High pictorial and technical values create compositions that recall contemporary cinema and seventeenth-century painting, expanding the treatment of time into epic. This apparent grandiosity plays against the immediacy of each suffering subject, underlining the different experience of time in childhood. Small hurts can devastate when you're a child. Big hurts stay with you for years, as survivors of Hitler's Anschluss testify.
Now, in the age of virtual use and abuse of children, Helnwein's insistence on valuing the humanity and charm of the littlest, the least powerful, offers a counterpoint to claims that suffering counts most when you're grown-up. It opens his practice into a series of pictorial mise-en-scènes, as did Rembrandt's tableaux in The Blinding of Samson (1636) or The Night Watch (1642).