Based on an Actual Event

Reynold Reynolds
USA 2003, 16 min
found footage

“It is not only daily life which has become cinematographic and televisual, but war as well. It has been said that war is the continuation of politics by other means; we can also say that images, media images, are the continuation of war by other means. Take Apocalypse Now.”

-Jean Baudrillard, The Evil Demon of Images

A three-channel video installation about the fictional portrayal of American military forces in 20th century war. While each film simulates an actual event, each new war simulates previous wars as shown in popular films. Conceptions of war become reality through the depiction of war as entertainment.

Scenes from over 50 films are compared.

” The fantastically brilliant Reynold Reynolds triple screen war movie melange at I-Beam on 22nd St. (Like 20 war movies boiled down to pure nasty visual splendor and hackneyed absurdist agony. He’s in something tonight- see list. I was very impressed with this video.)”
– Douglas Kelley (Douglas Kelley Show List)

New York Times “Based on an Actual Event”

This project is an exhaustive, comprehensive, look at the fictional portrayal of American forces in twentieth century war.

This installation piece projects onto 3 screens continuous loops composed of film clips from American war films. Missing from the clips are all references to a specific enemy or any elements of plot or character development. Through the use of three screens, different film clips interact and combine to show the mechanics, devices and subtext of the images. By selectively using only images of American soldiers out of context, the politically biased notions of American vs. Foreign, Good vs. Evil, and Us vs. Other are challenged, and a sense of the redundant presumptions inherent in the cinematic vocabulary of American war images is revealed. At times it seems that the WW2 soldiers are fighting the soldiers of Vietnam, or Platoon’s Vietnam is at war with Rambo’s Vietnam. Eventually all forces are fighting each other in an explosive show of “friendly fire”.

The piece shows the environment of fictional war, by using Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Rambo, Black Hawk Down (to name just a few). The images from more popular and widely seen films are used more extensively as they have had a greater influence in shaping public perception.
In all these popular films, the war genre serves as a propaganda tool leaving the impression that the American soldier is a hero proving himself in an adventure. Placing these images outside of their original context invites the audience to reevaluate these impressions and to challenge and question their responses to the genre.