film 6 of 7

Fires Were Started

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

How many three and five year olds have sat all the way through this, and liked it? myself, I’ve tended to side with the GU students who find it painful, though I’m too respectful to be as impolite as they are about it, sided there, that is, until this time, when I finally got what should have been obvious before, the formerly boring clearing outs and phoning ins and polishing ups are proper Flaherty-like studies of the little processes that constitute the existence of common folks, the processes which, when plied skilfully and carefully, become beautiful and become art, the fire house hijeenks are another sophisticated picture of class differences reconciled amidst conflict, the conflict itself, which is dramatically filmed but full of a difficult and admirable restraint, and which is quite pointedly anti-dramatic, is like Dreyer or something, compare with something like Backdraft, with its hysterical manliness, fraternal conflicts and contrived romances, and you can only admire; as for Barnouw’s point about the evil humans responsible for this mess portrayed as plain natural disasters, not worth the trouble to identify or the hate that that identification would generate, it’s still extremely moving, and it’s still there