Are We Civilized? (1934)

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Are We Civilized? (1934) Poster

Paul is a European. He served in the army in the Great War. He emigrated to the USA. One day he returns to Europe and talks of freedom and liberty. The authorities (Nazi, but unnamed) come ... See full summary »


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11 August 2018 | AlsExGal
| A curio about fascism that is a bit of a mess
This is a curio about a country (read Germany) where the press is being censored, books are being burned, people are incited to violence ... well, you know where this is going .

Silent film star William Farnum plays the owner of a newspaper in a foreign country, although everyone speaks perfect English there. Farnum's son is to be married to Anita Louise, who just happens to be the daughter of some fascist (Frank McGlynn, who often played Abraham Lincoln in films and on stage). After about twenty minutes of some plot, the remainder of this 70-minute propaganda film involves Farnum giving us a crash course in history. He starts with the creation of the world, and we get to see dinosaurs and cavemen. Then it's on to Egypt and Moses, then Buddha, then Confucius, then Caesar, then Christ, then Muhammad (who looks like an aged Carnac the Magnificent), then Columbus, George Washington, Napoleon, and Lincoln (McGlynn does double duty here). Interspersed with this lecture are scenes of books being burned and Farnum's son getting clocked by a mob. But Farnum plows on, through World War I and the threat of World War II. Will his words have any affect?

The film is so-so, and so is the print on youtube. Farnum, who was once the highest paid actor in film, gives it a good shot, although he is a bit over the top when he describes the stock market crash - probably because in real life, he lost his shirt at the time. However, the movie may have some interest to film buffs. Many of the historical scenes appear to be taken from silent films, and one has to wonder what these films were, and if they still exist. If they don't, this may be the only bits of them left.

In the journal Harrison's Reports in 1934, the film was described as "suitable for children, adolescents, and Sundays."

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