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Another Day of Life: Visualisation of the emotional tribulations of a war reporter

Written by on 25th February 2019

Ema Sabljak

Set in 1975 in Angola, at the very height of a civil war, Another Day of Life immerses the audience into a new format of the “docu-drama” – one in which the narrative is built not by actors, but by animation. 

The film maintains familiar elements of a documentary, inserting interviews and old news clips between the animated scenes that tell the story of Polish war reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski and his time covering a country on the verge of independence. 

The animation, while for the most part pretty simple in styling, adds a depth to the documentary that fully justifies adding dramatisation. While the creative choice may sacrifice its possibility of achieving a fully objective image of Ryszard’s time in Angola, it personalises the story by allowing emotions and feelings to be portrayed visually. 

As the carefully constructed animated world starts to disintegrate around the characters, it is clear that the animation has a knack of ensuring the audience, not just sees the fragility and tribulations of Ryszard, but understands it on a deeper level. 

While the switching between animation and documentary style clips may be stark at times, it never feels out of place. Instead, it carefully builds a narrative that can switch easily between the past and present of Angola.

The narrative, however, is more of an ode to Ryszard than to the Angola civil war. It delves into the psyche of the journalist as he makes sense of a world left fragile by war and the part he plays in that world. 

More than anything, the animation manages to portray a sense of guilt felt by the Polish journalist. Raising the question of whether journalists can ever do their jobs without personal responsibility for the changes they bring, good or bad. 

Introducing the Portuguese word “confusão” used to describe a state of anarchy and discord, the character of Ryszard explores the idea of whether his presence has contributed to the creation of such discord, simply by choices he made in reporting on the war and where he led people he met along the way. 

The film explores the idea of journalistic objectivity, arguing that reporting itself evokes change in the world and events, so the journalist can hardly be objective. However, it is the very impact of their work that makes their job important. Ryszard finds solace in ensuring that people who may have “disappeared from the world”, do not disappear from our memory. 

Another Day of Life demonstrates an introspective approach to bringing real people and real events to life, managing to capture a balance between dramatisation and biography.

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