Irradiated is not an easy film to watch. Arranged in a formalistic manner with the screen split into three vertical screens on which mostly the same images are displayed, this study of the corrosive power of human evil is both compelling and repulsive. Director Rithy Panh, who experienced the pain of his own country’s descent into madness, mayhem, and murder under Pol Pot, uses the stream of images ranging from the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through images of the devastation of trench warfare of a century ago, to the banal evil of the Nazi concentration camps and cultural revolutions of China and Cambodia, in a manner that is almost hypnotic.
The film, which follows a path winding forward and backward across a tortured landscape of human pain, is accompanied by a dialogue between an unseen male and female narrator that is a drumbeat to the relentless images of burnt bodies, discarded skulls, and eviscerated bowels.
The winner of a Berlinale Golden Bear for best documentary earlier this year, Irradiated is a timely reminder of …
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