Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Children of Men and From Hell to Victory

Continuing the war theme on Tuesday evening I watched off and on the last hour of From Hell to Victory made in 1979 with George Peppard, George Hamilton, San Wannamaker and Horst Buckholtz star as four of six friends, one becomes a German Officer who dine together at a Paris restaurant one August just before World War Two and vow to try and meet up on the same day each year. At the end of the war two men and one woman survive and drink toasts to those who did not.

The film contains some glorious errors such as one GI holding a bazooka rocket launcher the wrong way round. In one tank battle the advancing German tanks are post war US tanks. Spitfires are used with German markings and in one recognisance mission the plane used is a vulnerable slow transport plane. These and other mistakes are provided by .

However what I saw of the film was enjoyable, something which cannot be said for the Sicilian which has an excruciatingly bad script with Joss Ackland as the Sicilian Mafia Lord, and Terence Stamp as the cultured landowning Lord, in league with the Catholic Church and the anti communist political parties, to destroy the Sicilian, an up dated Robin Hood prepared to kill the enemies of the people and who is tricked into being involved with a massacre of some communists and their families, and which for some inexplicable reason results in the incident adversely affecting the rise of communism in local elections in Scilly, so the fascists, the right wing and catholic supporting political parties retain control. In the end he has to sacrifice his life in order to protect his wife and unborn child who escape to Mafia protection in the USA. Although he has arranged for the people to have land they can never forgive him for the murder and wounding of several of their communist supporters and families, although he was unaware of what was to happen. He dies accepting that he will be remembered but not venerated which is as it should be. The film closes with a young disciple on horseback in a pose identical to that which the Sicilian had been photographed on the cover of a magazine such as Time.

A twist in the story of the film is that Gore Vidal claimed that he had written ninety percent of the script without any crediting which is one of the most extraordinary boasts given the outcome. The tale is supposed to be based on a Sicilian bandit and was a book by Mario Puzo prior to the Godfather trilogy.

The third film experienced over the past forty eight hours, is a dark film in every sense and of a different order featuring Clive Owen in Children of Men as a kind of reluctant Joseph, and Michael as an aging hippy friend. I decided against seeing the film in theatre when it was first released despite good reviews, because of its depressing and many times depiction of a doomed world because of the failure to take appropriate action to stem the abuse of the planet. The film does not explain why in 2027 the last human being under 17 years has died, as during the previous two decades women world wide had become sterile.

The film opens in a Britain under a right wing fascist dictatorship in which anyone who is not British born and white appears to be rounded up and put in cages, killed or banished back to where they came from. Clive Owen works for a government department involved in the totalitarian regime and he is abducted on his way home after a day of disasters including a bomb blowing up of the café where he has just visited by Muslim terrorists. The group who abducts is a secret underground bunch of idealists opposed to government policy on no British white and led by his former partner of twenty years previous who he has not seen since they split up after the death of their two year old child. She wants Clive to use his influence to obtain the paper work to enable a young black woman to escape and reach a group who go under the name of the Human Project. Clive is unaware of the significance of the young woman until she reveals that she in the last stages of pregnancy a fact which is the modern day equivalent of a Virgin birth with all the similar consequential reactions from adoration of the infant after she gives birth by the soldiers of the government and the people they are interring and a prize to further sectarian causes and interests.

Clive Owen's former partner is murdered by the second in command so he can take over the group, get hold of the child and use to gain wider power and control, although the film does not explain how this is to be achieved, and the group then murder Michael Caine and his wife for harbouring and protecting Clive and the still pregnant girl. Fortunately Caine has a contact who is a guard at a processing camp which allows some to go to Bexhill which has become a ghetto which is about to rise up led my the Muslim terrorists. He is willing to get them to the processing camp for money, an unusual situation as he is usually bribed to help others get out and he cooperates until finding that she has a child and that Clive and she has a great price on their heads by the state. They escape from him only to be captured by the group which his girl friend led, although how they came to track them down is also a mystery. The child is separated from the mother and Clive but miraculously the three are reunited in the midst of the uprising which ends with atomic or nuclear explosions. A wounded Clive, perhaps fatally, escape in a small boat to the spot where they are to be picked up by the Human Project a sea going vessel and the film closes on what is intended to be a positive note.

The film has aroused speculation as to its intentions. Among the ingredients are the implications of tightening immigration control, Muslim extremism, and the difficulties of maintaining an ethical position when attempting to overthrow a totalitarian regime. For me the symbolism of a black Madonna and child is paramount. The second coming which ordinary people, whether they are soldiers or the persecuted, recognise, the last opportunity for the majority to prepare themselves for a spiritual life after the physical has ended. Alas there is no evidence that the majority believe in any form of after life, or self aware physical reincarnation or that it makes a fundamental difference how they behave even if they do, and the reality is that if we allow our society to degenerate into the kind portrayed in this film, then we are doomed without escaping the physical horrors of civil strife, mass extermination, eventual self destruction, but we are also damned to eternity in the eyes of other self aware being in other worlds and galaxies who investigate our physical remains.

No comments:

Post a Comment