Sidetracks: Roger Ebert’s review of 84 Charlie MoPic

1 09 2008

The premise of the movie is that a documentary (“mopic”) is being made about a patrol, and all of the footage in the film is seen through a camera being carried along by a filmmaker assigned to the unit.

It’s a style that makes the action feel immediate and unrehearsed; the soldiers address the camera as if they’re talking to the man who’s carrying it, and the effect is that they’re talking to us. The strength here is that the movie seems to happen as we watch it. (…)

The first-person point of view has rarely been used for an entire film (Robert Montgomery made the camera into a private eye in “Lady in the Lake,” and Orson Welles once wanted to film “Heart of Darkness” through the eyes of various protagonists, including a bird), but Duncan’s angle in “84 Charlie MoPic” is intriguing: By explaining the presence of the camera, he gives a realistic basis to the technique, instead of using it as pure style.(…)

The subjective camera is probably responsible for many of the weaknesses of “84 Charlie MoPic,” as well as its strengths. Duncan knows more about war than he knows about dramatic construction, and this shows in the way he builds the various relationships in the movie.

read the whole review

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