The racist treatment of black South Africans in the opening of this 1989 film was appalling, notwithstanding its ostensible early 20th Century setting. Yes, that racism was also true to Christie's earlier 1939 title for her story, but her tale was never so overtly racist as the opening of this film.
Terrifying but angled vision of illegal immigration
These six interconnected narratives address the barriers faced by migrants trying to enter the US from Mexico and the efforts of ICE to thwart them. This documentary does not address the larger number of migrants illegally entering the US via airports with tourist visas with no intention of ever returning home. It does not fully address the profits made by US businesses in hiring such migrants in other areas besides agriculture and construction or the abuse of legal guest workers. The film glosses over the effects of economic migration on localities, hospitals, schools, cultural habitudes, linguistic identity, legal migrants, and established minority communities. These factors radically change perspectives on illegal immigration.
In reviewing this movie twenty years later and considering all that has happened since then, I see fantasies of violence, messianic madness, deep state paranoia, cults of video game atrocities, and food for terrorism, all in the name of righteousness. I see a lust for violence. And I see the souls of loner terrorists shooting up Walmarts and marketplaces.
We are what we watch, just as we are what we eat. Some get diabetes from too much sugar. Some get cancer from tobacco. Some die from various addictions. Others poison their souls and their relationships with others by feeding the worst of our selves with toxins while starving the best of our souls. Peace, selfless love, compassion for strangers. Nourish these seeds instead of weeds.
This extraordinary movie about a terrorist, the Police, and an innocent woman takes place on Shrove Monday (RosenMontag) where German Catholic tradition has it that sins that day/night are automatically forgiven. Sometimes, though, letting go can have the most tragic consequences for the innocent and their basic human vulnerability.
Civil War makes criminals out of neighbors and murderers out of soldiers. These are well known truths: painfully familiar lessons from the recent Balkan civil wars and now horribly visible in the Iraqi slaughter of Sunni and Shia. But there are always a few rare souls who will seek the same justice for all, whatever their own tragic hardships, whatever the added burden such moral commitment may bring. This remarkable war movie about the recent Serbo- Croatian War explores two such persons, living in a world of utter moral chaos. What is so special about them? Can we fathom their motivations?
When so many act out of greed, vengeance, ethnic hatred, it is hard to explain why a few refuse to do so. If we are all witnesses to atrocities in such situations, we are also all implicated in them. But how can persons who are caught up in the unmitigated horrors of a brutal, bloody civil war find the moral resources to resist such degradation, whatever the consequences to themselves?
This is the most morally exquisite of Chabrol's many explorations of the human condition. Guilt, forgiveness, revenge coexist and mutually triumph. Many of us assume these three moral stances are mutually incompatible. Chabrol balances them against each other and then fuses them together. The actors reveal their inner dilemmas with gestures more than words. Deep intentions run across surface motives. And the final gesture of this compelling film casts all that went before into another, deeper level. Of course, no deed is as simple as it seems. But few appreciate as Chabrol does here that our all too common morally mixed motives can continue to coexist to the grave. No evil deed is ever straightforward, but neither are the best ones.
Had Chabrol filmed this in the style of Bergman, this film would be a Criterion Classic. But filmed as a thriller, it has sadly failed to gain the audience and admiration it so richly deserves. It is a philosophical triumph!