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Posts Tagged ‘war of ideology’

Man for whom abstract thinking is natural can always latch onto an idea, however impractical it may turn out in the end. Like the hero of Cervantes ideas turn always, blades one blowing this way and another in that way. History is such ideas creating a blur that only a fool would want to claim his idea is the best.

There is nothing heroic about taking on impossible if it is going to end in wholesale bloodshed. See the savage butchery recently perpetrated by the so called Daesh. They imagine they would thereby revive a Caliphate. Earlier  Joseph Stalin sent some millions to gulags and to death for creating a Worker’s paradise. How did it fare?

We only need consider Lenin’s idea of a Worker’s paradise when the Bolsheviks violently over threw the Tsarist regime. It was similar to a theocratic state John Calvin ushered in Geneva several centuries before. It did not work in Europe then; neither did it in Soviet Russia. Ideas are fine but man cannot stick to it all the way through. Did not the Allies set about ridding the post-war world of Totalitarian ideology? Nuremberg, the German city associated with the pageantry which the Nazi regime staged as they climbed to power was a potent symbol for the German nation. The Allies was sending a message loud and clear to the world. Nuremburg Trials was to be a show trial but as the legal process went about its rounds there was a perception among the Western powers that Soviet Union was the Threat that they needed to thwart. After all did not they dismantle the Nazi apparatus root and all? The US saw to that scientists who had helped Hitler’s war efforts were smuggled out to their country under Operation Paperclip*. V2 rocket program soon would provide the nucleus for the space war that came in play in the 60s. It was not surprising that the Trial of the century evaporated in the hustle and bustle of meeting the Cold War in offing.

Man has capacity to develop an idea like a Nuclear bomb to bring the WWII quickly to a halt. Neither his foresight and hindsight do match evenly. Of this we see even now. The Allies are at presented seized of the fact the Jihadi elements may lay hands on a dirty nuclear bomb. It has been thus progress that man cobbled up in the many innovations, has fared. Progress without exception has proved false.

Man is loath to turn 180 degrees from an idea, to which he has sold himself as well in which his experience also gives him certain pointers. Though failed in practice he trusts in his own power to pull it off. After the demise of the Imperial Rome, under Constantine the Great and Charlemagne (the Holy Roman Empire) the idea has been tried; Under Mussolini it was revived to no avail. Each idea and those who stake their legitimacy on its basis must cope with changed circumstances. In France the Second Empire under Napoleon III was a fiasco. He did not anticipate the revolutionary spirit of Europe and emergence of Germany under Bismarck. The events across the globe never stand still but like group waves negotiate with new ones where energy is passed around. Who shall cash in on these transactions by means of war, religion and cultural trade off remains to be seen. Pagan Rome under Constantine underwent a sea-change. Christianity became the state religion. The split between Rome and Constantinople as a result of political upheavals, became further weakened: The Church of Rome and the Greek Orthodox Church of the East would no longer come as one due to the  doctrinal differences. At present the idea of Caliphate like the idea of Imperial idea of Rome is doomed if lessons of history are of any guide. Cashing in on the demise of an old order of Byzantine Empire the hordes of Saracens, Moors and Arabs created a Caliphate that died its natural death. Those who are beating the dead donkey shall soon know what it is to stop the tide engulfing them from all across the globe.

benny

* Operation Paperclip (1949–1990) was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. It was conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) and in the context of the burgeoning Cold War. One purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific expertise and knowledge to the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, as well as to inhibit post-war Germany from redeveloping its military research capabilities. The Soviet Union had competing extraction programs known as “trophy brigades” and Operation Osoaviakhim. (ack:wikipedia)

 

 

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An Ode on Snowden’s Flight

 

Here am I Edward Snowden

Bowed down by this burden

On a flight to th’ unknown,

With no destination-

How’s it all of sudden

The world  deem me as some evildoer

And would seize what load that I go under?

For all gold in the world how shall it ease 

This awful sin,  burden of my conscience?

I like Jonah of old  cast out by seamen

Do I see  any whale in the horizon?

There the Bear and the Eagle palaver-

No good can come out,

No good can come out

With their schism so sized as leviathan

None deserves hell as the pair.

Chorus:
Oh Im undone, undone
Ding dong sounds the knell;
With each passing bell
I know I’m undone Snowden

benny

 

  

Original poem is given here(excerpt)
‘Twas at the Royal Feast, for Persia won,
By Phillip’s Warlike Son:
Aloft in awful State
The God-like Heroe sate
On his Imperial Throne:
His valiant Peers were plac’d around;
Their Brows with Roses and with Myrtles bound.
(So shou’d Desert in Arms be Crown’d:)
The Lovely Thais by his side,
Sate like a blooming Eastern Bride
In Flow’r of Youth and Beauty’s Pride.
Happy, happy, happy Pair!
None but the Brave
None but the Brave
None but the Brave deserves the Fair.

CHORUS.
Happy, happy, happy Pair!
None but the Brave
None but the Brave
None but the Brave deserves the Fair.

