“Now I’m in an old man’s body with a young man’s eyes,” says 82-year-old veteran war photographer Don McCullin as he struggles to the top of a shelled building in the Syrian city of Homs. He and architectural historian Dan Cruickshank take a road trip from government-controlled Damascus to Palmyra. The Unesco-listed ancient Syrian desert city of temples and columns ravaged by IS during the war that preceded the other wars that are desecrating this country.
BBC Documentary: The Road to Palmyra
McCullin and Cruikshank, who we assume are old friends have a close association with the city. In the programme, The Road to Palmyra they travel through this war torn land to return and understand the havoc wreaked there.
The documentary is an opportunity to see McCullin at work, “My mind says, ‘We’re going up there,’ my body says, ‘Hang on, are you sure?’ If my legs shake a bit, it’s not because I’m afraid, it’s my body refusing my youthful mind.” He has lost none of his ability to observe, empathise and document. However, it is the emotional input to his photography that is paramount, as it has been throughout his long career.
“Photography for me is not looking its feeling. If you can’t feel what you are looking at. Then you’re not going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures”