Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ross Douthat on film

It's good when he writes about things he actually knows something about. His point is that you're more likely to get across a political point in a movie if the point is somewhat ambiguous, if the audience leaves the theater arguing over exactly what the story implies.

Douthat cites the examples of The Dark Knight (either an endorsement or an indictment of the Bush administration's anti-terror policies) and WALL-E (a sweet love story with an anti-consumerist message tucked into the conclusion). I would cite The Terminator (the original, not the crappy sequels) which at one level is an ultra-violent apocalypse, but at another level is one of the most effective pieces of pro-life propaganda ever produced, since the whole point of the movie is that John Connor must be born, if he is to save mankind.

And Douthat is exactly right about the failure of most political movies: They hammer you over the head with their point, attempting to substitute ideological certainty for dramatic interest. Frost/Nixon is a sermon, not a movie, and even most liberals aren't so stupid as to pay $10 to sit through a two-hour sermon about the evils of Richard Nixon.

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