With such glorious weather and some glorious cricket it is difficult to keep attention focused one what is happening in the earth world around and on politics at home. I attempted to assuage some guilt by going to the Cineworld Bolden on a very hot sunny afternoon to see The East, a film I had not read or heard a review but from the brief note attracted my attention- A young woman is placed undercover in an environmental action protest group and becomes affected, some will say infected by her role.
I have recently reported on the problems with the special national security unit encountered here in the UK when male officers placed undercover in similar organisation commenced long term relationships with female activists, clearly harming the young women in the process, fathering a child in one instance and becoming confused themselves about their role and identities. It is an inevitable consequence of individuals however well assessed and prepared when placed undercover which requires new identities with back stories and twenty four seven role play, especially if the cause of such groups is usually a worthy one and the problem is with the methods.
Non violent direct action will also work when the cause is shared by the majority and mass civil non violent protest as part of an extensive non violent campaign should succeed as long as those participating, especially the leaders are prepared to sacrifice their lives and refuse to retaliate in kind whatever the provocation. Gandhi was successful in India but not in South Africa and he failed to prevent the carnage between Hindu and Muslim which followed partition at independence and with is ongoing violence to this day. The civil rights movement in the USA made great strides in terms of changing the law nation wide and changing substantial public opinion but racism as strongly as ever before.
Few these days are will become fundamental catholic, Muslims or non sectarian extremists willing to put their lives at risk through non violence and Satyagraha but more are prepared to resort to the behaviour of those they fight against, the justification of governments to reduce personal freedoms in the fight against terror,
The East is set in the USA and the young female undercover operative has been recruited from a national security force by one of the new international agencies attempting to protect large co-operations from those working to expose their at times murderous activities. Sarah Moss played by Brit Marling who co wrote the film script is the former FBI officer who is in a loving sexual relationship and lies that she is going abroad on a mission when in fact she is about to join an anarchist collective located a comparatively short distance away. Why she needed to lie in this way is not explained but is an indication that this is a personality to who find the her work more exciting and satisfying than her actual outside of work life. The relationship appears doomed at this point and the inevitability that she will establish a more reading relationship with someone she can admire is self evident, or at least it was to me.
The group in question are a collection of individuals with agenda’s and pasts which through the course of the film are revealed. The group, one of several loosely connected cells. Are located on land which it transpires belong to one of the group, where he burned down the family home when inherited. The first target is a pharmaceutical firm which manufactures a drug intended to protect those visiting other climes from local diseases but which in fact can have a lethal side effect for some individuals. The group use a former fraternity contact to gate crash a party and lace the champagne with what transpires to be a mild dose of the drug so that the executives involved only suffer minor ill effects.
In the second attack the target are the parents of one the group who as CEO of another international company is polluting a lake with lethal effluent which has in turn polluted the main water system of the community with lethal consequences. Father repents at the last moment but his daughter is fatally wounded as the police arrive on the scene is buried in a woodland grave.
The role of the undercover officer is discovered by the cell leader with whom she has had a passionate relationship, and he persuades her carry out the third strike planned, to steal the master file from her agency which contains the information on the operatives who work undercover for the firm in some thirty countries world wide. The plan is to release their information Wiki leaks style tot eh media. The young woman carries out the mission but pretends she was unable to do so, concerned that the manner of the proposed use of the information will place lives at risk. They two decide to go their separate ways while she goes on a world wide mission (how this is financed is not explained) to meet up with the operatives and persuade them not help the companies but to help her expose their short comings.
The film is produced by Ridley and Tony Scott with Zat Batmanglij directing and who also co writing the script. Zat and Brit spent two months in 2009 joining an anarchist collective who lived on the food discarded by supermarkets and homes, to hop on trains and living on rooftops and they commenced to craft the film idea before they commenced their first film Sound of my Voice in 2011.