The fog of law in the fog of war
International humanitarian law in war movies
in Cinematic perspectives on international law
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This chapter analyses the cinematic representations of the principle of distinction, one of the cornerstones of the law of armed conflict. In general, the view presented in these films and TV series is that it is extremely difficult or even impossible to effectively apply the principle of distinction in the field. Law is depicted as being ill adapted to properly regulate armed conflicts, too burdensome and out of touch with the dictates of the realities on the ground. In most cases, legal norms are submitted to the viewers’ scrutiny, either implicitly, or explicitly. Cinematic productions convey a specific stance as to the relevance, usefulness and applicability of the law of armed conflict. Sometimes, the principle of distinction is applied very flexibly and the rule is interpreted very (sometimes too) extensively. In other cases, the rule is simply put aside in the name of (military) necessity. Other productions, rather than focusing on the applicability or interpretation of the rule, use the legal framework as a broader narrative to (de)legitimize an armed conflict or a specific State-led operation.

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