September 13, 1898 [Shooting Captured Insurgents]

The atrocious continues matter-of-factly. The staging of the Spanish execution of insurgents, falling quietly for Cuba libre, reminds me of the Lumières' Démolition d'un mur: a bit of preparatory fussing, a tug and a raised arm, and down they tumble. The cinema already understands it can travel where it likes, even to Hell, but it still needs to find a way to express the nausea of the descent. The camera refuses to move—remains unmoved, if I may state the obvious—as it conspires to make history as it sees fit.

Soon, I think, cinema's steady gaze will begin to tilt on its axis, and respond with human gestures. But even that will be manufactured—and such manipulation of the camera may even prove the new imperialism, enthralling us with its mimetic truths, the puppets bobbing with more conviction than their models.


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