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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Ghost Writer

Last night my husband and I went to see Roman Polanski's last opus, "The Ghost Writer".
I am not a big Polanski fan, because I'm squeamish, and outside of Hitchcock films, I don't like having my nerves played on for two hours.
But this film is a MUST SEE, in my book.
I heard (this may not be true...) that it was AFTER Polanski finished this film that the Californian judge resurrected his dossier, with the consequences that most of us know.
Polanski is now under the equivalent of house arrest in Switzerland ; who knows whether he will be extradited or not...
I am not going into the issues surrounding the person of Roman Polanski here.

The film adroitly weaves together an intrigue involving a thinly disguised Tony Blair, who has summoned a nobody ghost writer to continue work on his autobiography, after the initial ghost has met with an unfortunate "accident". While the entire film is a fiction, its context is an historical one. A film/ovni a bit like "The Queen", which I already reviewed here, in an exposé about constitutional/divine right monarchy.
In the course of his assignment, the new "ghost" uncovers troubling facts about his predecessor's death, and is caught up in the political scandal that erupts when the former Prime Minister is accused of authorizing rendition and torture, and comes up for investigation by the International Criminal Court. Our "ghost", secluded in a high security compound on Cape Cod, finds himself inextricably entwined in the passions of his hosts during a political and personal crisis.

What is really remarkable about this film is that AT NO POINT IN TIME does ANY CHARACTER become caricature.
The people who do what they do BELIEVE IN what they are doing/did. Adam Lang, accused of authorizing torture, has an EXCELLENT justification for doing what he did, authorizing torture. He is NOT a monster, not an idiot. He is a.. MAN. With his weaknesses, and his strong points.
These people are not cynically going through the motions, the way we are tempted to believe.
The people who contest him, the bloodthirsty crowd waiting outside his compound to accuse him of being a monster... contains one man who has lost his son in the Irak war.
Another man who is NOT a monster. Who.. believes in what he is doing. Who believes that he is RIGHT to be doing what he does. Bringing Lang to "justice"...
No more/no less, fanatic than some.. terrorists who also believe in what they are doing.
And THIS "fanatic" is supporting the International Criminal Court... Like the bloodthirsty crowd calling for Lang to be judged.
The U.S./U.K. governments do not come out of this film smelling like a rose, and you will see the extent of the totalitarian folly that is omnipresent in the continual obsession about security, and the high tech explosion that accompanies it.
Oddly enough, money takes a firm SECOND place here next to belief as the reason that "explains" WHY we do what we do on this earth... Polanski is an.. idealist. Me too.

This film is NOT diversion/entertainment.
But it is not "glauque" either, as we say in French. There is nothing depressing about it, even if the end is NOT Walt Disney.
It is a meat and potatoes film. Like... Desert Flower.


Debra said...

One of the major casualties of September 11 was the film "The Quiet American", based on Graham Green's book of the same name.
This casualty was very unfortunate in my book, as Americans need to see this film which is also NOT a caricature. To see to understand the full scope of what the American government has been doing abroad IN OUR NAME for quite some time now.

Thai said...

If your message is the same as the last psychiatrist e.g. get out of your narcissism, then we agree as this is clearly a necessary element for cooperation.

Now will we get there?

"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

-- Yogi Berra

Time will tell

PS- the flick sounds great. I will check it out.

Dr John said...

I have seen the house he is being arrested in. I wish someone would place me on arrest there.

Debra said...

You know what we call it here, Doctor John ?
A "prison dorée". A golden cage.
Imagine for a minute... not being able to stick your foot outside your door to go for a little walk, to hear the birds sing, to see the spring arrive ?
My turn to gripe, Doctor John...
I think that you are mistaking what filthy lucre can buy for... FREEDOM.
If there is anybody who knows what freedom means, I bet it is Roman Polanski. Logical. What you DON'T have, is what you KNOW and APPRECIATE best. That's human nature for you...
I wouldn't live in his golden cage for ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD.
Even if he has golden spigots in his bathtub.
How does the saying go "what profiteth it a man to own the whole world if he loses his soul ?"
Yep. That's wisdom.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits

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