What sets Robert Fisk apart from the rest is he’s on the ground and in the middle of the action. He is amazingly able to travel (sometimes) to both sides of a conflict and personally eyewitness the event from both perspectives. This is the heart of This is Not a Movie. Turn on the news…literally right now…and you see that tensions with the Middle East have never been higher. Whether you watch Fox News, CNN, or any other Western outlets, you’re getting only part of the story and it’s usually the part that fits some sort of political agenda…right or left.
My biggest takeaway from Fisk’s life is that the Middle East is an incredibly complicated region to understand politically. Also, what I’m being told on every news channel is not necessarily what is actually happening in that situation. Cameras show that as governments talk war, conflict, and nuclear weapons of the enemy, the average citizen wants peace as their particular religion demands.
The second takeaway is the role of journalism, and that’s simply, to tell the truth and present the facts. The truth is the truth, but for Fisk, it becomes a double-edged sword. For example, when the Syrian government used chemical weapons in 2018 on the city of Douma, it caused the death of 40 to 50 people. Fisk quickly moves into Douma to cover the devastation and is unable to find evidence that chemicals were actually used. He concludes that the images, we were given on television, may have either been a harmless dust storm or doctored footage.
“…the idea that because he empathizes with the people of the Middle East, that does not make him pro-terrorist.”
Just by questioning the “facts” of the attack, Fisk would be branded pro-terrorist, which is the third takeaway. Fisk is one of the few journalists willing to talk to and tell the stories of average citizens. He loathes the word “terror” and finds himself empathetic to the people on the other side of the conflict. He’s not necessarily saying the West is evil, the East is good…or vice-versa. What he is doing is telling their side of the story and letting us know what these people think of the United States from their point of view. Fisk fights hard to dispel the idea that because he empathizes with the people of the Middle East, that does not make him pro-terrorist. In fact, by just presenting the facts, he’s been labels pro- and anti-everyone unfairly from all sides. After forty years of name-calling, he no longer gives a damn.
I definitely have pretty strong opinions about my country’s conflict with the Middle East. Yes, I formed that opinion based on what I see and read in the news and from all the vitriol from both sides of the aisle. This is Not a Movie is a direct challenged to my beliefs and views, and that’s a good thing as it’s always good to question everything. Ultimately, the truth is essential…not your truth and not mine, but the actual truth. I may not agree with many of the same stuff Robert Fisk believes, but I do admire and respect how far he’s willing to go for the truth. After seeing This is Not a Movie, I hope you will too.
This is Not a Movie screened at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
"…after forty years of name-calling, he no longer gives a damn."