McCullin: A Documentary Film About the Iconic War Photographer


Don McCullin is known the world over for his incredible work as a photojournalist. His powerful and moving photography of devastation and suffering in Cyprus, The Congo, Vietnam and many others have won him worldwide acclaim as one of the greatest ever.

And now, for those who don’t know about his life’s work, or really anybody who wants to see what being one of the most prolific (and perhaps most haunted) photojournalists of our time means, the documentary ‘McCullin’ is here to fill you in.

Here’s the official trailer:

Don McCullin began his career in the 1950’s, and over the years has been witness to more tragedy than many of us could imagine. Having grown up in a rough part of London, he knew what it was to look at the parts of the world that others preferred to ignore, and so naturally, his photography became about just that: photographing hard to face realities.

His career as a photojournalist took him all over the world, covering all manner of atrocities. And over the course of that career he made a name for himself as a photographer whose work you couldn’t ignore. Once, he was even famously saved by his camera when it absorbed a bullet that was meant for him. As photojournalists go, Don McCullin has a more gripping tale than most.

The documentary released on January 1st in the UK to glowing reviews after seeing its world premier in April 2012 at the HotDocs festival in Toronto. No word on if/when it will release in the United States (digitally or otherwise), but be sure we’ll keep an eye out because this is an absolute must see.

  • DafOwen

    Spotted this while it was showing in London – but unfortunately I was busy.
    One of the art cinemas showing it has an online services but it’s not cheap – £10.
    Don’t know if this is possible outside the UK.

  • DafOwen

    Another – same price, UK again :

  • JezSullivan

    This was not publicized in the UK at all, almost like a token release. Weird???

  • venkat B

    very informative article

  • Annegret

    excellent documentary. Saw it last night in the National G gallery in Ottawa.

    The film gives the background to many of the pics, which make his extremely evocative photographs even stronger.

    But it also leaves me with the ambivalence of the endeavor. As it was stated in the film, the pics McCullin took in the 60s to 80s of wars are no longer allowed to be made in our current wars. (“Embedded” my a…, !!) In the US, not even coffins of returning soldiers can be shown on TV, lest people get upset, or even start challenging the war. (Not sure Pres. Obama reversed those Bush policies).

    Mc Cullin is brutally honest about what went through his head when he took those pics. He calls himself a “war junkie” and it is palpable that — besides having a feeling eye, and deep empathy for the people he photographed — he also was affected by the adrenalin rush of the endeavor. At the same time, he points out that the greatest victims of wars are the weakest ones, who cannot protect themselves or get away. His pictures are heartbreaking, shocking beyond imagination, I had to look away many times. But, as others, I think Susan Sontag?, have discussed, there is something unsettlingly seductive about these pictures of indescribable horror. While we are drawn to them to face the horror of the worlds that rarely is seen so close up, while the hope is that the shock of these pictures calls the viewer into some kind of action, or revelation, or rethinking or even political movement, there is also the uncanny and disturbing similarity to war porn: trophy pics that some!! soldiers exchange with other war porn fans. Abu Ghraib pics were just the most public of those.