January 19th, 2009


On "Defiance", and other matters

Longish thoughts, inspired by viewing Defiance today at the theater ...
  • First of all ... the movie is quite good.  It's a World War II story of which I was unaware.  The movie executes it exceedingly well.
  • Along the way, they manage to explore a number of interesting dilemmas, but probably the key one is this: how do you figure out what the rules for ethical warfare are?  Do you walk into a house and kill a man in cold blood, who killed your parents the same way?  Do you kill a civilian who might betray you to the Nazis?  How is shooting a Nazi and beating a Nazi to death different, if at all?  These are questions that still don't have good answers.
  • It occurred to me while watching the movie ... this is the second WWII movie I've seen this winter (Valkyrie).  Which got me to thinking ... I can probably name a couple dozen movies set in WWII, but I can't name more than a handful of Vietnam movies, and only one Korean war movie (M*A*S*H, which was really a movie about Vietnam disguised as a Korean war movie).  I wonder why WWII seems to be so rich in storytelling possibilities, while the other wars seem less so.
  • Of course, my wife & I talked about it at dinner after the movie, and she attributes the phenomenon to two factors:
    • The obvious "good vs. evil" distinction present in the Allied vs. Axis conflict.  After all, "good vs. evil" is a classic storytelling form.
    • The utterly huge nature of the conflict ... war which rages across three continents, involving many different campaigns, simply creates a huge space (temporal as well as geographical) in which stories can occur.
  • (My wife is a pretty smart woman, by the way.)
In other news ... for the video shoot, I struck a compromise.  I couldn't see my way towards not wearing a suit coat, but I wore a sweater instead of a tie.  So, it's a little more dressy than I usually am, but not incredibly so.

Oh, and this isn't gonna just be an internal little video shoot ... it'll probably air on WXYZ (Channel 7 in the Detroit area) as part of the college video series.  (You can view some previous videos; look at the ones labeled "Kettering Report".)  I'll be sure to post the video if/when it's made available ... there's no guarantee that I'll get any camera time, but the folks shooting the piece seemed to think that I offered some nice sound bytes.

I think I'm gonna play hooky tomorrow from work/school and watch the inaugural.  I have to admit ... I'm a sucker for ceremonial, and this is one of the few pieces of ceremony that we as a republic indulge in.

EDIT: For some reason, I keep calling this movie "Deliverance".  Sigh.

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