ampdead

12/18/07

Just leave it alone...

New Line and Peter Jackson have kissed and made up.  The Hobbit will, unfortunately, become a film.  Maybe I'll be the only person to say this, but please just leave it alone.  Don't make it into a film because stuff will inevitably have to be cut out - as it was in the Lord of the Rings films.  It will look great, I'm sure - also like the Lord of the Rings films - and it will follow the basic storyline. 

Even so, essential elements of the story went missing - entire scenes that pushed the characters along and changed them forever, and the characters themselves were fiddled with (sometimes making them unrecognizable).  Aragorn was not a reluctant leader.  Gimli, Meriadoc, and Peregrin were not merely comic relief.  The Hobbits did not come home to a Shire that had magically remained untouched by the wider world - killing any notion about no trouble finding you if you don't go looking for it.  Nevermind the encounter with Tom Bombadil or the Dead Men of Dunharrow (i.e. the "radioactive scrubbing bubbles"").

Books generally don't translate well into films.  The best that can be hoped for is an attempt to stay true to the underlying themes of the story.  While LoTR looked magnificent, it strayed pretty far from that hope.  Just leave The Hobbit alone.

And, uh, The Lord of the Rings was the sequel to The Hobbit.

Posted by: Jason at 08:43 PM in Book Notes | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 239 words, total size 2 kb.

09/27/07

Infidel

Infidel
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
2007 Free Press (Simon & Schuster)

This sort of story has always fascinated me - overcoming the odds, sticking to your guns, changing over time due to reason not circumstance.  It is, if nothing else, an inspirational story, but an immediate, poignant inspirational story given our times.  A one-woman compare and contrast between this world - the West in general - and the world Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in.

The first quote caught me because of the simplicity Theo van Gogh espoused in it while convincing Ayaan Hirsi Ali to write the screenplay that became Submission:  Part 1.  The "just do it" sort of mentality struck a nerve - especially in light of my complaints and the complaints of others regarding the attitude of Hollywood and the films they spin out.  It's also, in a nutshell, how I'm guessing Ayaan Hirsi Ali see the West.  That is, if you want something, if you want to change something then go do it, go change it - you have the ability and the capacity to do so, so just do it.  It has at its base an intrinsic optimism about people and about life - a severe contrast from the world she came from where men are treated as animals beholden to their desires so women must, therefore, be locked away.



Somehow we got onto my idea for an art exhibit on Muslim women.  Theo said, "Just do it in video.  Weite a screenplay.  Any idiot can write a screenplay.  All you have to do is write 'Exterior, Day' and 'Interior, Night.'"

At night, alone, I couldn't stop thought from coming.  Every time I closed my eyes, I saw the murder, could hear Theo pleading for his life.  "Can't we talk about this?" he asked his killer.  It was so Dutch, so sweet and innocent.  Theo must have thought there was some kind of misunderstanding that could be worked out.  he couldn't see that his killer was caught in a wholly different worldview.  nothing Theo could have said to him would have made any difference.

The DKDB was mandated to protect only royalty, diplomates, and members of parliament.  The justice minister, Piet Hein Donner, had said on the news, "We can't have on half of the population protecting the other half of the population."

People accuse me of having interiorized a feeling of racial inferiority, so thatI attack my own culture out of self-hatred because I want to be white.  This is a tiresome argument.  Tell me, is freedom then only for white people?  Is it self-love to adhere to my ancestor's traditions and mutilate my daughters?  To agree to be humiliated and powerless?  To watch passively as my countrymen abuse women and slaughter each other in pointless disputes?  When I came to a new culture, where I saw for the first time that human relations could be different, would it have been self-love to see that as a foreign cult, which Muslims are forbidden to practice?

Life is better in Europe than it is in the Muslim world because human relations are better, and one reason human relations are better is that in the West, life on earth is valued in the here and now and individuals enjoy rights and freedoms that are recognized and protected by the state.  To accept subordination and abuse because Allah willed it - that, for me, would be self-hatred.

Posted by: Jason at 12:27 PM in Book Notes | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 570 words, total size 4 kb.

