15 February 2009

historical movies

Here's a very profound quote regarding the recent Hollywood-Rendering of the 1944 German "Valkyrie" plot:
"It seemed that [Stauffenberg] was the man who unmistakably wore the mantle of a near-mystic German past, a warrior Germany, a noble Germany, a poetic Germany, a Germany of myth and longing."
British novelist Justin Cartwright is saying this and he has probably a lot of evidence since he already wrote a book about this part of history. His take on the movie can be read in an article he wrotre for the Guardian.

The movie "Valkyrie" has generally been praised for it's historic accuracy. I saw it Yesterday and also think that the movie-makers managed to be quite true to historic facts while still keeping the tension up and making a great Hollywood movie!

Why am I citing the above lines? I think that movies are a great way to learn about historic facts and to illustrate how thrilling history actually is! When I saw the 1944 plotters shortly after the assassination attempt trying to convice other officials to join them and to give up their allegiance to the regime, I was also thinking about the Chinese Civil War between "Nationalists" and "Communists" which the Nationalists lost partly because their army was corrupted, generals would mind their own cause, instead of the common cause. A very similar pattern to that seen in the movie!

While we can easily understand this today, the philosophy and ways of thinking of those people in their time can't be illustrated in a movie. Instead, movie makers have to "translate" words and actions from history figures so they can be understood today. I think this is especially noteworthy when we consider that even Today's philosophy and way of thinking is not consciously known by people. We take many things for granted and think they have always been that way, although notions might have changed a lot even in a very short amount of time, and are still different in different places / cultures of our planet. What we mean by "justice" now is very different from what the 1944 plotters meant and it might again be different in a future society only fifty or a hundred years from now! I think it is actually a very valuable part of history to learn about the evolution of thoughts, of people's self-perception, because it allows us to me more conscious about our own situation. If we take things for granted, we wouldn't think about changing them. But once we realise that it has not always been like that, even that it's not like that in other places of the world, then we are able to imagine an even better world and push for change.

Stauffenberg wished his old, romantic Germany back. Many people probably voted for Obama because they wished their familiar, pre-Bush America back. But their is no way back! Or even if their is, it's much better to go forward, towards a more modern age. To envision that age we have to look behind the surface of change... (There's more to say, but I'll leave that to another post.)

Suffice it to say, I had the same feeling of missing historical philosophy when I watched another movie, "The Duchess". I liked both movies a lot and I hope they will inspire some people to look behind the curtain of history... to understand the world better and understand themselves better.

Understanding is the basis for change!


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