Nicolas Cage has made some terrible movies. But he’s also made a couple of OK ones. Among them: Lord of War
. If you haven’t seen it, he plays a shady arms dealer who does shady arms deals. At one point he ends up in Africa, sells weapons to some murderous local militia, then snorts cocaine laced with gunpowder (‘ brown brown’) to drown out his existential angst. Turns out the drug gives everything a weird haze and messes with colours. Kinda like the latest photo series from Richard Mosse.
Shot in the Congo throughout 2010, the series looks at the civil strife that has plagued one of the world’s poorest countries since the late 1990s. While the purple haze found in the photos looks like a Photoshop job, it was actually achieved using an obscure film called Aerochrome. Designed by the US military during the Cold War, the film emphasises red tones. It also adds a surreal edge to a conflict that has claimed over five million lives.
And that’s the miserable thing about the Congo, despite it being home to huge untapped supply of natural resources the place is dirt poor – and hugely murderous. Purple (camera) haze or not, the heart of darkness that Joseph Conrad wrote about in his classic novel about the region is never far from the surface.
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