San Francisco Bay Guardian

  Apr. 14 - Apr. 20, 2005• Vol. 39, No. 28

Voices in Wartime

Voices in Wartime may prove to be the most startlingly literate document of war ever created for film. Director Rick King (Hard Choices) interweaves passages of war-themed poetry -- new and old; from the famous, the infamous, and the unheard of -- with stock footage and stills from these violent episodes of our past.

The montage features disembodied voiceovers reciting both graphic and beautiful literary works from the likes of Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Siegfried Sassoon; coupled with interviews from a host of historians, soldiers, and experts which all work to illustrate how war and poetry are invariably intertwined.

The editing is crisp, often layering upon itself an array of images with interviews and narrative. One particularly memorable interviewee who returns throughout the film is General William Lennox, West Point's Super, who offers a surprisingly sensitive take on poetry's importance as a means to better understand armed conflict. Whoever said that poetry is only read by poets might do best to reconsider. (1:14) Lumiere, Shattuck. (Lake)