Why We Fight. An extra credit assignment.

Frank Capra, Why We Fight.

In 1942, Frank Capra presented to the people of America, a seven part documentary propaganda about the need to fight the rising evil that is Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperialist Japan. His film shows what would happen if we stood by and let this axis of evil get their way and take over the world. This movie is shown in black and white, which is a perfect way to present the threat, a world in black and white.

In the white world, we face a choice a freedom, a place where tyranny loses to good ideals. A world where there are no dictators and the oppressed are free.  A place where the allies will stand up against all aggressors and stop the flow of hatred crossing sovereign borders. A place where children can grow up in a free world and experience freedom, with a small price of being aware that anytime, evil can strike. Its philosophy is always be prepared to defend yourself by joining your local civil service station.

But in the dark world, its a totally different story. This is a place you don’t want to be in. This is a world where evil dictators have taken over the world. A world that has been divided up into three parts. Germany, Italy and Japan control large swaths of land and also control the minds of millions to serve the dictators needs. A world where any difference of opinions will be dealt with severe punishment. A world where only the birds are free. And that is debatable.

Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight” documentary was meant not only to scare the American people into seeing the world in his eyes, but to counter the propaganda the was coming out the axis nations. Film making was used primarily to tell a story, including the world through the eyes of the director. For example D. W. Griffiths Birth of a Nation, despite of its technical brilliance of its time, was nothing more than a propaganda film for the KKK. What the axis nations did was take it to another level. They were justifying their need for genocide and Frank Capra saw this.

Some modern filmmakers also saw the need from this cold and bleak imagery and used this opportunity to get their message across in their films as well. One example is George Lucas and his Star Wars films. When we see the images of Nazi Soldiers lining up to listen to Adolf Hilter speak, fear sets in as we witness thousands of troops standing in unison as if it was one giant enemy, getting ready to invade any country at any time and we can’t do anything about it.

George Lucas wanted to recreate the same feeling of fear we get when we see those images of the Empire and its stormtroopers with Darth Vader leading the pack, the way we see Nazis in their propaganda. Right down to the black and grey colors with and occasional red, just like the Nazi uniforms and the red in its swastika.

 

On the other hand we have Paul Verhoeven’s vision of how propaganda can be used to push forward a military fascist vision that is American in origin to justify its push for intergalactic supremacy in which humans try to control the galaxy against these giant intelligent insects. This is a world where the only path to citizenship is through serving in the military. Things take a turn for the worst after Buenos Aries is decimated by an asteriod that sent toward Earth by the insects. Paul cleverly borrows certain aspects of Frank Capra’s propaganda and twists it so by flipping the message on its head.

Starship Troopers Propaganda reel.

The enemy are bugs which many people have a natural fear of, so the disconnect of the audience of the violence of the film is magnified because we are not at war with other humans. Thus the propaganda is more effective into convincing the audience to look the other way from the fact that the society they live is a military fascist dictatorship. Also Paul was trying to warn us how easily fear can negate the need for personal freedom and allow a dictatorship form as long as there is an enemy that will always try to kill us. Just like what is happening today with after 9/11 with the passage of the Patriot Act and the militarization of the local police.

In conclusion, we can see the effects the propaganda can have on a society that is already under control in a fascist state. It is useful in countries like China and North Korea, convincing people to give their quest for rights for the purpose of a nation. This also worked for awhile in Arab nations, before the populations started to wisen up and fight against their suppressors.  Unfortunate this might work in a country like the USA to convince the people hat giving up some of your rights might also be a good thing for your safety. Hopefully it’s not too late to wake up from this nightmare.

I’m Doing My Part!

The End

 

 

 

 

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I want you to see the world as I see it through my male gaze.

Its no secret that Hollywood is dominated by the male gender. Its also no secret the the female gender is fifty percent of the movie going audience. Woman have been unfairly misrepresented in most aspects of life, while the male gatekeepers have been dictating what they seem is the view of the world since the beginning of time. From the Bible to Transformers movies, the male point of view dominates all aspects of opinions by trying to persuade others in their patriarchal view of life. Men are strong, women are weak. And if you disagree, you are a feminazi socialist.

If there was a director that represents the male gaze better than anyone else, it would be Alfred Hitchcock. His fascination of voyeurism in his films like Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho, has captivated his audiences, giving everyone a peek into his perverted misogynistic mind, a great example would be the movie Psycho, and from the beginning of the movie the female lead is doomed. Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, is one of many female character leads in Hitchcock movies who either is a thief or a liar, in which it is the duty of the male protagonist must try to save, sometimes through an intervention of some sort including rape, ex: Frenzy, Suspicion.

