Plot for Peace reveals a mind boggling story that makes you really question the media’s motives. It’s a story that provokes pride in human morality, shock at human atrocities and anger at political injustice. In other words, a story that should have been told the moment it happened.
The documentary focuses on the story of one man, Jean-Yves Ollivier, also known as ‘Monsieur Jacques’ and his crucial role as a middle man in the South African apartheid. Ollivier used his diplomatic skills to bring the opposing sides together, persuading political leaders to meet, eventually illuminating the truth.
Plot for Peace recounts the apartheid in an astoundingly progressive documentary style. The audience is bombarded with montage after montage of horrifying hand-held camera footage of street fights and murders. This footage is intertwined with interviews with world leaders such as the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, and the minister of Foreign Affairs, Pik Botha. On top of all of these incredibly powerful scenes, we have our cleverly placed protagonist Ollivier in the present, amongst a set of lavish props, playing cards alone in a smoky room, enticing us in with his unbelievable stories.
With all of these ticks in the boxes of ‘what a documentary should be’, I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t quite do what a documentary should do. It retold an extremely complex story at a fast pace and assumed that the audience brought an unreasonable amount of prior knowledge. The twists and turns of the story became confusing and an audience could be easily left behind. As the political experts waded on through the minefield of confusion, I resentfully felt a bit dim for not being able to keep up.
The story had the potential to be moving and emotional, but instead left the audience so caught up in the spaghetti of its story that feelings became secondary. As a political documentary, it didn’t offer the ‘thriller’ feel of Fahrenheit 9/11, nor did it offer the intellectual accessibility of Inside Job. It did however show something we rarely see: politicians admitting to being wrong. All considered, the film was extremely uplifting and told a story that vehemently needed telling.