Open City Documentary: The Great Wall – Review

Immigration is high on everyone’s minds at the moment. We are truly gripped by the debate. In the UK, a tentative battle between sides sees the throes of people looking to find solace in less dangerous countries thrust into political and heated arguments. As Leave and Remain camps rage on with their views, hoping to sway the public to make a deafening vote this coming Thursday, the future of immigrants, migrants, and all the messiness in between will be irreversibly decided. With the hot topic burning our tongues and statuses, it’s natural that artists and film-makers will gravitate towards the issue, opening the debate up onto the big screen and allowing audiences to enter the fight with a more informed mind.
The Great Wall is a short documentary that focuses on the influx of desperate people trying to find escape in supposedly more peaceful countries.

Focusing specifically on the migrant crisis in Europe, the film looks at the barriers built to battle against the problem including metal meshes, government imposed procedures, intense guards, and old fashioned brick and mortar that have been erected by E.U. States such as England and Germany. With an overlay narration of Franz Kafka’s The Building of the Great Wall of China (in its original German) the film coasts along the Mediterranean and into the metropolitan hubs of power as director Tadhg O’Sullivan looks at those who impose political law and those who suffer from it.

Using a mesh of vivid images that juxtapose one another, Tadhg O’Sullivan’s evocative film establishes a somewhat surreal yet utterly engaging cinematic piece on migration. Focusing on the landscapes that hold key players of the “battle,” The Great Wall echoes elements of struggle, desperation, and ruthlessness.

The preamble of visuals, cities toppled by skyscrapers and homes twisting in the dust, leaves a searing image of the world as it is now. Balancing CCTV footage of people helplessly fleeing and trying to enter through any means possible, an ebb of uncontrollable empathy will flow through you. As humans, the scenes should  undoubtedly grip you as this vivid work soars on the screen. Enhanced by Kafka’s visionary work, Tadhg O’Sullivan drawling cycle of cities, shanty towns, and walls gain more pulp and meaning as our own humanity and views are tackled.

But it feels important to note that not all measures are catastrophic such as screenings to make sure criminally active folk aren’t processed into a country or to stop illegal trades of drugs, guns, and people. Somehow The Great Wall says so much without delving into interviews with principle people, making the film a truly intense and original watch.

The Great Wall offers no real political side but serves as a foundation for your own views. Are you shocked and dismayed at the site of barbed wire fences preventing people from reaching safety or comfort? Or are you shocked at the rallies of immigrants illegally crossing and posing possible dangers? The Great Wall is certainly a precipice of great discussion.

As someone who believes in an empathic and borderless world where we are open, kind, generous, and constructive with one another and each and every person on the globe, I know my particular take away from The Great Wall.


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