Documentary: "War and Peace"
By Christian Bartolf, author, activist and counsellor to conscientious objectors, Gandhi Information Center, Berlin, Germany.
Filmed over three tumultuous years in India, Pakistan, Japan and the U.S. following the 1998 nuclear tests, Anand Patwardhan's War and Peace (Jang aur Aman) is an epic documentary journey of peace activism in the face of global militarism and war.
Divided into six compelling chapters, the film is framed by the murder of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, an act whose portent and poignancy remain undiminished half a century later. For the filmmaker, whose family was immersed in the nonviolent Gandhian movement, the sub-continent's trajectory towards unabashed militarism is explored with sorrow, even as he continues to capture joyful moments of courage and resistance. Amongst these is a visit to the "enemy country" of Pakistan, where contrary to expectations, Indian delegates were showered by affection, not only by their Pakistani counterparts in the peace movement, but by ordinary citizens.
Examining the costs being extracted from citizens in the name of "national security," from the plight of residents living near the nuclear test site to the horrendous effects of uranium mining on local indigenous populations, it becomes abundantly clear that contrary to a myth first created by the U.S., there is no such thing as the "peaceful atom."
An extraordinary visit by Japanese survivors of the atom bomb to India and Pakistan following the nuclear tests, leads to a re-examination of events that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was it "necessary"? American historians who gathered the facts five decades later and attempted to present them at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC found their voices suppressed by a nation that did not want to know.
War and Peace slips seam-lessly from a description of home made jingoism to focus on how an aggressive U.S. has become a role model, its doctrine of "might is right" only too well-absorbed by aspiring Third World elites. As we enter the 21st century, war has become perennial, enemies are re-invented, economies are inextricably tied to the production and sale of weapons and in the moral wastelands of the world, memories of Gandhi seem like a mirage that never was, created by our thirst for peace and our very distance from it.
For more information about the film maker and his work, see http://www.patwardhan.com
Or contact him directly by email: firstname.lastname@example.org