At the beginning of Sander Francken's 90-odd-minute documentary, DEALING AND WHEELING IN SMALL ARMS, "narrator" Vanessa Redgrave tells us that some eight million small arms are confiscated and destroyed each year, while another 100 million are produced during this same period. At the end of the film, her voice returns to tell us these same facts again, along with a few other statistics. And that is all we hear of Ms Redgrave's rounded tones.
This wouldn't matter much if the movie at hand were more interesting and/or fulfilling, but it is mostly dull as dishwater and tells us little we don't already know or couldn't easily figure out. Yes, these small arms do or have done unimaginable damage to countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere around the world. (Arms from one particular shipment, we learn, managed to take out Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, an Irish drug dealer and a Spanish politician -- among others.) Francken travels to the U.S., the Congo, Uganda, Serbia, Bosnia, The Netherlands and Germany, talking with gun experts, security people, survivors of various massacres, and more. And although the survivors' stories are upsetting, we've heard/read/seen much of this already, and too often the conversation runs to unenlightening questions and answers like this one, asked of a policeman on a patrol boat: "Do you think guns and arms make their way across the water?" "Maybe. I don't know," comes the response.