DIR: Tadhg O’Sullivan
Tadhg O’Sullivan’s interpretation of life within the migrant camps around Europe is both visually stunning and extremely relevant.
The film delves deep into the many problems that those living within these huge foreboding walls and camps face. Poverty runs rife, and the depiction of a young mother with her entire family living in one squalid room is one of the most poignant moments of this film. It is a first hand, honest look at what these people go through on a daily basis.
Throughout, O’Sullivan chooses to have no dialogue, just narration over extremely contrasting images of high rises, and beautiful cities and then back to the camps and their inhabitants. This highlights the widening gap between rich and poor. It brings to the fore the question “How can there be so much wealth and so much poverty within the same countries?”
In certain points, it seems as if these Walls are personified; they have a personality and it is that of control and power. The people within must surrender to these all-powerful constructions.
We are shown that life within these Walls can be so horrendous, that some prefer to live as outcasts, in old outposts. The squalid conditions appear to be equally devastating, but overcrowding is not so much of a problem. But again, there is no living, merely existing. The quality of life is minimal.
Despite the hardships of these people, there seems to be a strong sense of community, and children are always smiling. One may think that this is perhaps because of the presence of the camera, or perhaps they are so used to it that this way of life is merely normal to them. Either way, The Great Wall highlights the resilience of children, despite their surroundings.
Perhaps giving some of the characters a voice may have emphasised their plight, but in a way it was an excellent move to leave them voiceless. Because this is what they are; caught up in a situation that is the stuff of nightmares, completely displaced from all that they know, and with little or no hope for the future, and without a say or any control over their own lives.
This visually stunning and thought provoking look at how the other half live is in parts guided by Kafka’s short story The Great Wall. This compliments the many visions of despair and loneliness perfectly, and adds a sort of emotion that may have been lacking without.
There are constantly news stories about migrants and refugees but this gives a deeper understanding of what it is like within these walls that now are so rampant.
A must for anyone with an interest in human rights and current affairs, and film lovers alike, The Great Wall is unlike anything I have seen in recent memory.