June 11, 2012 by Richard Falk
It was only a few years ago that Europe was being praised as the savior of world order, and heralded as the hope for the future of world order. Books with such titles as “The European Superpower” and “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century” were widely read. They celebrated the realities of a European post-colonial recovery, even a new type of ascendancy, results that were welcomed by many who hoped for a more peaceful and equitable world.
June 11, 2012 by Claire McCurdy
In the 21st century, war movies are intensely popular, even if it’s warfare on the industrial level. We’ve become accustomed to movies that follow a formula, regardless of whether they’re supposed to be realistic or have taken a page out of a comic book. The Rambo genre, for example, is marked by made for action figure hulks, gigantic figures whose testosterone is enhanced with steroids and whose martial arts skills are both manual and hi-tech. The one man army exhibiting the technological capacity for creating as much devastation as an entire platoon could have done in Vietnam.
The heroes’ violence and cruelty and their absolute commitment to eradication of the opposing nation, race, or species are directed straight to the fan base – given the fact that their fan base tends to be pre-teen and teenage boys, it’s a perfect circle of adolescent madness in adult bodies. War movies from the earlier part of the 20th century are from a gentler or subtler time. In Grand Illusion (La grande illusion), directed by Jean Renoir, widely recognized as a masterpiece of French cinema, revolves around a person’s character- a striking moment- sounds and sights, which are unique and stunning. Images that linger long in the memory.
There is a minimum of violence on screen- even the torture scenes, important to the story, are muted. It is implicit rather than explicit. Even the iconic character who embodies what later became a Nazi prototype – the aviator and aristocrat Kommandant von Rauffenstein, played by Erich von Stroheim, displays his own version of grace and elegance and even compassion, alternating with the barks of violent power.