April 21, 2016

Despots, Demagogues & Dictators when despair hits I go to the movies.




"…for within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king keeps death his court…"                                 ~ Shakespeare, Richard II


While I try to keep this little corner of the internet relatively apolitical, even the most politically inactive, apathetic or far-removed of us has had cause to gape in awestruck disbelieve at the campaigns being run for the nomination for President of the United States.  With soundbites and speeches that sound like satire, and countless elegant and not-so-elegant take downs - of suitability, honesty, intelligence, basic decency, even business savvy-apparently doing little to stem the incomprehensible popularity, I have done what I always do when despair hits I go to the movies.



Richard III - "Richard III" (1995)
As icy as Ian McKellen's blue-eyed stare, this brilliant version of Shakespeare's "Richard III," updated to a parallel 1930s fascist Britain, must rank among the chilliest films ever made.


 

President Judson Hammond - “Gabriel Over The White House” (1933)
Anyone looking for an insight into the mindset the last time that the world saw the rise of an unstoppable powerful authoritarian, totalitarian leader could do a lot worse than to watch Gregory La Cava’s utterly bonkers 1933 curio “Gabriel Over The White House”.


Idi Amin - "The Last King Of Scotland" (2006)
"The Last King of Scotland" is a bruising and brutal experience. But it's not just in tracking the rise of Amin, who would suspend the country's constitution, establish a military dictatorship and go on to murder 300,000 of his countrymen, that the story is valuable. With its fictionalized elements, it also becomes an intelligent dissection of the kind of willful blindness that can afflict those nearest to the intoxicating influence of absolute power.


Adenoid Hynkel - "The Great Dictator" (1940)
Comparing anyone to Adolf Hitler is a fool's errand, an example of the kind of hyperbole that says less about the one so accused than the person doing the accusing. So I am going to focus on Adenoid Hynkel instead. The centerpiece of Charlie Chaplin's 1940 masterpiece, Hynkel is a not-at-all-veiled approximation of Der F├╝hrer right down to mustache, murderously short temper and megalomaniacal desires.