Jim: The James Foley Story is a documentary film that tells the story of James Foley, the first American to be killed by the ISIS terrorist group. Foley was kidnapped and then publicity murdered by beheading in August 2014. The killing act was filmed by the terrorists and then posted on the internet, causing a great uproar from across the world. The documentary was directed by one of Foleys childhood friend called Brian Oakes in his filmmaking debut. Although the film is crafted more on love than actual skill, Oakes manages to show the audience principled and likable war correspondent behind the outrageous news story that brought an end to his life. While the actual footage of his beheading is not shown, the film contains some disturbing material, most of which was captured by Foley himself when he was in Syria and Libya. It highlights how he strived to tell the world what normal people go through in battle zones.
The documentary film has a political message and seems to highlight issues to do with the United States foreign policy. In the beheading footage, a masked man forces Foley to read a statement urging US President Barack Obama to withdraw American forces in Syria. The United States is trying to intervene in the Syrian war, something that ISIS is fiercely determined to ensure does not happen. The situation is rather chaotic since Western nations had once shown support for rebel opposition to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Now, a dominant part of this opposition is made up of ISIS terrorists, making the idea of intervention extremely complicated. Jim: The James Foley Story is a wholehearted but somewhat unreflective tribute to the journalist. Although it does not touch on his private life and personal relationships, it focuses on the strength he got from his faith and family. Perhaps the documentarys only shortcoming is that it does not offer an analytical context for the work that Foley did. There is no denying that the journalist was tough and brave up to the very end. Irony occurs in that he had suffered a similar fate before as he had been captured in Libya by forces loyal to Gaddafi back in 2011, although he was eventually released. In his entire professional life, Foley had been in harms way. The video footages and destruction contained in the film plays a crucial role in making viewers understand the horrors of war.
The aim of the documentary film is to make sure that people dont remember James Foley as the man who was publicly executed by terrorists in a horrific manner. Its purpose is to make them understand who he was, how he lived, and his purpose in life prior to his death. He is lovingly remembered by his family, friends, journalist colleagues as well as those he was taken hostage with. Also, it means that the people close to him are frank in their memories. They are willing to make it known how they struggled to understand why James was willing to leave the comfort and safety of his home in America in order to record the horrors of war in the Middle East. The truth is that he did not just want the world to know what was happening in Syria; he also craved for the crazy adrenaline rush that comes with being a war correspondent.
This documentary raises a number of unspoken questions. They range from the role played by the US in the Middle East and North African to the risks taken by individuals seeking to either reveal the roles or highlight their consequences. One of the narrators in the film is Jims brother called John, and he tells of the painful lesson he learned from Jims capture and eventual release in Libya, and his beheading by the ISIS. Although someone may take on a certain job in order to earn a living and secure the future like Jim did, it should not just be about money or material things. It should also be about doing something worthwhile that people will remember him or her for. The film underlines the sacrifice that Foley and other war correspondents make so as to let people know what is going on around the world. No blame is directed towards the terrorists, and they remained faceless and removed from the film. The documentary focuses on Foleys life, his ideals and the impact he had on a wide variety of people, from his family members to fellow journalists, and particularly his fellow captives.
The structure used in Jim: The James Foley Story is a function of the journalists absence, and briefly looks at the seduction of war reporting. When his family found out that he had been kidnapped in Syria, they tried everything they could to make it public, despite instructions from the US government not to draw attention to the issue. All in all, there was little that they could disclose anyway. Such lack of information is portrayed in the film through the use of imagery and a sad keyboard soundtrack. It features European journalists who were imprisoned alongside Foley and illustrates their memories with dramatic enactment of closed doors, covered windows and the backs of kneeling figures.
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