Global Haywire

Global Haywire


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This semi-animated documentary about the state of the world is showing as part of the Australian Film Festival, however, it could just as easily have been screening as part of the Human Rights Watch Festival, such is the nature of the subject matter.

Veteran political satirist and cartoonist Bruce Petty takes a look at the East/West problems currently facing the world and – with the aid of some coruscating cartoons and an impressive list of talking heads – tries to set them in historical context.

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His animation style, in a similar style to the madcap drawings of Quentin Blake, is perfectly suited to depicting the world gone wrong. He takes as a jumping off point the idea that back in “dark ages” of Europe, Christianity was as fundamental as some minority Islamic extremists are now – killing and torturing all those who didn’t subscribe to their viewpoint. Islam, on the other hand, was a much more enlightened faith, more flexible and all-embracing. The film goes on to show how, through a series of deft moves, largely involving colonialism, cash and indiscriminate violence, the West went on to stack the dice so heavily that, through a series of injustices, we find ourselves on the collision course now playing itself out in parts of the Middle East and Africa.

Petty uses the idea of the world being a big “freedom vehicle” – with the West on the A deck and East in B Deck – which is, quite frankly, “never going to fly”. His transportation theme stretches throughout the documentary and, while occasionally the metaphors become a little stretched, on the whole this emphasis on humour and simplification helps his cause.

It is, in fact, the film’s simplicity that is its strength. While the great and the good including Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali and Robert Fisk offer historical context on everything from the International Monetary Fund to the carving up of Ireland and the World Bank, there is also plenty of input from ‘regular’ folk, such as students in Lebanon and the UK. All is overlaid with the melifluous tones of our very own Tom Baker.

The result is a multi-layered picture offering both fact and commentary. The animation, however, is the film’s masterstroke. By injecting such serious issues with a killer dosage of humour, Petty keeps the whole thing energised and interesting, making it perfect for those who hate more ‘academically’ ponderous fare. If you’re wondering how we in the western world came to be at loggerheads with so many other countries, this – while not fully comprehensive – is certainly a fine introduction.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2008
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Quirky, partially animated documentary looking at the relationship between the East and West. Touring.

Director: Bruce Petty

Writer: Bruce Petty

Starring: Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Gore Vidal

Year: 2006

Runtime: 82 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


Australia 2008

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