Today: February 22, 2024

Shooting Robert King

A rich portrait of a war photographer who steals your heart as he grows before your eyes.

A rich portrait of a war photographer who steals your heart as he grows before your eyes.

If you have never heard of Robert King fear not, that is kind
of the point. King is a war photo-journalist who braved some of the
world’s fiercest conflicts in his determination to be a Pulizter Prize
winning journalist, something he declares that he will “either make it
or die trying”. This documentary charts King from his early days, when
he first arrived in Sarajevo, through to his current life and how his
struggle with his own inner demons ultimately made him the photographer
that he is.

On the surface Shooting might sound like a gruelling view. Indeed some of the images of the events that King witnessed throw up some horrific visuals. Director Rick Parry
perfectly captures the brutality of the wars in Sarajevo, Chechnya and
Iraq. What he does so well though is to understand the role the
photographer plays in these environments. As King begins to get his
pictures published in newspapers, Parry shows that the war photographer
is often overlooked in the grand scheme of things, yet they put their
lives on the line to document these moments in history. This is
highlighted when we see one of King’s photographs, in a national
newspaper, next to a photo of Liz Hurley. Here are people trying to draw
attention to events that the majority of the world fail to care about.

It is not all hard hitting reality though. What makes Shooting Robert King such a rewarding viewing experience is King himself.
Chronicling his first days in Sarajevo we see that here is a naïve
young man who struggles to understand the implications of the events he
has set out to photograph. He fails to name the President of Serbia,
wears the wrong type of clothing, a white shirt is perfect sniper fodder
and camouflage trousers are like a red rag to a bull at check-points. He possess almost Forrest Gump levels of comical ignorance but he is endlessly endearing and good-natured. His smile and outlook are infectious to both the audience and those that encounter him.

While the more experienced photographers in Sarajevo deride King for
his rookie mistakes, he soon begins to find success with his work.
Bagging the front page of UK’s The Guardian, it transpires that King,
despite his more jovial approach, has talent. As his friend and
colleague, and also co-producer of this film, Vaughn Smith
believed that King was likely to get himself killed but later on became a
‘safe pair of hands’ for those wishing to hire him. It is only some
time into the film that we see King’s photos and they are staggering,
perfectly rendering the brutality and devastation of the conflicts in a
single moment.

Shooting Robert King is a film that is inspirational in its honest
portrayal of a normal person in extraordinary circumstances. A
fascinating and warm look at a man, rife with his own demons who openly
admits that he went to these wars because he could never free himself
from his own internal conflict. The closing moments of King,
surrounded by those men who thought he would never make it, is testament
to a truly remarkable individual.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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