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‘Irradiated’ Review: Rithy Panh’s Horrifying Supercut of War and Suffering Across the 20th Century

‘Irradiated’ Review: Rithy Panh’s Horrifying Supercut of War and Suffering Across the 20th Century

“Evil will hunt us if we don’t throw it out from us with open palms,” a disembodied voice declares to us in French at the start of “Irradiated,” Rithy Panh’s mesmerizingly bleak montage of war in the 20th century. “At the top of the sky is pain. It always comes as a surprise.” And so the great onslaught begins as the bombs rain down from the heavens and the image cracks into three perfect squares that stretch across the screen in a narrow sliver of light; together they create an anamorphic slot machine of needless suffering.

More often than not, each column shows the same snippet of archival footage, as Nazi rallies bleed into the Khmer Rouge before napalm glazes the treetops of Vietnam. Sometimes, however, the square in the center is out of sync with the two on either side; shots of a bombed out church frame

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