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Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate. During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November, Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle. (Kelly is a former Marine who served in Iraq and was pictured on his website in military gear holding his automatic weapon and promoting the event who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law.)
What triggered this outrage was in course of a routine business conducted in the Capitol. The House passed the overhaul of the Healthcare while the Republicans want a repeal of the Bill introduced by the President. Should such matters erupt in violence? In a country one in 8 (I may be wrong as to the exact figures.b) suffer from some kind of mental disorder and gun culture so deeply embedded in national life, tragedy was waiting to happen.
Bipartisan politics still rule America and last March Giffords’ Tucson office was vandalized. Now looking back one can see it was a wake-up call of violence that was to follow. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin’s decision to list Giffords’ seat as one of the top “targets” in the midterm elections.

“For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the cross-hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action,” Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC.
The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it occurring in Arizona.
Sarah Palin as we all know is in a hurry to occupy the White House. In her gray cells least troubled by wisdom, political acumen or fair play, rhetoric is all that matters. Luckily for her there is a large group of lunatics who mistake intemperate speech as speaking the mind straight.I suppose there must be still sane people on both sides who can make a correct choice when time comes.
Listening to the Republican Congressman from Tennessee today made me laugh at the humbug that is aired about. Naturally the GOP is on damage control. ‘The assassin reads Marx’ is what Rep. Lamar has to stress about the incident. (State of the Union-CNN). Implying a man who shoots to kill after so much of venom and hatred being spewed around by the Tea Party Movement, is not one of them must make an ostrich take Rep. Lamar for its peer. (The assassin is a white male. No one was quick to resort to a racial profiling shows some improvement in the manner mass media reported the news.)
The dead includes a 9 year old girl and a District Judge who had dropped by to see the victim. .(AP News- Pauline Arrillaga)
benny

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Themes

The opening scene shows a chapel with two figures lounging in the grass. In Poland the Church has always been a refuge in any crisis. However crisis for the two does not stem from their faith but has to do with their conscience: The war is over yet death does not stop.
One of them has to assassinate while the other is responsible for him..

Maciek: “I’ve waited for bigger things.”

Maciek(Zbigniew Cybulski) and Andrzej(Adam Pawlikowsky) are vetran Home Army soldiers, and friends,licked into shape by their struggles as members of a resistance movement. Maciek the assassin is young and is the responsibility of the older Andrzej who in turn is responsible to another. This however does  not prevent an attack of conscience. It is an individual thing though Maciek pulls the trigger for the good of many. The dark glasses that Maciek wears is a metaphor: it cuts off clear moral judgment till he does what he is expected to do on a command passed through many hands. Maciek’s intended victim is one who also fought the war on the same side. In a fine performance Maciek brings out his dilemma and tragedy.

The Nazi Germany has just surrendered. The war is over. In such a case why carry on with killing in time of peace? This moral dilemma gives the film its internal energy and it gives each character a point of reference to a particular story set in Free Poland; it also stands true for cases that might be anywhere. Poland as a nation had for long been subjugated by other nations including Russia; in her terrible hour patriots fought side by side suffering the same pain and death; now with their freedom in hand as the Regional Secretary of the Communist says,’The end of war is not the end of our war. What kind of Poland we need to become.’ Szczuka (Waclav Zastrzezynski) representing the pro-Moscow People’s Army, has just survived an assassination attempt and he knows the two cement factory workers killed a little while ago died for nothing. War has decided the fate of nation very little; besides it spills over in times of peace killing the innocents as in time of war. So in the film Maciek gets another chance but very little time to sort out his moral confusion. To complicate matters he falls in love and it tells him that he ought to make some changes in his life. But does he really get that chance?

On May 8,1945 it is decision time: what kind of nation Poland should become. Throughout the night Reds had already fanned out occupying vital installations and deciding who gets what posts and other perquisites the new regime could give. The mayor for his loyalty to the Soviet Bloc has been elevated to a minister. His secretary Drewnowski (Bogumil Kobiela), a double agent dreams that it opens for him plenty of wealth. The newly elevated Minister and his cohorts, mingle with  members of Polish bourgeosie during the banquet to celebrate the victory. Maciek and Andrzej slip among the crowd in the bar.

Maciek observes.”He has got a stupid back,” the guest turns around. Maciek tells Andzej,”His front is stupid  also.”

There has been a complication in that Captain Wilks in whose detachment the two were members, is killed and Andrzej has to take his place by 4:30 in the morning. Maciek would like very much to go with him but he has to finish  his assignment first.

The film resolves the fate of two representatives of the ideological divide Maciek and Szczuka represent. The irony of it all is that each is a double for the other:  one could be the surrogate father for the younger. The younger within a span of day is at hand to give a match to light the cigarette of the older twice. Each time the viewer is left with no doubt the two exude certain empathy that only can be because of their close relationship by blood. Their political divide is as superficial as the Hungarian cigarette (‘because it is stronger,’) that Maciek smokes while Szczuka settles for the American brand. They both are Polish through and through and the ideology of old or new is like rustle of leaves. The tree must still stand whether winds of change came across the Steppes or not.

This film is one among 120 great films and is included in my Movie Lists.

