Amidst the Rubble
Not one to cry at movies, I steeled myself before watching the Oscar-winning short documentary The White Helmets (2016). This film, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, follows a citizen-led humanitarian group, dubbed the White Helmets, into the war zone of Syria. We are shown footage of these men, fully-bearded and wearing white construction helmets, searching for survivors amongst bombed buildings in Aleppo. The dead bodies found amongst the charred cement and blooms of black smoke are appalling.
Yet, the moment that made me cry was not a moment of destruction but a radically unexpected miracle when a new life is found amidst the rubble.
Now, The White Helmets has been accused of being a work of war propaganda for the U.S. and UK, and the White Helmets themselves are alleged to have connections with rebel groups inside Syria. I, frankly, am unqualified to assess the validity of either of these allegations. We are told by the filmmakers, however, that the white helmets rescue people harmed by both sides of the fight, the ones caught in the crossfire. Watching these Syrian citizens digging through broken concrete, carrying limp bodies, and crying over lost loved-ones, I didn’t lament Assad or the Russians, I lamented the war itself.
And, I desperately hold onto that miracle, as do the men of the White Helmets themselves. –Sage Marshall
Sage Marshall '19 studies English at Wesleyan University. He is co-founder and editor of Reverberations.
The White Helmets
Directed By Orlando von Einsiedel
Runtime: 41 min
Streaming on Netflix