ISIS and the media’s means to its ends

MEDIA: Terrorism, film and propaganda: how ISIS adopted Western means of reaching an international audience.

Although Bottled Songs 1-4, a collaboration between Chloé Galibert-Laîné in France, and Kevin B. Lee in America, is heavy on artistic and cinematographic analysis, its ability to shock remains undimmed. An analysis of two videos shot by Islamic terrorist organization ISIS (otherwise known as Daesh) and their relationship with classic Western propaganda films of the 20th century – including Leni Reifenshahl’s 1935 Nazi hagiography Triumph of the Will and Joris Iven’s 1937 anti-fascist film The Spanish Earth – it contains disturbing triumphal footage shot by ISIS gunmen that includes the slaughter of innocent prisoners.

Bottled Songs 1-4, a desktop series by Chloé Galibert-Laîné, Kevin B. Lee
Bottled Songs 1-4, a desktop series by Chloé Galibert-Laîné, Kevin B. Lee

A detective story

Arranged into four chapters and using footage from ISIS videos (including a 52-minute ‘feature’ Flames of War released in 2014 that now can only be found via the Internet’s Darknet), classic propaganda, news channels, and real-time screenshots of the directors’ transatlantic online messaging, Bottled Songs 1-4 is as much a film school-style study of how to manipulate through images as a detective story on who – and why – shot the videos.

It opens with Chloé’s letter to Kevin about a video she found dated August 28, 2014, on Les Observateurs, the citizen journalism site of French-state-backed international television network, France 24. The video depicts the humiliation and murder of 250 Syrian prisoners of war marched wearing only their underwear to their mass execution by jubilantly . . .

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Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic. Journalist, writer, author. Works mostly from Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
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