The latest instalment in The Times’ Unquiet Films series offers a fascinating look at the work of political cartoonist Peter Brookes and the importance of visual satire.
A collaboration between News UK, ad agency Grey London and production company Betsy Works, Unquiet Films is a promotional series exploring “the cultural and historical impact of The Times and The Sunday Times” and the work of the newspapers’ journalists, editors, photographers and contributors.
Previous films (which we wrote about here) include one on typeface Times New Roman, another on The Times’ use of photojournalism and one on its history of investigative reporting.
The latest, The Art of Satire, was directed by Liz Unna and captures a day in the life of Peter Brookes, political cartoonist at The Times since 1992.
As well as a look at Brookes’ working process and the pressures of creating a new cartoon each day, the film features some thought-provoking commentary from fellow Times cartoonist Morten Moreland, broadcaster Jon Snow, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson, art dealer Chris Beetle and political cartoon expert Tim Benson.
Beautifully illustrated and highly detailed, Brookes’ cartoons are created using pencil, ink and watercolour, and works featured in the film range from witty plays on Cameron’s Etonian roots and Ed Milliband’s resemblance to Wallace & Gromit character Wallace:
To darker, scathing portrayals of Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi.
“He’s a wonderful illustrator, who seems to be very good at caricature – capturing the essence of a politican,” says Benson.
As Rowson points out, cartoonists are an important part of political dialogue in the UK, enjoying an extraordinary level of freedom compared to other countries. Brookes’ cartoons – from light-hearted jokes to what Rowson describes as “character assassinations” – have a lasting effect on the public’s impression of the politician featured, and are not just art, but a powerful form of visual journalism.
“Political cartoonists go to the absolute core of the truth,” says Snow. “We’d like to think what they’re doing is absurd, ridiculous and very funny but actually, it’s very often a very stark sharp truth.”
See more Unquiet Films here.