I saw a posting on “The Federalist” that was a rebuttal to the criticism of the movie “Master and Commander”. The critic claimed the movie could be used as a sleep aid. I saw Russell Crow’s reply to the critic and don’t feel like he needed any help.
“That’s the problem with kids these days. No focus.”Russell Crowe
“Peter Weirs film is brilliant. An exacting, detail oriented, epic tale of fidelity to Empire & service, regardless of the cost. Incredible cinematography by Russell Boyd & a majestic soundtrack. Definitely an adults movie.”
This posting brought to mind a conversation I had with my twenty something niece. She is college educated. On the other hand she is from New Jersey. On the plus side, she has relocated to Texas. However, the flaws and deviance learned in New Jersey runs deep. Who knows, another five years in Texas and redemption may be hers.
Back to the discussion. I mentioned Humphry Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. I received a blank look. Then I tried “Casablanca.” Nope. I knew better than to bring up, “As Time Goes By” sung by Dooley Wilson. It could be just me. I rarely pass up a chance to watch “Casablanca.” I’ve probably seen it twenty times. I tried other stars, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart…nobody home.
I am not sure I buy life imitates art. However, art can reflect the times. “Master and Commander” generally reflected the work of author Patrick O’Brien. His series, upon which the movie was based, was historically accurate. The movie tried to capture that feeling.
(Next time you watch the movie look closely on the sailing sequence where HMS Surprise is captured bows on. Look for the crewman taking a crap. He is just above the bowsprit.) Does it add anything to the plot? Nope. But now you know where the seamen’s head is located. So much for historical accuracy.
Back to Bogart and Bergman and Casablanca. Neither lead liked the other. They only thing they agreed upon was that they didn’t like the movie. It doesn’t show in the finished product. Is it a love story, a war story, an espionage thriller? Yes.
For those unfamiliar with the plot. France is occupied by the Germans. Areas not under direct German control are administered by the German puppet Vichy government. Casablanca is just such a place. People fleeing the Nazis wind up in Casablanca hoping to use it as a stepping off point to America or other places outside of German influence.
Rick Blaine owns a bar and casino, “Ricks Café American”. He is an ex-pat American. One day an old flame, Ingrid Bergman walks into Ricks with husband, Victor Laszlo, in tow. Rick is still pissed at being dumped. Rick has something Ingrid Bergman wants. She wants it to benefit Blaine’s replacement and her. Let the fun and games begin.
The movie tics all the boxes. Love, hate, intrigue, patriotism, desperation with a healthy dose of cynicism. It is about choices good and bad. It has bad guys, Nazis, good guys Rick and opportunists Captain Renault.
As the movie was being made, WWII was raging. In fact the opening of the movie was pushed up to take advantage of the American entry into the war, in North Africa. There is a backstory. Many of the actors, some credited and others uncredited had escaped Europe and the Nazis. Conrad Veidt (the head Nazi) fled Germany with his Jewish wife.
I am not arguing that “Casablanca” or “Master and Commander” are entirely accurate as history or psychology or is reflective of the human condition. But after watching one might be challenged to ask questions about issues raised.
Consider, these days we have almost instant communication. I understand that an Arleigh Burke class destroyer engaged in one area of the world can be monitored in real time back in the United States. Now look at the position Captain Aubrey finds himself in Master and Commander. His mission and orders are based on information that could be six month to a year old. As Captain, he had nobody to turn to once he determined how things had changed. All that remained was the bottom line, succeed.
What does a movie goer of today have to discuss? ‘Do you think a head chopped off with a sword would really bounce like a basketball? What type of superhero costume would you design? Of course Wonder Woman could beat Mike Tyson in a fight. Can a car really pull 5 g’s in a turn like in “Fast and Furious #265?’ It seems like anything more weighty than that is beyond the ability of a twenty something to comprehend.
I don’t want intimate that twenty somethings are shallow, but I’d watch out for reefs.