Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1995 • 25 minutes
For six months in 1994, François Crémieux served as a French UN peacekeeper near the Bosnian town of Bihać. He never saw combat, barely even experienced physical discomfort—but he was left deeply shaken by the experience.
In BLUE HELMET, director Chris Marker keeps the focus squarely on Crémieux, an eloquent young veteran who recounts his experiences rapid-fire, as though he’s been desperate to share them since returning home. The film consists entirely of Crémieux shot in closeup, interspersed with stills from his tour of duty.
The story he tells is one of infantry indifferent to peacekeeping ideals, training by racist officers, missions that range from occasionally useful to completely pointless, and rules of engagement that benefited only the aggressors. Despite its apparent simplicity, BLUE HELMET is a powerful first-hand account of a peacekeeping mission that didn’t just go wrong, but never had any opportunity to go right.