In October of this year, i took my elderly parents to Belgium. Like many of his generation, my father, having lived through a world war, retains a keen interest in the events and stories of both the global military conflicts which have come to define the 20th Century.
We shuffled round the war museum in Ypres, trudged through a stretch of surviving trench in the fields beyond the city, and with dusk falling, wandered silently between the gravestones of a cemetery dedicated to the fallen of the Great War.
Having visited these places, taken the pictures, and gathered the footage I decided to put together my own reflection on World War I, or “the war to end all wars” as it became known.
As often with projects of this sort, the scope widened out from the originating idea and become a more general observation on warmongering.
The means to conduct battle may have become more sophisticated, and the legal justifications to wage it more ideological, but the aberration in human collective behaviour which resorts so readily to killing other people as a way of resolving conflict persists. It is an instinct which shames us all, and especially so after the visceral horrors of our recent history.
At a time when we are encouraged to remember the particular sacrifices of our own countrymen in the defence of a perceived good, there is also an urgent need to consider the loss and waste of all the victims of war, and to recognise the reality of the greater battle; one which goes beyond patriotism and politics.