main: October 2005 Archives
While in Washington recently, I saw a new film called "The War Within." After sitting though any number of movies where members of the audience laugh at inappropriate moments -- especially scenes of cruelty and violence -- it was refreshing to be among film-goers who seemed genuinely sobered and moved by what they were watching.
Why? This is the most powerful depiction I have seen of contemporary terrorism. It's the story of a young Pakistani studying in Paris who becomes a suicide bomber after being arrested by American agents and "rendered" to Pakistan for torture.
Now, my expert informants tell me that very few torture victims become terrorists, which makes sense in a way. But the proximate cause of the young man's decision is less important than the ambivalence he experiences upon arriving in New York and witnessing the life of an old boyhood friend and his family. Their happiness attracts and repels him in equal measure, and his inner conflict is exquisitely portrayed.
Maybe I'll write more about this, but in the meantime, go see this film if it is anywhere near you, because it won't be in the theaters long. It opened in New York, got a tepid and evasive review from the Times, then disappeared. If you know why, please write and tell me.
According to my students, most of whom are compulsive instant-messengers, I am a very bad person, because while neglecting to feed my blog I have also failed to post an "away" message.
Here are two links that may help to explain, if not justify, recent neglect. One is an article in the Washington Post about the role of popular culture, including the movies, in shaping America's image abroad. The other is an online discussion that I did for the Post the next day.
More catch-up soon...