Knuckle (2011, documentary)
Knuckle (Ian Palmer, 2011) just barely manages to look beyond the spectacle of men beating the crap out of each other to open a window into a rarely seen world. I watch most documentaries out of and about Ireland and Scotland that I can get my hands on. There’s not much about Irish culture here, nor Traveller culture. However, the title didn’t really lead me to believe that’s what I’d get. I appreciate the director’s approach, which mostly resists offering omniscient meaning to the feuding between Traveller clans explored in the film, and at one point Palmer admits he’d become too into filming the fights themselves. He let’s his subjects say what they want; he films what he can.
If you like thinking about gender and violence, in this case, white masculinity, the film might provide some insight: namely, the men have no idea why they continue to fight. People often like to look at men and violence via war and domestic violence, even rape. And that often leads to ridiculous socio-political posturing. This is a little more pure. So, why do they do it? It looks to me that they enjoy it, all the hand-wringing and worry about fair fighting aside. Anyway, I liked it and can recommend it, but am looking forward to the other documentaries I’m screening a little more:
A Film Unfinished (Hersonski, 2010)
A Letter to Elia (Jones & Scorsese, 2010)
All Power to the People (Lee, 1996)