In Depth

Based on Jerzy Andrzejewski’s 1948 novel of the same name, Ashes and Diamonds is the Wajda’s last in the war trilogy, following A Generation and Kanal.  Adapted for the screen by Andrzej Wajda and the author time and space have been condensed to less than twenty-four hours in and around a single location—the hotel Monopol. The title comes from a 19th Century poem by Cyprian Norwid ‘…Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond/The Morning Star of everlasting triumph.

In the town’s leading hotel and banquet hall, Monopol., a grand fête is being organized  for a newly appointed minor minister by his assistant. Maciek having missed his mission manages to get an entry into a room with the desk clerk who was present in Warsaw even while the uprising resulted in the destruction of the Old Warsaw The old porter recalls ‘It is like losing your arm.’. He also remembers the chestnut trees in particular. This reminiscence echoes in the part of the Party secretary who we understand had taken part in Spain. His sad memories have a parallel in one of the dramatic moments at the bar, where Andrzej is nervously waiting for dawn Maciek lights glasses with alcohol as a memorial to their fallen comrades. Andzej snaps crossly,”We are still alive.” The realization Maciek played with his life and still he has to play with it is a turning point in the film.

Maciek: “I swear these violets smell sweeter and sweeter.”

The episode with hotel’s bar-maid Krystyna (Ewa Krzyzewska) begins here. Their love is physical as he is not totally at ease to receive her love. Even as she visits him in his room(right next that of his target) he is frantically trying to cover up his real mission.( He must similarly lie to the old porter who warms up to him.). His sense of responsibility will not allow him to becompletely on level. Nor the girl is free from her past ( She tells simply her father was killed by the Germans and her mother during the uprising) and it is she puts a full stop realising he is lost to her forever.

Maciek abruptly takes leave of her as his victim is anxiously waiting to reclaim his son Marek. He has been taken prisoner by the Reds. He also belonged to the detachment of Captain Wilks. By inference Maciek is almost like his son.

We are given to understand Marek is a child of Szczuka and his mother none other than the wife of Major Stanieswiez. who has given order for his elimination! Freedom for Poland cuts across love whether illicit or normal. There is a scene in which Maciek witnesses a domestic tragedy. Fiancee of one of the worker killed by him is comforted by one who is none other than her boss and he has nylon stockings as a gift. They are ready for a roll in the bed. She knows the men have only one thing in their mind. Yes social life, open or secret cannot run its normal course. The old order has been completely over thrown and is visually summed up in the broken down statue of Christ in the crypt.

Before the close we are given a chance to probe Maciek’s emotional undercurrents and his need to change his way of life. It underscores the pathos that the tragedy must awake in us. This crucial moment follows when Maciek goes for a walk with Krystyna and ends up in a bombed-out church. Maciek realizes what he had been missing in life. (He could have had an education or settle down to a regular family life every day warmed by love, awakened by his brief love-making with the barmaid.) The aridity of his past, a life of the mind is brought to him with a sledge-hammer force by the two innocent victims he sees in the crypt. The result of his botched attempt. It was all he had to show for his life as a sewer rat. But he is committed to fulfill his duty.

When he does and as Szczuka falls, it is a dramatic moment and the built up tension in the viewer literally explodes: fireworks celebrating the end of the war fill the sky.

At appointed time Maciek goes to where Andrzej awaits in a truck. From concealment he watches as the other accomplice Drewnowski is exposed.  Andrzej throws him to the ground and drives off. When Drewnowski sees Maciek, he calls out to him and Maciek flees only to run into a patrol of Reds He is shot and ends up dying in a landscape strewn with trash.

No empire or old order however feeble passes away quietly but makes quiet a din. We have in our time seen in the Balkans and it was so when the Ottoman Empire came crashing at the end of WWI.

What a trash new emerging nations make of the fine ‘ideals’ of the old order!

Quote:’The measure of my satisfacton is that during the writing of the book I pictured Mack Chelmicky entirely differently. Now when I see the film I see him only this way, as Cybulski played him.” Andrezjewski

Directed by

Andrzej Wajda

Written by

Jerzy Andrzejewski

Starring

Zbigniew Cybulski,

Ewa Krzyzewska,

Waclaw Zastrzezynski

Running time

110 min.

Language

Polish

Trivia:

The entire film takes place over two days, May 8th and 9th 1945.

One of Martin Scorsese‘s favorite movies. He showed it to Leonardo DiCaprio while making The Departed (2006), as main characters of these two movies have to deal with the same dilemmas.

The title comes from a 19th century poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid and references the manner in which diamonds are formed from heat and pressure acting upon coal.

Director ‘Andzrej Wajda’ realized that his leading man Zbigniew Cybulski would be constrained by period costume so he allowed him to wear clothes that felt more natural to him.

After the film’s release, sales of sunglasses shot up because Zbigniew Cybulski wore them consistently throughout the film.

Wajda was particularly influenced by The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

Because of the film’s nihilistic tone, the Polish authorities were not keen on it being exhibited outside of the country. Until a low-level official had a print shipped out to the Venice Film Festival where it played to great acclaim.

René Clair was a particular fan of the film.

(ack: imdb,wikipedia,criterion)

benny

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