Winter on Fire Is The Best Kind of Documentary
Yes. I am late to the game. The Oscars are over and here I am, just finally getting a chance to see Winter On Fire, which was nominated for best documentary. But every year I use the Oscar list as a good way to find movies I’ve never heard of before or would have never noticed if they hadn’t been nominated. Granted, I find plenty of documentaries every year that are worth watching elsewhere. But regardless, everywhere I pick through the for sale items of movies that have been cast aside and not given awards and inevitably find a treasure trove of great picks there for the viewing.
I’ve talked about this before, documentaries wind my clock. I know that some of you don’t get documentaries. I know this because occassionally I attempt to play a podcast for my three kids and the responses are universally… YES! NO! with a swing vote based on the content. So I know there are at least three types of you out there. Some that adore podcasts, documentaries and learning. Some that can take it or leave it. And others that run screaming from the room. But I’m guessing, that if you are the latter group, as opposed to the former two, you didn’t even click in here in the first place. If, on the off chance, you wandered in here and don’t like documentaries, I’ve got one paragraph to pitch you on the idea. Here’s what I like about podcasts and documentaries.
By listening to podcasts like 99% Invisible, Radiolab, Serial, and Reply All, we gain access to knowledge and topics you couldn’t possibly have known anything about before you listened. By listening to podcasts like 99% Invisible you get a window into expertise that you’d never get otherwise. I recently started pilfering Hulu’s random well of documentaries and that’s about it. It’s by watching these sorts of documentaries that you learn all about Philippe Petit and his obsession with high-wire walking in a way that is so much better than anything Hollywood could ever produce.
Aren’t people interesting to you? Aren’t stories fascinating to you? But if you aren’t a fan of documentaries it’s probably because someone is droning on and on and on over the top of all those pretty pictures. But if you tend not to be very curious or inquisitive, this just isn’t going to be your space. But I would challenge you to dive deeper into this arena. To investigate. To ask why. But enough about the meta-conversation in general. Enough about why documentaries.
So the movie of the day is Winter on Fire. And before I watched the movie I knew generally about the problem. I knew about the history of the U.S.S.R. and the Ukraine. I knew that chaos was happening back in 2014, as a good friend of mine was attempting to get into the Ukraine to meet with developers and his team, but wasn’t able to go. But didn’t really understand why. I knew that chaos was happening there, but I didn’t know why or what. It’s kind of how I feel about Syria right now. I know that it is awful there… that Russia and USA are both having field days there. But it’s all very very unclear.
But enter Winter on Fire and holy cow was that an eye opener. And I can succinctly clarify the situation for you in one strategically crafted sentence… “The Ukrainian people were done connecting with Russia while the Ukrainian politicians were secretly making deals to realign with Mother Russia.” If that isn’t a formula for violent unrest, I don’t know what is.
And that is basically the long and short of it. We watch this violence unfold unpredictably and incredibly from the very front lines. I am not exactly sure who shot this footage, but they were basically crazy. While watching we see several people shot, a couple die on screen. That’s more than could be said about Afghanistan War Documentary Restrepo. Not that deaths on screen is a value add, I’m just saying that this movie is very very close to the action that is whirling around our heads as we watch.
Day after day goes by as the situation goes from bad, to worse, and from worse to terrible. It’s really quite surprising to see how the movie ends actually… especially seeing as though I knew the what, but I didn’t know the how. (I’ll keep from mentioning the what specifically in case you don’t know. Better to just watch it unfold if you don’t know the exact details of the story’s end.)
It is an amazing movie that really should be required watching for everyone around the world – mainly because it would all make us better global citizens to have watched it. But it is also riveting. It is monumental in it’s scope and breadth. Watch it. You’ll see what I mean. If you already have seen it… what did you think? I’d really like to know your thoughts.