Monday, August 14, 2006

Part 7 - Act 4: Caught in the act!

To this Act, originally of one scene, we have added another, both of which conform to the descriptive title, "caught in the act". In each case, the intended video sequences look natural enough and it is only when you see the full, uncut footage that you realise what is going on.

Scene 1

For this short first scene, the investigative work has been done for us. In the early stages of the investigation, this blog was very much doing the running, posting evidence of staging as we uncovered it. But then the German television station NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) ran a short piece of footage, repeated on the German Zapp video magazine. Thus has subsequently been uploaded onto the "U-tube" site and the link to the video is above.

The video shows raw footage taken at Qana on 30 July and, unlike our work, which relies on making inferences from material assembled from different sources, this single piece actually showed "Green Helmet" staging a scene in front of the camera and giving directions to the camera operator.

Briefly, because the full scenario can be seen on the video link, the Act starts in the area above "Stretcher Alley", where a body in a stretcher is being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Interestingly, in the right foreground is that familiar figure, the man in the pale green shirt, watching the proceedings while "Green Helmet" is in the centre of the picture, his orange jacket just visible, slightly to right of centre.

As the sequence develops and the stretcher is loaded, "Green Helmet" is told that there is a television crew filming. In this shot, he walks towards the camera, giving directions to the crew, an unmistakable circular motion with his finger, instructing the operator to "keep on filming".

Such is the deceit of the man that he then seeks to disguise the instruction by continuing his hand upwards, pretending to adjust his glasses.

Once he has the crew's attention, "Green Helmet" returns to the ambulance and an empty litter is produced. The body - which we later see to be that of a young girl - is then withdrawn from the ambulance and transferred, completely unnecessarily, to the empty litter. Once this process is complete, "Green Helmet" then obligingly clears onlookers out of the way and beckons the camera operator to come closer.

As the camera continues filming, "Green Helmet" then pulls down the blanket covering the body to give a clear shot and a close-up opportunity.

Interestingly, in the previous "grab", we see the actions being witnessed by a man in the background dressed in a white helmet and blue flak jacket, with a "press" label on the front. In this frame, he has turned away, but he and the rest of the onlookers must have been well aware of what was going on.

In the final frames of the sequence, we see the camera zooming in for a close-up. As the subtitle indicates - added by the "Zapp" magazine, roughly translating the German - this is the abuse of a dead child.

Crucially, it also shows "Green Helmet" to be opportunistic and totally without scruples. He knowingly exploits the camera presence to displaying his grisly trophies. His actions betray a media awareness that strongly supports a contention that the man knows exactly what he is doing in front of a camera and contradicts any suggestion that the poses we see in the previous parts are merely spontaneous displays by a concerned rescue worker. We see here a cold, calculating man and nothing at all spontaneous in his actions.

Scene 2

The same cynicism and calculation is seen in this second scene. What you are meant to see is the first frame, where the television camera lingers on the abandoned body of a man, as scene pregnant with pathos, so laden with symbolism that even the hardest of hearts could not fail to be moved. The Arab TV station which showed this scene, however, was perhaps too enthusiastic for its own good. In a long clip, of over seven minutes, it then went on to show this separate sequence, starting at 6:45 minutes.

The sequence opens with "Green Helmet" leading a stretcher party towards "Stretcher Alley", comprising himself and two others. As he does so, he spots the camera and stops the party in its tracks. Facing the camera, he appears to give the operator a signal while he and his colleagues lower the stretcher to the ground. There can be no mistaking the deliberation in the act - "Green Helmet" is quite clearly looking directly towards the camera.

Thus we see the party lay the stretcher on the ground, "Green Helmet" all the time keeping his gaze on the camera. There is no verbal sound track to this film (it is overlaid with Arabic music) so we cannot tell if "Green Helmet" gives an order - not that we would have understood it anyway. But what happens next cannot be spontaneous.

With extraordinary rapidity, the three stretcher-bearers disperse. The "man in black", or so it seems, heads off at the run in the direction whence he came. The young man breaks left at high speed and "Green Helmet" heads at similar speed in the direction of the camera. The indications are - and the effect certainly is - that they are trying to get out of camera-shot.

No more than a few seconds into the sequence and their high-speed dashes are paying off. All the figures are now nearly out of camera-shot. The "man in black" looks as if he is about to run all the way back to the wrecked building - that is the direction he is going. The others, we cannot see as they run past the camera out of view.

Now we are but a fraction of a second from the pathos - another iconic shot, showing the abandoned body. "Green Helmet" is just out of view, the young man has disappeared and the "man in black" is now so far up the road that he will not appear in any close-up shot. And a few seconds of a close-up shot is all it will take to make a powerful point.

Context, of course, is everything. And innocent explanation would be that the stretcher party had arrived at its destination. The "man in black" was rushing off to pick up another body and the other two were rushing forward to take on other vital tasks.

However, we know exactly where this is, from the footage of "White Tee-shirt's" camera run. This is the middle of nowhere. It is some distance from the wrecked building and even the staging area, and well short of "Stretcher Alley" and the ambulances. There is no activity here and, if for some reason "Green Helmet" and his team had suddenly tired and decided to take a rest, they would surely have remained with their burden. There can be no explanation for their behaviour, other than they are determined to get out of camera-shot to give a clear view of the body.

Once again, the showman scores.

Scene 2 added 24 August

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