War & Peace: the film

War & Peace

DAD commissioned Dominic de Vere to make a “project film” for their War & Peace project, asking him to make a piece of work that was both documentation and a work in its own right. The resulting 30-minute film is an intelligent response to the brief as well as a fascinating new piece of work by the artist/filmaker on the theme.

From the top of those decaying pyramids to the sea, we have a chain of facts which clearly demonstrate that the materials of the wasted mountains have travelled through the rivers; for, in every step of this progress, we may see the effect, and thus acknowledge the proper cause. We may often even be witness to the action; but it is only a small part of the whole progress that we may thus perceive, nevertheless it is equally satisfactory as if we saw the whole; for, throughout the whole of this long course, we may see some part of the mountain moving some part of the way. What more can we require? Nothing but time. It is not any part of the process that will be disputed; but, after allowing all the parts, the whole will be denied; and, For what?—only because we are not disposed to allow that quantity of time which the ablution of so much wasted mountain might require.

Though the experience of man goes for nothing in this progress of things, yet, having principles in matter of fact from whence he may reason back into the boundless mass of time already elapsed, it is impossible that he can be deceived in concluding that here is the general operation of nature wasting and wearing the surface of the earth for the purposes of this world, and giving the present shape of things, which we so much admire in the contrast of mountains and plains, of hills and valleys, although we may not calculate with accuracy, or ascribe to each particular operation every individual appearance. (James Hutton: Theory of the Earth; or an investigation of the laws observable in the composition, dissolution, and restoration of land upon the Globe)

Responses to the film

  • Thanks for that very beautiful film. We hold on looking at it without a second being away. It is your interpretation of “War and peace in Dover”. It’s your own vision of the topic. Most brillant because you use the DAD “War and peace” events (music, talks, art works, artists at work) but you are not reporting about that. You show the city being stigmatized by war and by the idea of war, the city with the actual frenetic flow of trafic, the city plowed with the work of artists.
    The bare lights in the Redoubt : they are steadily lit for some reason… As you don’t know why they are lit, you can imagine they are lit for a current activity as well as for soldiers of the old times. The way it is filmed, and edited, – points of vue, colours, voices, sounds – is pregnant. Continuously mixing souvenirs with living people, damaged war time documents with current situations, or shifting from one to others.
    People working, talking, all focused on their own issues. Calm strengh and intensity of the working process over the city. The long discourse at the beginning of the film has that quality, so has Joanna mixing the pigments with the egg, so have the hands sowing a work of art, or so have, on the top of the stairs in the Drop Redoubt, the two men who are quietly talking for a while and who then, and only then, switch off the lights of the fort (one is French, the other is English, and at the same moment the voice talks of fear of french invaders)… Chacun est à sa place, chacun laboure… Everyone is in the right place, ploughing is carrying on.
    The camera doesn’t run after sensational events or doesn’t try to create any. Doesn’t even record the events in themselves. The camera is there, showing deep human processes. I think I understand a lot of things in your film and with it, Dominic. (Nicolette Picheral)
  • A very thoughtful piece. (Margaret Sheehy)
  • Seen it today marvellous!! (Dawn Maddison)
  • I watched it last night and I really liked it from a visual and almost meditative perspective. I was not sure that I understood it all completely, but maybe one is not supposed to understand it totally in the way that one could understand Watermark more directly? Is that the case? It seemed like a collage of elements about the place of Dover observed almost from a macro perspective both in terms of time and space………. (James Burn)
  • Its quite loaded, a lot to take in, but really nice. I particularly like the bit about permission and terrorists, that jovial fellow talking about photographing. The digital landscapes were really nice too, using google-earth instead of the real to highlight the reality and fiction of war – Baudrillard famously commented that the gulf war did not take place, and it reminded me of this – that what we see is stylized, selective misrepresentation of war. We see atrocities through highly edited media, complete propoganda – the reality of war for us in the West is completely fictionalised through the government and the media. Very nice, well done on a great film. (Toby Huddlestone)