Rick King's documentary "Voices in Wartime" is a moving film about the poetry inspired by war throughout history. Poetry has been connected to the war experience since recorded time with evidence from as early as ancient Babylon times. In addition to spotlighting war poetry the filmmakers interview journalist Chris Hedges, psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, an historian, a soldier, and others, to get to the heart of the nature of war.
Some of the evocative poetry of Homer, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes are performed. Contemporary poets -- like Vietnam vet, David Connolly, a passionate Iraqi poet, Ali Habash, currently living in war-ravaged Baghdad, Sampurna Chattarji from India, and Alexandra Sanya., a 9 year-old from Boston – recite their own heartrending poems.
In early 2003 Laura Bush sent out invitations to poets for a White House event honoring the Great American poets Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. When widely published poet Sam Hamill received his invitation he thought it was important to express his protest about the Iraq War – after all, none of the three poets to be honored would stay quiet. He and others couldn't believe Mrs. Bush chose the time right before the war to hold this event. Hamill sent out requests to 50 colleagues to send him poems expressing their feelings about the war. He intended to forward them to Mrs. Bush. Within 36 hours Hamill received over 1,500 poems. He published them on his group's website, Poets Against War. Mrs. Bush hastily and inexplicably cancelled the poetry event.
The film is unabashedly anti-war. It turns out to be more than a film but also the seeds of a movement for changing the way people view war and for helping to heal the trauma caused by war. The "Voices in Wartime" website offers "The Healing and Support Network" and ways to help support the movement and create awareness and social change.
Former war correspondent for the "N.Y. Times," Chris Hedges says that in the kinds of wars we fight today, civilians are the primary victims and that the only way to understand war is to understand it through the eyes of the victims. "Civilians are pawns that are seen as collateral."
This documentary film is one that I would include in a curriculum of required war education for every voter in this country, or in the world for that matter.
For Movie Magazine, this is Joan Widdifield.
© 2005 - Joan K. Widdifield, Psy.D - Air Date: 4/27/05
Voices in Wartime
(2005) Directed by Rick King