Psycho is a perfect example of the male gaze gone awry. One cannot comment on the classic without bringing up “the peek through the peephole before Marion getting into the shower” scene, but the scene that interests me the most is when Marion tries to trade in her car for another one to allude a policeman that is following her.

Here we see Marion driving away from the police officer that woke her up in her car after see was driving away from her town after stealing $40,000 from her boss. She was behaving suspiciously when she was being questioned for pulling over to the side and taking a nap. Her face in the frame has guilt written all over it. This makes the audience assume that women cannot keep a secret. Then she pulls into a used car lot unbeknownst that the same police officer has u-turned his vehicle across the street, gets out of the car and stands outside his door to observe Marion talking to the dealer. The male gaze from a distance.

Unaware the shes being observed, Marion and the car dealer discuss the terms of the trade in and when told of the terms, she doesn’t even try to negotiate and wants the deal to go through as soon as possible. This of course even surprises the dealer and makes her look like a terrible negotiator and thus making her more suspicious.

Marion and the dealer both realize that the policeman is across the street and Marion wants to make this happen soon. The dealer suggests that she test drives the car first and Marion refuses on the basis that she is in a rush to reach her destination. We then follow her into the bathroom, where she pulls out $700 dollars cash out her purse and goes outside to pay for the car. While this is happening, the police officer pulls into the dealership and while he gets out, she pays the dealer and rushes to the car. Before she can pull out, a mechanic runs out to give her bags that left in her previous vehicle and puts it in her car. As the police officer approaches the car, she drives away.

The view from above gives the audience the perspective that we are a fly on the wall watching her without her suspecting.

One could argue that if you replaced Marion with a male character, there wouldn’t be an argument on the male gaze philosophy.While that may be true, its the fact that many of the female lead characters in Hitchcock’s movies are portrayed with troubled, broken, and inept personalities that must be kept in check by the male protagonists. Its also clear in this particular that Marion must not only be kept in check by a man but a police officer as well. And whats worse is that it took a sociopathic transvestite to “teach her a lesson” in the shower scene which left many wondering if they should have been more sympathetic to her in the first place. While that scene is particularly brutal, one might argue that is Marion was a good submissive woman, the audience reaction might have been different.

In conclusion, I believe in some way that Laura Mulvey’s argument about the fear that men feel threatened of being symbolically castrated by strong female characters in movies. This can be seen in everything from movies to videogames, but I also believe the tide is slowly turning as they slowly start to lose grip of their power of opinion making.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Upcoming Alien Invasion.

According to some witnesses, a spacecraft had crashed landed near the town of Roswell NM in June 1947. Besides the wreckage that was scattered through the desert, there were also bodies of the occupants that resembled small children with one found alive kneeling near one of the dead bodies. Major Jesse Marcel was one the first people on the scene and described the material as being otherworldly. A metal like material that was like really thin aluminum foil that when crumpled, it would return back to its original form. a material so tough that nothing could penetrate it.

At first the local military released a statement that it had recovered a flying disc, but when Washington got wind of it, it had changed its story and said that it was really a weather balloon. UFO sightings have been recorded since the beginning of time but after the Roswell incident, Hollywood sought to capitalize on the idea that visitors are coming to visit our planet or possibly planning to invade as well. At the same time, the was a real fear of the Soviets launching an attack on the United States with nuclear weapons. Interestingly UFO sightings increased in frequency after the first atom bomb was tested near the site of the crash, as if the visitors were fascinated that the humans have learned to split the atom, passing a milestone in human evolution.

Some have argued that alien movies released after the Roswell Incident are a litmus test for the government to see what the publics reaction would be if the truth came out. Other argue that the subtext of these movie are really the fear of the Red Menace and how to subvert the public into heeding the governments warning on communism. There is way too much information out there to even begin to post both sides of the argument. But if you really want to find out for yourself how deep the rabbit hole goes, then take a look at this interview with one of Americas first and most respected astronauts Gordon Cooper and by all means dive right in.

The truth is really out there. If you dare to look.

Gordon Cooper Interview

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Mr Kane learns to hate himself.

With all the money in the world and every possession that can be bought that is now his, Charles Foster Kane could not buy back his childhood. Oddly enough, his life sort of parallels the late Micheal Jackson in a sense that both their childhoods were snatched away by their parents. Buts thats where the similarities end. The scene I chose for this assignment is when Charles Kane ( MS) enters the bedroom of his wife who just left, leaving Mr Kane to see his reflection on the mirror. He is old, balding, and haggard. A far cry from the younger, more powerful idealist Kane in the beginning of the film. He is crying and slowly turns around. Then we see a low angle shot of him turning around and walking towards the bed. We also notice the room is almost like a child’s room, with stencils of animals decorate the wall and ceiling. The gives us a sense of helplessness as if we were looking through the eyes of a child but still reminded that the most powerful figure is still in the room, Mr Kane. The camera then follows him (MS) to the bed while panning and keeping  a safe distance. Then the camera cuts (MS) to him picking the suitcase in frustration and throwing it across the room. Kane then takes the other suitcase and tosses as well stripping the sheets off the canopy bed. The view is still low angle, follows Kane as he sets his eyes toward the small table in the room. He pushes over the dresser and flips chairs over as if it was a drunken rage.

