By Tara Judah
From Iraq to Chi-raq, the story of the most popular weapon of choice anywhere in the world is of the Austrian Glock. It’s first large scale take up by the Austrian police and military in the early 1980s, for its safety and reliability, set the Glock pistol’s success story in motion. It is now the proverbial weapon of choice for everyone from US law enforcement and street gangs to IS jihadists and was even coveted by Saddam Hussein. Thanks to its simple design, plastic parts, ‘never fail’ reputation and appearances in popular film, television and music, the Glock has gone from shifting 1000 units per month in the 1980s to now moving 34,000 units a week. This adds up to more than 1.5 million Glock pistols manufactured and sold every year.
Using these stats to build its story core, Weapon of Choice is a documentary in the straight up explanatory mode. And boy are the stats impressive. That it only takes minutes to make a Glock, that doing so is a mundane task on an assembly line in a factory in a small town where unemployment is rife, and that there anybody would be happy just to have a job, certainly has its impact. But where Weapon of Choice is most successful is in adding flesh to its informative bones through its choice mise-en-scene and editing.
Cinematographer and director Fritz Ofner narrates but doesn’t tell us the whole story. Letting props and backdrops do the talking, it’s a table lamp in the shape of a Glock, against the backdrop of an American flag that says more than the interviewee poised in front of it; and it’s a navy-blue cap with lipstick pink embroidered letters that read ‘Gun Goddess’ that tells us where to locate fearful ideology. Though the wearer’s misguided dialogue insists the Second Amendment is about “leveling the playing field”, it’s her cap that acts as the sort of authorial cherry on top for Ofner’s underlining argument for gun control. This white woman’s strange take on bearing arms as feminism really hits home when shown in contrast with black women mourning the deaths of their children on the streets of Chicago. Cutting back and forth between these stories and with visits to the Glock factory in Deutsch-Wagram, Ofner reveals a world where social issues are fundamentally misunderstood. Instead, predators are as assumed as the consumerism with which they are unsuccessfully battled.
Black children play-boxing in Adidas gloves is an image that seems worlds away from war zones, and even further afield from white European design, and yet, all of these images are linked through the cyclical beast that is capitalist supply and demand, plus one helluva marketing campaign.
Ofner presents figures and places as information but crafts his true argument through the people his camera encounters. Each of his interviewees willingly, perhaps even with pride, unwittingly flesh out the most troubling implications of gun culture in the world today. A strange and astounding ride at times, Weapon of Choice is a deftly handled, illustrated history of the white European born global ecology that sustains rising gun crime in America and armed terrorists in the Middle East.
Director: Fritz Ofner, Eva Hausberger