Wednesday, May 04, 2005

What's Ridley Thinking?

Beautiful Atrocities and 3 Martini have reviews of Kingdom of Heaven, a movie I was interested in and anticipating, that is until Little Green Footballs noted that CAIR gave its seal of approval to the film:

Beautiful Atrocities has a rundown on why a seal of approval from CAIR is a big warning sign. Read it before reading on.

Both are not impressed (particularly with Bloom as lead) but they also are disturbed. Both see an attempt to create a propaganda piece (my word) lambasting Christians, deifying Muslims and trying to cast negative aspersions on the Iraq war, and maybe the war on terror in general.

Scott is quoted as saying:

" 'I'm not fighting another holy war here, I am trying to get across the fact that not everybody in the West is a good guy, and not all Muslims are bad.
'The tragedy is that we still have a lack of understanding between us, and it is 900 years since the crusades.
'We have never truly resolved our differences.' "

Now, I am working without a net here, a little bit, because I have NOT seen the film, and I am going off the impressions of the others and several circumstantial facts. So, keep that in mind, and I will too.

What this reminds me of was when Troy came out, director Wolfgang Peterson tried to whip up some audience from the Farehnheit 9/11 crowd with claims that his film was a critical analogy to Bush and the war in Iraq:

" 'I couldn’t believe it. I thought, it’s as if nothing has changed in 3,000 years. People are still using deceit to engage in wars of vengeance.' While emphasizing that he 'did not make this film with the intention of making an anti-American statement,' Petersen told the press that the parallels between the Trojan and Iraq wars became more apparent on a daily basis during the filming. 'Just as King Agamemnon waged what was essentially a war of conquest on the ruse of trying to rescue the beautiful Helen from the hands of the Trojans, President George W. Bush concealed his true motives for the invasion of Iraq.' "

Oliver Stone would do so as well for Alexander, although he would later mollify or back off the statements.

‘I started this thing before all this nightmare came down, this morass,” Stone said of the Iraq war. “It’s ironic, and I think there is a coincidence that’s far beyond my understanding, but I would certainly not limit this to the current situation. This is an older situation, East vs. West. This is pre-Muslim, and there was always a conflict between Persian and Greek.
‘Alexander was beautiful because he saw beyond that conflict into a synthesis,” Stone added. ’“I’m not so sure our present administration does. It’s great that they say, ‘Democracy, blah, blah, blah,’ but you have to modify democracy to the local customs.’
‘Alexander brought the Hellenic way which is, let’s say, more freedom for the individual. He abided by the customs of, unlike our administration, of leaving the [opposing] armies intact and used the armies. He always needed more men.’
‘[Alexander] was always inclusive, and we were exactly the opposite when we went into Iraq. We were totally exclusive...You could argue the policy was malformed from the beginning, misintended.’ “

Just ignore the historical ignorance here, and examine how a film coming out for release is portrayed as some sort of useful allegory for modern times, one which does not portray the U.S. in a positive light.

It was with these two incidents in mind that I began to see the emergence of a pattern here. CAIR’s endorsement was a big clue to that, but also what occurred to me was how likely was it that politically Hollywood would make a film that was historically accurate film regarding Muslims and Islam in that period. That they would portray the Europeans negatively as needed (or primarily) I had no doubt, but the followers of Mohammed?

Still, I hoped against hope that maybe the movie would be a good one, either simply an action film that avoided lame or misguided lessons about current events, or would even show history in the proper context, even it was tinged with some PC elements.

The reason I thought I had hope was I recalled an interview Ridley Scott had done with CNN when Black Hawk Down was released in theaters. Although I have not found the transcript online yet, I remember clearly Scott called himself an interventionist, and part of the reason he did the film was because he supported the operation that led to the events in Somalia. I assumed that this meant Scott was several steps removed from typical La-La land groupthink, and had a both realist but compassionate philosophy.

I did find this in another article to support my recollection of his attitude then:

“As the film views the situation, the humanitarian intervention in Somalia was carried out with the best intentions. Scott and his producer, Jerry Bruckheimer -- responsible for Pearl Harbor, Top Gun, etc. -- set the matter up while in San Francisco to promote the picture.

" ‘In this instance,’ Scott explains, ‘there was no subtext, no value to grabbing a footprint in Somalia. There's no oil there as far as we know. We went in because of the misbehavior of [warlord Mohamed Farrah] Aidid. Aidid discovered that famine is a subtle form of genocide. There's no bang when you kill them that way. People just melt into the ground.’ "

So, Scott is clearly a person who backs military force for humanitarian reasons. It is there in black and white.

But, you say, he clearly gives the caveat that there was no subtext, no value in going to Somalia (of course, the U.S. would not consider human life to be valuable, right?). Okay, fine, but then you read the following exchange: (underlines mine)

" '[Mark] Bowden [author of Black Hawk Down], who has studied the battle of Mogadishu the most closely, reaches a somewhat different conclusion about the Somalian intervention: 'It's another lesson in the limits of what force accomplishes.'
'With respect to Mark,' Scott says testily, 'that statement is 20-20 hindsight. I still say if I see women and children there who are dying, we should go out there, because we're the only ones qualified to do it. There's merit to the ideal of an army as a peacekeeping force that comes in, camps out, and says, 'Don't do that or we'll slap your head.' Of course, you can just ignore genocide.'

'As we did in Rwanda,' Bruckheimer adds.
'And yet we ask, '[Is] there another way of stopping it? How? Sending in nuns?'' Scott says. "

Okay, so square these statements for me in regards to a viewing a difference with Iraq.

Women dying. Check.
Children dying. Check.
Men dying in even larger numbers. Added ‘bonus’ qualification. Check.
We are the only ones qualified (and one of the few willing to do it). Check.
We again lacked ninja nuns capable of stopping Saddam’s oppression without bloodshed. Check.

Gee, it seems to me we met Scott’s criteria, did we not?

Again, I am assuming a lot here in what Scott is thinking, but it seems to me, and my gut tells me, that Scott is another one of this Hollywood types who can’t even keep his own positions straight in general, or just when it comes to policies originating from George Bush.

In Somalia, where 10’s of thousands were dying, Scott thinks U.S. intervention was not only necessary, but even mandated by virtue of ability to do something. Sort of the Spiderman philosophy “With great power comes great responsibility”. But, in Iraq, where hundreds of thousands were murdered, with the prospect of more of the same in the future, and with a man believed to possess the will and means to cause more death and destruction, we overreacted. The problem is that we not understand Muslims or Islam or the Middle East and we are only there for the oil. I guess in Mr. Scott’s world, all a brutal dictator need do to prevent U.S. intervention is to declare they possess oil reserves and they will left unmolested.

One would wonder here whether is really in fact blinkered in his thinking, overwrought with dislike of Bush, or is making a cynical attempt to whip up an audience. Of course, the content of the film, as described because I admittedly have not seen, suggests any anti-Iraq war sentiment was pre-meditated.


At 2:07 PM, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

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