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A Blameless Crime?


March 14, 2022 by coelhoce

The common theme of the two stills is blame. While one points more to a figure that must be held accountable (who is to blame) the other has to do more with “Is this who is to blame?” The entirety of Inextinguishable Fire covers the topic heavily, with the use of direct speech to the camera, or breaking the fourth wall as well as camera angles.

In the first still, Harun Farocki addresses the camera, often looking down at the paper that he is reading then back up at the camera again. The way in which the topic he is speaking on, which would be napalm, is shown to be like a public service announcement. The way that he addresses the situation is very stern, as if saying “who would stand for such a horrid thing?” The camera angle is a medium shot at eye level with Farocki, making it feel as though one is sitting in the room with him, interview style. It makes it almost unnerving considering the setting. A blank white room with only a man sitting in a chair at a table. The choice drives the point home more, making Farocki’s conviction in blaming the US more apparent.

The second still is shot in a different way, a high angle shot that has a larger view than the previous, but the woman still breaks the fourth wall just as Farocki did. This still invokes more questions rather than giving a clear answer on blame. The woman is a chemist who worked on the development of napalm, but she asks why she is to blame, as she is not the one who used it to burn people alive. The question makes for conflicting thoughts for the viewer, as the film has given people to point fingers at for the terrible uses of the chemical. It makes one wonder, “was it the chemists who made napalm? Or the people who used it?”


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