09/10/07

Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World

Paris 1919:  Six Months that Changed the World
Margaret MacMillan
2003 Random House Trade Paperback Edition

The ties between World Wars I and II, between World War I and the Cold War, and between World War I and the current situation are, to say the least, interesting.  I have thought before that World War I never actually ended, that these neat categories - WWI, WWII, Cold War, War on Terror - belie the continuation of the Great War.

MacMillan doesn't write this, but she does lay the groundwork for this sort of thinking with descriptions of the people and causes represented at the Paris Peace Conference.  There are fascinating insights into the characters and movements - the major players like the Big Four (Britain, France, Italy, and United States), but also the lesser and wannabe players like Ho Chi Min, Chaim Weizmann, and the myriad others who came to Paris with hopes of making good on claims they believed were rooted in President Wilson's Fourteen Points.  And also the growing shadow of Bolshevism.

The following are excerpts from near the end of the book - chapter 30, Finishing Up.

Paris itself became a giant party, as the streets filled with people singing and dancing.  Along the Grands Boulevards the buildings blazed with lights and cars towed the captured German cannon about.  (It took the authorities days to collect them all again.)

While Paris rejoiced, Germany mourned.  In its cities and towns the flags flew at half-mast.  Even good socialists now talked of "a peace of shame."  Nationalists blamed the traitors at home who had stabbed Germany in the back, and the governing coalition which had signed the treaty.

While the Treaty of Versailles provided for sanctions - specifically, prolonging the occupation of the Rhineland - the Allies had to want to use them.  By the 1930s neither the British nor the French government was prepared to do so over reparations or anything else.

In 1924, a British member of the Inter-Allied Commission of Control, which was established by the Treaty of Versailles to monitor Germany's compliance with the military terms, published an article in which he complained that the German military had systematically obstructed its work and that there were widespread violations of the disarmament clauses of the treaty.  There was a storm of protest in Germany at this calumny.  (Years later, after Hitler had come to power, German generals admitted that the article had been quite right.)

The extent of the violations was not completely known at the time, even to the French.  Flying clubs were suddenly very popular and were so effective that when Hitler became chancellor he was able to produce a German air force almost at once.  The Prussian police force, the largest in Germany, became more and more military in its organization and training.  Its officers could easily have moved into the German army, and some did.  The self-appointed Freikorps, which had sprung up in 1918, dissolved and its members reformed with dazzling ingenuity as labor gangs, bicycle agencies, traveling circuses and detective bureaus.  Some moved wholesale into the army.  The Treaty of Versailles limited the number of officers in the army itself to 4,000 but it said nothing about noncommissioned officers.  So the German army had 40,000 sergeants and corporals.

Factories that had once produced tanks now turned out inordinately heavy tractors; the research was useful for the future.  In the Berlin cabarets, they told jokes about the worker who smuggled parts out of a baby carriage factory for his new child only to find when he tried to put them all together he kept getting a machine gun.  All over Europe, in safe neutral countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden, companies whose ultimate ownership was in German hands worked on tanks or submarines.  The safest place of all, farthest from the prying eyes of the Control Commission, was the Soviet Union.  In 1921 the two pariah nations of Europe realized they had something to offer each other.  In return for space and secrecy for experiments with tanks, aircraft and poison gas, Germany provided technical assistance and training.

With different leadership in the Western democracies, with stronger democracy in Wiemar Germany, without the damage done by the Depression, the story might have turned out differently.  And without Hitler to mobilize the resentments of ordinary Germans and to play on the guilty consciences of so many in the democracies, Europe might not have had another war so soon after the first.  The Treaty of Versailles is not to blame.  It was never consistently enforced, or only enough to irritate German nationalists without limiting German power to disrupt the peace of Europe.  With the triumph of Hitler and the Nazis in 1933, Germany had a government that was bent on destroying the Treaty of Versailles.  In 1939, von Ribbentrop, the German foreign minister, told the victorious Germans in Danzig:  "The Fuhrer has done nothing but remedy the most serious consequences which this most unreasonable of all dictates in history imposed upon a nation and, in fact, upon the whole of Europe, in other words repair the worst mistakes committed by none other than the statesmen of the western democracies."

Posted by: Jason at 01:32 PM in Book Notes | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 872 words, total size 6 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
22kb generated in CPU 0.02, elapsed 0.0292 seconds.
22 queries taking 0.0163 seconds, 38 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.