The Theatre of War

Currently Showing

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image)

February 19 – June 9, 2024


The Theatre of War recites the opening lines of Homer’s Iliad. As the epic war poem begins in media res on the 9th year of the Trojan war, so too, does the film take place in the 9th year of russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In antiquity, the Iliad was recited by rhapsodes over three days, often to the mnemonic beat of an accompanying lyre.

In The Theatre of War, the opening stanza is likewise recited over three different days, across three different theatres of war: a stage which held important cultural resistance during the Siege of Sarajevo, a combat training facility for Ukrainian soldiers once used for military exercises in the Bosnian war, and the supposed Tomb of Homer on the Greek island of Ios, which casts its view over the sea where the original clashes of the Iliad took place.


Installation View: Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Curator: Fiona Trigg


In debating the Homeric Question, historians have often pointed to the wider Balkans to altogether disprove the existence or otherwise minimise creative hand of Homer, by citing traditions of other epic recitation particularly in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, where poems are not credited to any specific authors.

Yet, as Ukrainian philosopher Rachel Besplatoff wrote on the eve of war in 1939 in her essay On The Iliad — ‘we do not step into [Homer’s world]; we are [already] there’.



Duration: 1o minutes 23 seconds
Edition:  3 + 2 AP

Editor: Dominic Pearce / Composer: Marc Earley / Cinematographer Channels 1 & 3: Alen Alilović / Cinematographer Channel 2: Stanislava Pinchuk / Choral: RKUD Proleter Sarajevo / Recitation: V. from S. (Kharkiv Oblast), Nia Ninoua & Ilias Marios Triantafyllos

With gratitude to: The Mordant Family Moving Image Commission for Young Artists & The Australian War Memorial Official War Artist Programme