The Word in the Pictures: the Art of Peter Weir


  • Sylvia McCosker


'You worry about the words - I'll worry about the pictures': cameraman Kwan to journalist Hamilton in Peter Weir's film of Koch's 'The Year of Living Dangerously'. Words and pictures are also the subject of Jacques Ellul's 'The Humiliation of the Word'. Ellul argues that word and image, hearing and sight are radically out of balance in modem technicised society. Words - even the divine Word - are marginalised, 'humiliated'; the image and the visible fact prevail; ours is an idolatrous world in which film and television constantly reinforce our addiction to images. Stressing the iconoclastic strand of Judeo-Christian tradition, Ellul problematises any attempt to show that tradition on screen. Nevertheless, in so far as it can be done, I think that Weir has done it.