Jihlava 2023 Review: BLIX NOT BOMBS Explores Geopolitical Impact, Personal Legacy
Greta Stocklassa directs a documentary on the diplomatic career of Hans Blix in a generational dialogue on the state of affairs of the current geopolitics.
In a time characterized by escalating geopolitical tensions and evolving power dynamics, Blix Not Bombs stands out as a significant documentary.
Focused on Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, this film, directed by Czech-Swedish filmmaker Greta Stocklassa, provides an in-depth examination of Blix’s critical role in the period preceding the Iraq War.
At 93 years old during filming, Blix provides a personal recount of his experiences, including interactions with notable leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair. He also reflects on key events, such as Colin Powell’s influential speech at the UN Security Council, offering a unique perspective on these historical moments.
Greta Stocklassa's documentary explores the far-reaching consequences of the Iraq War, from the downfall of the Iraqi regime to the emergence of ISIS, and its subsequent impact on European immigration and the rise of far-right movements across the continent. Through in-depth interviews and the personal reflections of Hans Blix, the documentary offers a nuanced depiction of the seasoned diplomat. It delves into the intricate and often unacknowledged responsibility borne by individuals in shaping global events, fostering a dialogue that spans generations.
Blix Not Bombs delves into the personal aspects of Hans Blix's life, capturing him amidst the "döstädning" or "death cleaning." The documentary frames him as an ostensibly typical Swedish retiree, a stark contrast to his former role standing alongside the world's most influential leaders. Director Greta Stocklassa juxtaposes Blix’s current serene life with his past involvement in critical global events, providing a distinct perspective on his historical impact.
Stocklassa engages Blix in a deep exploration of the pivotal events leading to the 2003 Iraq invasion. Blix’s responses illuminate these historical moments from his viewpoint.
The director described the interview as evolving into “a dialogue between two generations: one preparing to leave the world, and the other inheriting the complexities left behind.” This intergenerational conversation underscores the film’s exploration of personal legacy and global consequences.
As a career diplomat, Hans Blix exhibits a composed, modest, and affable demeanor throughout his interviews. He responds with openness and readiness to every question and stimulus presented.
In an unorthodox but generationally resonant introduction, Stocklassa initially presents Blix to viewers unfamiliar with his extensive career, which spans from the Chernobyl disaster onwards. She shows both the audience and Blix himself a clip from Team America: World Police, a puppet satire by the creators of South Park, featuring a fictional encounter between puppet versions of Kim Jong-il and Blix. The real Blix reacts with a chuckle, seemingly more out of politeness than amusement at his satirical portrayal.
Stocklassa ensures that Blix's significant career achievements are not overshadowed by this pop culture reference. She emphasizes the critical nature of his work, particularly his consistent declaration during his tenure as a UN weapons inspector that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iran. This aspect of Blix's career is highlighted as a testament to the high stakes and complexities of his diplomatic responsibilities.
In the latter half of Blix Not Bombs, director Greta Stocklassa adopts a more personal perspective, aligning her role as a soon-to-be mother with her concerns about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This approach adds a contemporary dimension to her discussions with Hans Blix.
While Blix maintains his composure, there are instances where Stocklassa intensively questions him about the Iraq invasion, probing whether he could have been the decisive factor in preventing what George W. Bush, in a now viral speech gaffe at a 20th-anniversary event for the September 11, 2001 attacks, termed “a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.” This line of questioning adds an element of tension to the documentary, underscoring the complex nature of diplomatic decision-making and historical interpretation.
When confronted with pointed questions about the Iraq War and his role in it, Hans Blix responds with characteristic diplomatic wit and calmness. He asserts that the responsibility lies not with him, but rather with the systemic lack of checks and balances.
A notable moment of tension in the film arises during a discussion about population and sustainability. Blix, cognizant of the world's finite resources and rampant consumption, suggests that limiting families to two children might be prudent, a stance that Stocklassa challenges.
Throughout the documentary, Stocklassa engages Blix in a dynamic that mirrors a broader generational clash between boomers and millennials. Their dialogue touches on the state of the world being handed down to the younger generation.
However, it becomes apparent that Blix does not fit the stereotypical mold of a boomer who capitalized on available opportunities without regard for future repercussions. This contrast between the director's earnest inquiries and Blix's nuanced perspectives adds depth to their exchanges, highlighting the complexity of intergenerational dialogue and responsibility.
Blix Not Bombs serves as a thorough examination of the moral and ethical responsibilities shouldered by those in positions of power. The documentary invites its audience to reflect on the far-reaching impacts of political decisions and the frequently disregarded human aspect in the realm of global politics.
While the film includes moments of intense dialogue, it fundamentally stands as a tribute to Hans Blix’s extensive career in crisis management. The film showcases the intricate interplay of diplomacy, conflict, and historical progression, emphasizing how a single misstep can lead to significant historial consequences—a theme previously explored by filmmaker Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11.
The film enjoyed its Czech Distribution Premiere at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival. Visit the official site for more information.
Blix Not Bombs
- Greta Stocklassa
- Greta Stocklassa
- Hans Blix