Tragedy visualized

A friend on Facebook pointed me to this video. When I read that the film’s 15 minutes were “well worth my time,” I scoffed a little. But I was waiting for a business call, so I figured why not kill some time. “Well worth it” proved to be right.

This is a beautiful and compelling visualization of the military and civilian deaths caused by World War II—stunning both in its visuals and in the sheer numbers killed. The first and largest part of the film details the mind-boggling human cost of the war: the toll of military combat in both the European and Pacific theaters as well as the loss of civilian life from military action, the Holocaust, and other war crimes. The second half puts WWII in the context of other military conflicts throughout history and discusses the relative peace in the world today, at least in terms of an individual’s likelihood of being killed in war.

It’s the work of Neil Halloran and accompanies his site, which he describes as “an interactive documentary that examines the human cost of the second World War and the decline in battle deaths in the years since the war.” The site includes interactive visualizations of the data. Also on the site you can pay a “ticket price” as a contribution to support the project (the suggested ticket price is $2.50, which is a bargain at any cinema these days).

The numbers are staggering, and no one has probably ever created a more compelling visualization of them. And Mr. Halloran will be one to watch; with talent like this, I certainly expect to see his work again.

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