The next cut we see Kane moving towards some shelving and we watch tear the off the wall, the it cuts to the book shelf and Kane tears through it like Godzilla in down town Tokyo. the camera pans to the right as Kane drags the lamp and destroys the same mirror he was looking along with the tchotchke’s that decorated that wall. Kane walks around the room knocking things down and destroying things like a tornado and walks toward the camera and stops only seeing his legs and a snow globe on a shelf knee level with Kane. We see his hand go down a grab it. He then walks away while with his back towards the camera to the other side of the room stops turns to his side and stairs at the snow globe.

Now its cuts to a close up of his chest and hands, we see the globe more clearly. Its a reminder of his past, a childhood gone forever but still etched in glass, plastic and water. The camera pans up and we see his tear swollen eyes and he says “Rosebud” . Camera cut to a wide shot of Kane’s staff peering into the destroyed bedroom keeping a distance from the entrance while the supervisor walks toward the entrance. It now becomes a close up of the man. Cut to a close up of Kane’s face and the camera pulls back from a close up to a wide shot as he leaves the room and passed his employees to the large expanse of his mansion. Then it cuts to a long shot of him walking away from his employees ans follows him in front of a large mirror where you see a reflection of him plus infinity.

This scene shows the rather small and cluttered room of his wife who like him, collected thing to make her forget what a failure she is. Kane destroying the room was really him destroying who he was and was reminded of a simpler life when he found the snow globe. After the ruckus was over, he then entered the the giant empty hallway that represented what his life has become, a giant empty room. And the fact that he didn’t look at the mirror when walking past it, represented his acceptance of who he is.

For your viewing pleasure.

Citizen Kane Rose Bud Powerful Scene in the Classic Film-[www.flvto.com]

 

 

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The meaning of life in Black and White.

Orson Welles ” Citizen Kane” is an awesome movie in all respects. And usually opinions are not facts, they are just opinions of course, but in the case of Citizen Kane, this might be a fact. This movie is a is a 24 FPS piece of art and according to most movie critics, the best film ever made. But to most movie buffs, the reason is not mostly because of the story, but the actual film making techniques is what makes it a masterpiece. Orson Welles directed, starred and co wrote his first movie is part of what makes it impressive. Each scene is carefully assembled and edited by Welles down to the staging of the actors, giving each a message by forcing the audience to see the point of view of the director.

I have chosen one scene for my analysis and that is the scene where Charles Kanes mother gives him up to be sent to the east coast to be educated.

Three subject shot with deep focus.

Orson Welles starts the scene off with a younger Charles outside playing in the snow with his sled Rosebud unaware that his parents are going to give him up. This represents one of the few times the character is happy. As the camera pulls back, we then see the parents and the caretaker inside the house. Charles is at the center at first but as they enter the house, the mother takes center stage to signify the important character in the scene, like the staging of a play. This forces the audience to focus on her because this moment is pivotal to Charles life. The father is also mostly in the background and the left to represent how helpless and also how unimportant he is in Charles life. There is a moment where the caretaker is center stage and this represents the person who is now in charge of Charles life, but at the end of the scene, Charles resumes center stage in the background reminding us who the main subject is and also how he is helpless in determining his own fate, like his father.

 

 

 

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Gangster worship, the pursuit of the American Dream for the rest of us.

I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of gangster movies. I never thought that people should idolize criminals on the big screen, small screen, etc. Growing up in the South Bronx, I have personally witnessed countless of murders by the same people who’s dream is to make it to the big. Gangsters to me are people who make it big by cheating the system, not by working hard to break free the grips the status quo and in return, society can benefit from their contributions. In other words, we need more scientists teachers and leaders, rather than another drug lord who makes a living off the poors misery and pain. On the other hand, I too despise the corruption of the police and the powers to be for they too are the bane of a democratic society even more so than gangster worship. I’ve also dealt with racist cops who abuse their power so I understand the reason for this gangster worship. Or the corrupt politicians who commit crimes much worse than druglords by lying to the people who put them in power. At least you know what to expect from criminals. But when people idolize gangsters like a modern day Jesus, is a testament of how bad and fractured our society has become. at least the gangsters die in the end of these movies.

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