September 2002

 

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT  (1930, 130 min.)

Appearing at the very front of this great black & white masterpiece are these words, “This film is neither and accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it …”  The central characters are just young school boys in WW I Germany.  Fired up with extreme patriotic pride by their fanatical schoolmaster, they rise up as one and enlist in the great national cause, thrilled to be joining the fray, as if it were only some kind of noble play. Sooner than they imagine, however, they are at the front, the merciless thunder of human destruction raining down upon them incessantly, the degradation of terror and death everywhere.  In no time at all, their illusions about the glories of war are completely blown away.  Through the eyes of one of these boy soldiers, we experience his burgeoning disgust with the daily horror of human slaughter and his impatience with those who rationalized it all back on the home front.  This profound, poetic visualization of war’s tragedy justifiably won the Academy Award for best picture in 1930.

 

(ANTI) WAR FILMS

FULL METAL JACKET and Stanley Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE present the likely realities of modern warfare chillingly and satirically.  SAVING PRIVATE RYAN effectively explodes the illusion that war is fun.  I felt shell-shocked after seeing it!  ATOMIC CAFÉ, a documentary about U.S. detonations in the fifties of mega-monstrous H-Bombs in the Pacific, manages to be almost funny in an ironic kind of way.  Other studies of war that might incline us to study war no more are APOCALYPSE NOW, THE VICTORS and Sam Peckinpah’s CROSS OF IRON. –BJ

 

 

“War don’t ennoble men, it turns ‘em into dogs, poisons the soul,” from THE THIN RED LINE

 

 

“Genius is patience.” GEORGE DE BUFFON

 

 

 

THE TERRORIST (1995, 95 min.)

A film made in India by Santosh Sivan, offers a vision that is psychologically intense, gorgeously rendered and solidly realistic.  THE TERRORIST is a sensitive portrait of a 19 year-old girl, who, having suffered the violent loss of family and friends, is more than ready to kill soldiers of the state and even blow herself up as a suicide bomber to advance her people’s cause.  And so, she volunteers to strap plastic explosives around her waist and, at a pre-arranged time, push a little concealed red button, assassinating a VIP who is opposing the guerilla movement, eliminating herself and God-only-knows who else might be in the area.  As she is secretly preparing and being briefed for this mission, however, internal realizations unexpectedly occur as she interacts with some particularly intuitive and wise people in the house where she is staying, ostensibly to study agriculture.  An older gentleman of great humanity and perception, her landlord, intervenes with subtle, telling effect as her momentous day of self-martyrdom approaches.  Finally, though, it’s all up to her, and sharing her struggle vicariously is a wrenching, but extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience. 

 

P. O. Box 3411 / Sarasota, Florida 34230

joynerbill28@gmail.com 

 

 

CROWN OF CREATION

The exceptional high school students in Wilton, Connecticut, who quickly became my working/learning companions, inspired and educated me!  We organized ourselves in task groups to discover the world around us, under the banner of Media Explorations at Large (M.E.A.L.).  One evening in New York City, after a daylong walking tour, under the sure guidance of Stan Summers, we found ourselves at the Fillmore East rock emporium where we experienced The Jefferson Airplane.  Stan even managed to introduce us to the Airplane’s bassist, Jack Cassady, and legendary producer, Bill Graham, before the show! After Buddy Guy’s great opening blues vibes and a lengthy intermission, the final scenes of KING KONG were shown, the crowd cheering for the ape, of course.  “It wasn’t the planes that got him.  It was beauty that killed the beast!” says the movie’s narrator, immediately after which, Grace Slick and The Airplane are on the stage, soaring into their opening anthem, “You are the Crown of Creation.”  –Bill Joyner

 

     
     
     
     

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 2002   SEPTEMBER    SEPTEMBRE    SEPTIEMBRE   2002