November 30, 2003

Brian Tiemann has an interesting post responding to someone who thinks the film The Two Towers is infected with:

... a bizarre undertone of anti-war smarminess. . .

The Two Towers was a fantastic screenplay.�But they tried, in for me what was a horrifying way, to blur the lines between Good and Evil; to compromise with Evil; to preach the bizarre doctrine that maybe it was best to leave Evil alone and go one�s own way, trying to ignore it.� Oy.

As I follow the news and some blogs, I ask: am I that far gone that I am the only one to notice this?

In the Two Towers, everyone wants to surrender and nobody is Good....

Here are a few snippets from Brian's reply...
....just about everybody who was unarguably noble and "good" in the book was given a more self-interested and petty motivation in the movie, one which they all had to overcome-- each in his own way-- before they could be said truly to be on the side of Good. In the book, you knew who you could trust, implicitly; but in the movie, nobody in the entire landscape seemed trustworthy-- not Th�oden, not Faramir, not Treebeard, not even �omer. They all come off, at least at first, as people to be just as wary of as any Orc....


....I don't think the undertone is that it's "okay" to run away, run away. Quite the opposite-- I think the undercurrent of running away is there, but it's very thoroughly thrust away as a viable course of action, in almost every plotline, across the board. And I think Jackson's purpose in framing these plotlines in such a way-- making everybody into a reluctant and self-interested individual, but then hitting each with some event that turns him around and makes him sacrifice for the greater good-- is intended to establish character depth and growth in everybody under a unifying theme of duty even in the darkest of circumstances. I think that's stronger, even, than the book's portrayal, where these characters are much more self-sacrificing and bound to duty from the outset than how they're portrayed in the movie-- and so they grow less....


....But be that as it may, I think the upshot of all these character and plot tweaks in The Two Towers is very strongly pro-war, pro-doing-the-right-thing, pro-taking-necessary action. The movie is very clear in its insistence that the Enemy cannot be negotiated with, hidden from, or appeased, and any attempts to do so will only end in disaster. In fact, I'd wager that an avowed pacifist watching The Two Towers would be made vaguely uncomfortable by the consequences that it says await those who oppose war under any circumstances.

Or the rewards that it says await those willing to wage it.

I think the change in emphasis is very appropriate for our time.

* WORD NOTE: I don't think "smarminess" was quite the right word where it was used; smarmy means a sort of oily and excessive over-friendliness...

* Update to WORD NOTE: I think I'm wrong, I found this definition for Smarmy: 1. Hypocritically, complacently, or effusively earnest; unctuous. 2.Sleek

If that's the definition, then the word becomes fairly boring; you could call almost anything you don't like "smarmy." Also, I just saw this, from Mickey Kaus: If Hillary had gone to Iraq and flat-out blasted Bush, that would have been fine by me. The problem is she smarmily wanted to have it both ways, pretending her trip was in part a morale-building visit to the troops while she griped about the mission the troops were on.

Posted by John Weidner at November 30, 2003 5:26 PM
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