Lost Lives Leaves a Lasting Impression

When you grow up during a major conflict; when you are in the midst of it with it all going on around you, it is hard to take a step back, even more than twenty years later and analyse those events. Instead of making a work of art, or a play or even a tv programme. Many just want to forget.

And yet the imagery portrayed in Lost Lives leaves you with a morbid sense of curiosity. When it’s displayed in front of your eyes just how much of it you had forgotten, even if your experiences are, mercifully, so much less than that of others. Each image is so impeccably edited together with intriguing scenery. The opening sequences of picturesque landscapes, albeit rain-drenched, make you mistakingly think for a moment that you’re watching an advert for the tourist board than a documentary about a harrowing time – then reality kicks in.

One by one the iconic moments of violence come flooding onto the screen. The Battle of the Bogside, people being burned out of their houses in Derry and Belfast. Juxtaposed with each scene a new page in the book is turned. As this happens a cast of thousands is unfurled as a list of celebrities appears before the audience, namely a list who are about to display their narrative talents.

As a montage of different shots of Belfast and nature scenes appear the long harrowing list commences. August 14th, 1969, Patrick Mooney aged 9, archive footage of the young boy’s funeral, together with footage of an interview with his grieving father, a voiceover from the actor Liam Neeson recalls the family’s tragic background story. Amid this are scenes of a graveyard and anonymous decaying ruins.

Each terrible atrocity is recalled in a similar vein. Scenes of seagulls, a picture of the victim and an actor reading out the circumstances of each tragic death. The range of victims and perpetrators alike are broad in range, trying to be as balanced as possible.

Each scene, each photo, each recollection is nicely knitted together with scenes of Belfast or a piece of picturesque scenery or a turning of a page. The only complaint that the viewer could possibly make, apart from the usual (but expected) tendency for Belfastcentricism is that the picturesque scenes come close to trivialising the troubles, much of the scenery and haunting voices have a tendency to distract.

On the whole, however, is a worthwhile piece of television if you have an interest in the troubles and an hour and a half to spare. The is available (unfortunately in the UK only) on BBC iplayer.