UK / France, 1994 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)
Director: Marcel Ophuls
Marcel Ophuls has an unbeatable opening to The Troubles We've Seen: A History of Joumalism in Wartime: the true story of how World War II was declared on the very day his father, Max Ophuls, was directing a scene in the costume drama From Maijerling to Sarajevo in which the disgruntled Prinzip ("I forget if he was Serb or Croatian", Ophuls tells the camera) shot Archduke Ferdinand, thereby setting off the first World War. Ophuls then postulates that there's no end to meaningful coincidences or to history itself and his rigorous pursuit of truth—in all its manifestations—here crisscrosses the twentieth century in a disenchanted, often wildly eclectic examination of the war reporter's role in the construction of history, news and entertainment. At the epicentre of Troubles We've Seen is Bosnia and Sarajevo's Holiday Inn, home to the foreign press corps—a master of the juxtaposition of disparate imagery. Ophuls peppers his documentary with irreverent film references, including clips of Bing Crosby's 1942 musical Holiday Inn. Following the British, French and North American journalist teams through the embattled capital, we witness the high-risk dangers; are shown their conflicted attitudes as they passionately debate issues of 'neutrality', 'distortion' and censorship in relation to their work; and reflect on their often questionable influence on public opinion and the politics of their native countries.