Chris Morris' new comedy comes from a dark place. Four Lions tells the story of five unlikely British jihadists with abstract dreams of glory, bent on becoming suicide bombers and creating mayhem at the London Marathon. Not exactly the standard route for comedy you might think, and you'd be right.
Chris Morris is one of Britain's most savage satirists, if not the most savage. His expose and satire of the media's obsession with pedophiles in the Brass Eye pedophile special earned him notoriety – rightly so. His humor is both deeply funny and deeply, deeply uncomfortable.
So, when he turned his eye towards jihadists following the 7/7 London bombings, there was a definite discomfort. Chris Morris started to do meticulous research into modern jihadism. He apparently read the story of five jihadists planning to ram a US warship. They packed their launch with explosives and stepped in. It sank. This was apparently the real life inspiration behind Four Lions.
Morris said: "I had a press card and watched the Bluewater trial and got to hear a lot of MI5 surveillance tapes of the suspects, and you start to realise these people are klutzing around in a very average way - like men at stag parties or five-a-side football. Everyone reporting on it knew it was like The Keystone Cops. The police thought it was funny and would sometimes surreptitiously play the funniest bits of their material to the journalists. There were loads of surveillance tapes that cruelly exposed very average conversation."
The end result of this research is a movie that has been described as the War on Terror's Dr. Strangelove. To describe it as uncomfortable viewing is understating it. But with fear considered the jihadists' greatest weapon, the movie strips that away and make them figures of fun and even sympathy, in an intelligent way. Ridicule has often been the best response to terror and that's partly what is presented here, as well as humanizing the people who, perhaps inexplicably to many, decide to strap explosives to themselves and end lives.
( Read more... )