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The Image You Missed


Action / Biography / Documentary / History / War

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

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669.16 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 12 min
P/S ...
1.21 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 12 min
P/S 1 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by iainoconnor8 / 10

A collage of disconnection

I really enjoyed this film. It shows a disconnection between a father and son, a disconnection inherent in Ireland since it's colonisation by the British. A sense of Ireland's soul is refracted through these two filmmakers. A man and his son. A lot is left is unknown as much if not most things in life are more unknowable than any of us would probably care to admit. These are all random events lost in time that even framed as the grand narratives of times and nations will one day be forgotten and lost. Context removed like a father's abandoned films. They document occurrences, fragments of long lives we know nothing of. That's life. Reflective of Ireland and it's people.

Reviewed by s-152304 / 10

A really confusing film

I cannot find the link between the father-son relationship and the Northern Ireland politics. That makes it very hard to follow the logic of the slection of different documentary clips.

Reviewed by Bertaut4 / 10

Just didn't work for me

For me, if a documentary gets a theatrical release, there must be a tangible reason as to why. By that I mean, why was it released in the cinema, as opposed to on television, which, in terms of how audiences engage with the mediums, is a more natural home for the documentary form, where a film can find a much larger audience over a longer period of time. There needs to be something, anything, that makes the documentary inherently cinematic in some Wayne . The majority of documentaries don't provide such a reason. For example, two films that spring to mind are The Gatekeepers (2012) and Risk (2016). The Gatekeepers is about Shin Bet, whilst Risk tells the story of Julian Assange's self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The first, which I actually quite enjoyed as a documentary, is a series of visually drab talking-head interviews with the six still-living former-heads of Shin Bet, and the second is a poorly edited and narratively confused valorisation of its subject. Neither feature anything to justify their theatrical release. Compare this to documentaries as varied as, say, One Day in September (1999) or Ônibus 174 (2002), with their thriller-esque narratives, plot-twists, heroes, villains, and governmental corruption and conspiracy; The Fear of 13 (2015), which, despite consisting entirely of an interview with one person, is visually and aurally fascinating; Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), as aesthetically perfect a documentary as you're ever likely to see, especially if seen in the intended 3D format; or The Farthest (2017), with its awe-inspiring and deeply emotional story of the 1977 Voyager space probes.

I've spent this first paragraph giving a rather wordy introduction as I want to be clear about where I'm coming from regarding my problems with The Image You Missed - sadly, it is never able to justify its theatrical release; the whole time I was watching it, I was thinking to myself "why is this being shown in the cinema?" I say "sadly" because I really wanted to like it; it's a low budget documentary that takes a deeply personal approach to an inherently Irish political situation of which any Irish person over the age of thirty will have memories, and, depending on your political leanings, is either a source of great pride or deeply held shame. In short, there's a lot to root for here. Essentially, the film is a "dialogue" between director Dónal Foreman and his dead father, Arthur MacCaig. An Irish-American born in New Jersey in 1948, MacCaig came to Belfast as a tourist in the early years of the Troubles, and remained fascinated with the city and the political situation as a documentarian, living first in Paris, and eventually in Belfast itself. Interested in exploring the disparity between the tribal, religious-based conflict depicted in British and American media, with what he saw as a more non-sectarian struggle between "coloniser" and "colonised", MacCaig's unapologetically Republican stance soon earned him extraordinary access to the IRA (indeed, when he died, he had a pseudo-Republican funeral - Danny Morrison and Sinn Féin PRO Joe Austin spoke, whilst Gerry Adams attended).

MacCaig's best-known film is The Patriot Game (1979), a feature-length documentary made for French television, which uses street-interviews and IRA-insider material to chart the history of conflict in the province of Ulster from the formation of the Northern Irish state in 1922. Critically, the film was a modest international success, with The Chicago Reader's B. Ruby Rich calling it "the best overview of the Northern Irish conflict that we've seen," and The Village Voice's J. Hoberman citing it as "vivid, informative, and partisan." Closer to home, The Guardian's Kevin J. Kelley praised it for "debunking the twin myths that the IRA is a 'terrorist organisation' fighting 'a religious war'." As is mentioned in The Image You Missed, when the British Foreign Office warned its embassies that The Patriot Game was "damaging and highly critical of Her Majesty's Government," MacCaig welcomed it as "the best review I ever had."

MacCaig died in Belfast in 2008, when Foreman was 22. Raised in the North Strand area of Dublin by his mother, Foreman only met MacCaig a handful of times. Nevertheless, they had reconciled a few months before MacCaig died, and after the funeral, Foreman travelled to an apartment MacCaig owned in Paris to go through his belongings. Much to his surprise, he unearthed over one-hundred hours of never-before-seen documentary footage, and the idea for The Image You Missed was born, as Foreman essentially tries to engage in a conversation with MacCaig by way of cutting between MacCaig's footage and his own, directly addressing his dead father, and reading in voiceover letters written by MacCaig (indeed, the whole enterprise could be labelled epistolary in design).

In this sense, both the poster and the opening credit read "A Film Between Donal Foreman / Arthur MacCaig". Not "a film by", or "a film about", but "a film between". The official website describes the film as a "documentary essay", and this cannot be overemphasised. This is, at the most basic level, a film in which someone still living attempts to 'communicate' with someone already dead (although not, obviously, in a séance kind of way). With that in mind, the film has no discernible narrative as such, using editing to juxtapose, contrast, comment upon, and suggest thematic links between the footage shot by the father and that shot by the son. The narrative jumps back and forth fairly randomly amongst MacCaig's footage, employing what could be termed "thematic editing". There's also no real central character; the documentary is not 'about' either man in the classic sense of the term; it's about the space between them.

Unfortunately, for me, it just didn't work. Apart from the already alluded to lack of theatrical justification, which really can't be overstated, one of the biggest problems was the failure to contextualise anything on screen; the tendency to jump in and out of scenes without even remotely attempting to suture the viewer into the milieu. Granted, it makes no claims to be an informative historical overview, but the viewer still needs to be situated in some way, shape, or form in relation to what they're watching. Foreman doesn't use the backdrop of the Troubles to inform the dialogue between himself and MacCaig, but neither does he use that dialogue to inform the presentation of the Troubles, so the fact that the film is set in Belfast is, bizarrely, and quite paradoxically, kind of irrelevant. Foreman, however, has argued that the interaction between the personal and the political is a central connective tissue in the film; speaking to The Irish Times, he states, "If it had been just about my father and my relationship with my father, without those added layers about politics and history and cinema to engage with, I don't think I would have made the film. I saw his archive as a pretext to grapple with a lot of interesting questions and challenge myself as a film-maker to deal with political questions that I hadn't found a way to do in my films before." Unfortunately, there's little evidence of this in the film, with the Troubles never being examined beyond that of an intermittent surface-level presentation.

Tied to this is the single biggest issue I had with the film, a question I found myself asking after about twenty minutes - why should I, or anyone else, care that Foreman had a tough relationship with his father? Who doesn't? I wouldn't expect anyone to sit through a documentary in which I work out my daddy issues, not unless those issues speak to a more all-encompassing truth, and I'm really not sure why Foreman should be any different, as he certainly provides no such reason in the film. And precisely because he doesn't allow the personal and the political to inform one another, the film just comes across as a guy with a camera watching old footage shot by his dad.

Maybe I didn't respond correctly to the form, maybe I wasn't the target demographic (at the screening I attended, I was the youngest person in the cinema by a good ten or fifteen years at least, and I'm 40),I'm not sure, but whatever the case, I was just left wondering as to what the purpose of any of it was.

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