascinates my interest more as McCullin felt the thrill of being amidst violent conflict yet horrified by his subjects’ reality. As he explained “it’s a very fine line” between his work and the subject’s lives which from time to time blurred McCullin’s reasoning.
This is a compelling documentary about the psychology, morality and contextualisation of McCullin’s work that is equally satisfying as an admirer and a brilliant introduction for those unaware of McCullin.