Thursday, March 02, 2006


James Miller Death In Gaza Directed by James Miller
Starring James Miller
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

Just About Average...


If this documentary had been finished, and its primary film maker not killed, I have no doubt it would’ve been a very powerful spectacle to behold. James Miller (documentarian extraordinaire) was killed by Israeli soldiers before he had a chance to finish the film, but before he died Miller had uncovered some startling realities around the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. His focus was to be of the children on both sides of this ongoing battle but his death left the documentary unfinished and, thus, unbalanced.

The entire focus was on the Palestinian children and how the Israeli tanks, daily bulldozing of houses near the Gaza Strip, and the fanatical behavior of militants-cum-martyrs has eaten away at common sense. Although this is undeniably so, the fact that ONLY the Palestinian side was shown gives the film a very uneven keel. Had someone picked up where Miller left it, I feel that the energy of its final impact would’ve been staggering and given even more relevance to Miller’s life and, ultimately, untimely death. This is easy for me to say, sitting here at my computer, typing away, but that’s how I see it as a film, not as a personal assault on any moral values I hold for (or against) the Israeli’s or the Palestinians.

I guess my main problem with the film was that it was trying to show "why" Miller was there (i.e., the effect this "lifestyle" has on a kids), while at the same time showing what a dedicated documentary-maker he was and how that ultimately ended up killing him. This pulled the viewer away from what should have been the focus -- the kids -- and put the emphasis on Miller. Why? I'm not sure.

I’m not going to take any credit away from Mr. Miller or Mrs. Shah. They’re both able film makers and camera-folk. Their shots are often equally incisive, poignant, and gruesome. But the fact that this film remains unfinished is the biggest shame. Perhaps that’s the message they wanted to get across ...that the documentary was left undone, just as Miller’s life was. But this doesn’t translate to film very well, especially when dealing with such a volatile subject matter.

No movie trailer available. Sooorrrry!


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