A cynical perspective on military motivations, Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 Paths of Glory, with its themes of moral corruption, undisguised hypocrisy and absurd vanity, astonishes and outrages in equal measure, for its outstanding storytelling and unbearable injustice.
Usually understood as an anti-war film, Paths of Glory seems unduly reduced to a moralistic and doctrinaire tale. Colonel Dax, the audience’s alter ego, is indeed an honourable and dignified man, who nevertheless remains a military man to the very end. He even becomes outraged when his superior suggests that his quest for justice is in reality an artifice to get a promotion. However, as dignified as he may be, Dax never questions the bureaucratic structure or the raison d’être of his organization. The movie fights through some very dense philosophical issues. Continue reading
Essentially a parable of 20th Century Brazilian politics, Glauber Rocha’s 1967 Entranced Earth, with its poetic metaphors, psychological insights and personal perspective, demystifies both the right and the left and shows us what rises from the ashes of political destruction: ecce homo.
Within Glauber Rocha’s tour de force of Cinema Novo (Brazilian New Wave) there lies every Brazilian who has ever lived. For the film speaks of what typifies people’s feelings towards politics: a historical disenchantment. Paulo, the protagonist of Entranced Earth a.k.a. ‘Land in Anguish’ [Terra em Transe] is the epitome of Brazilian disillusion with the political class, and more pertinently, with political life in general. Perhaps, it is to do with the centuries of entrenched inequalities and the blind ignorance of some pressure groups. Or maybe it comes from a fatal flaw in the people’s DNA. What is certain however is that this masterpiece contains the story of Brazil. Continue reading
A cinematic masterwork of epic and far-reaching scope, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 There Will Be Blood is a film that feeds off legends, allegories and origin stories, to then go on and create its own mythology about the American Century and the end of the dream.
The analogy between the plot of There Will Be Blood and the socio-economic history of the United States isn’t a difficult one to establish. The development of the country – and the subsequent social, cultural and technological progress set in motion by this – is the result of some morally dubious choices and dishonest manoeuvres. Rather more complicated, however, is to reconcile the negative aspects of such a society with the notion that this is the land of freedoms and opportunities. Continue reading