Bea & I spent the weekend up in the cabin, by ourselves (other than the dogs, that is). It was a welcome change, seeing as two weeks prior, we had 19 people for New Year’s Eve, with 16 sleepovers (yea, bags all over).
This weekend was spent mostly watching DVDs. I had just done an Amazon run. First up was Downfall, the story of Hitler’s final days in his Berlin bunker in 1945. Bruno Ganz’s performance is amazing. For a film covering the sort of subject matter, it’s as good as such a film can possibly be. For those as meticulously interested in all things WWII as I, it’s a must see.
Some moths back, it caught my eye that George Lucas’ first film, THX 1138 was being released in DVD. Along about that time, Billy Beck had some interesting comments about the film, along with a link to a–what I was later to discover–spot-on article. See, I was 10 years old when I saw the film upon its release in 1971. Why did I see it? Because of the cool-looking car chase in the trailers showing on TV, of course. Needless to say, the film was a huge disappointment for a boy of 10. All I remember was white rooms, naked people, and bald heads. The car scene was about the last 10 minutes of the film. Boring. But I had to revisit it. Cinematically, it’s a very cool film. Seeing it now is to completely understand Lucas’ future success with the Star Wars franchise.
The message is unmitigated moronic crap; so typical of a complete know-nothing hippie of that era. In that vein, it can be seen as a monument to the general stupidity of the times. And, it puts the current state of politics in this country in complete context, since those elite of the times–such as those who might attend the UCLA and USC film schools, as a for-instance–are currently the ones fucking up America to the general point of no return.
There’s one single redeemable political message in the film. That is–and all you fiscal conservatives and consequentialists take heed–economic efficiency is quite perfectly at home in a totalitarian regime. So, all of you who argue fiscal restraint for the government, but don’t have your principles in order (freedom, for instance) are really just asking for a more efficient machine by which to oppress you.
Still, it’s really, really a beautiful film to watch and I recommend it. Oh, also, with the director’s cut DVD, you get a bonus disk with a bunch of stuff, including the documentary of the formation and early years of American Zoetrope. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were the main players, but you had various others directly and indirectly involved, many with names you’ll recognize, like Martin Scorsese. The most ironic part of that documentary is when it mentions, almost with pride, that neither Francis nor George were "political." Hey, no shit. I just got done watching THX. There’s a distinction to be made between the politically aware and spoiled brats who haven’t yet created a real dollar whining about how "corporations are destroying our way of life." The distinction can be many things, of course, but stupidity should never be mistaken for political awareness, and I daresay that it far too often is.
Next up was Conspiracy, an HBO film nearly documenting the 1942 Wannsee Conference in which Hitler’s "Final Solution" was legally engineered. Yes, that’s right: legally. Most of the attendees were lawyers or had studied the law. The legal basis was the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which laid the foundation for defense of the German race. There was a legal foundation and logical hierarchy to the whole thing. They were "defending their race." The 1935 laws were step one. Rounding the Jews up and putting them in ghettos, step 2. When that became problematic, emigration was attempted, but no one would take them; and moreover, with the anticipated successful conquest of Russia (there was optimism, even though German soldiers were freezing in the Russian winter at the time), their numbers were about to go from 6 millions to 11 millions of Jews. Since, after all, they are just legally defending their race, there was only one solution and that was the Final Solution.
Now, does that give anyone a better insight to what I mean when I say that laws and logic are meaningless–potentially evil–without a sound moral basis? And I don’t mean religious either. A religious basis can be just as deadly (and has been and is) as a we-the-people basis. Only an unequivocal, inviolable morality of absolute, unbridled individualism can protect against such evils. Without that, no one is ever really safe.
My favorite line from the film comes when one of the attendees (an SS Major who admits to "evacuating" 27,000 Jews) is asked about how he perceives his former study of the law. "It made me distrust the language. A gun means what it says."
Watched a few others, but none with the import of the aforementioned.