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by jbcurio

 

http://catalog.juilliard.edu/content.php?catoid=13&navoid=1387

The Juilliard   School in NY is highly revered and its deserves it. I   personally   always   respected   it,   tried to know more   about it and   always considered it a shining beacon in the otherwise rather   bleak landscape of   American Arts.    Juilliard   traditions, its legacy, its message   were and are exemplary and   if there is   something all the world knows about, American to the core and   great at the same time- that's this School of Arts.

I don't know about other people but when I hear "the Juilliard graduate' I feel   good about that   person even before   I see the performance.   That is I felt that way until Zero Dark Thirty.   Jessica Chastain   is a Juilliard   graduate and she    played the CIA queen bee.

In all fairness,   propaganda movies are nothing new. In fact, most of the movies are   propaganda movies, even lyrical   comedies. I do not associate the negative connotation with the word: cinema was invented   as the mass --oriented art and as such   it targets   groups of people, not individuals.   What   you expect from the book- deep thinking,   rich characters,   psychology, individual feedback- all of that should    not be expected from the "sentimental   fever' as Ossip Mandelshtam had   defined   the cinema.   It is not even   a theater whose sole purpose is   to concentrate   the   emotions   flying in the air and dump them all on pitch and toss inside of   the constrained   space of the scene. Cinema is   for everyone and as such   promotes anything; its secret is in the availability of    a menu-   everyone enters the theater   and picks his/her   meal.

So before Zero Dark Thirty was, for instance   "The British Agent' (   if I remember correctly) -- the 1920s   movie loosely based   on the    "Memoirs   Of The British Agent'   by Robert Bruce Lockhart, the former   member of the British mission in Russia during the Revolution.   The movie had not much to do with real events but it   featured    a brilliant cast, a perfect protagonist woman- heroine,   a lover and a spy   played   by Key Francis; it featured    the portraying of then famous Russian leaders like Dzerzhinsky, the   Leader of Cheka, the   Political Police, also others.   The movie was full of   cheap   and low-level cliches; the Brit, of course, was noble and   irresistible,   a   predecessor of James   Bond when it comes to women (in real life British men are considered   the   least attractive,   being in front of maybe, Finns- MS J ).   Of course, the Russian spy-woman adores him and divulges all the secrets and   he prevails against all odds.   The reality was not that glamorous; the plot which Lockhart financed was   discovered by a   sting operation; he was arrested and   deported and although there was a Russian woman, he left her   alone in Russia. She eventually became a double agent for   the Russian   Foreign   Spy System and in that capacity   went abroad and   resided in London until her death in 1960s.   But that was not reflected in that rather successful movie; critics were very favorable about the   actors and their performance.

Critics were very favorable about the actors   in Zero Dark Thirty too.   The story is still a story and   it is quite legit;   there   was   an internationally renowned terrorist, he had to be eliminated; that's how it was done. It was a fascinating   story,   ready for making a movie and a movie was   made. The cast was great, the territory was well- known and as for a woman   CIA- operative- even that was not that new; before Maya there was Pamela Landy from the   "Bourne' series.   What's the fuss, really? Enjoy the show and pay for the popcorn.

Russian   literary historian Sherba   defined art as a "Deliberate and    calculated deviation form the norm.'   The norm thus is to be defined, the reference   point   identified beforehand. Every form of art   confronts this problem and   although   it   is up to an individual   to apparently choose the reference point and the direction   on where to   deviate, the   history of art forms gives   some guidance.   And one of those   guiding principles is   formulated   by   Alexander Pushkin (I am sorry for using only Russian sources but    it   is easier for me: I am sure there is a plenty of Western sources too- MS):

-           Genius   and   Malice are incompatible.

Absence of   malice is a paramount principle   of any art form;   this principle distinguishes    real art from   the imitation.   Every product, every picture, every photo and every painting are to be first and foremost evaluated from that standpoint: yes, as an artist you have a right to deviate but, as it   again is said in Russian song;

-           Let your intentions be pure.

If we look   at those two movies   separated by nearly 100 years   from this   point of view we can see   the striking differences.

The movie from the 1920s   used the whole detective story as a framework: it was a 20th- Century   Scarlet Pimpernel    adventure   shtick.   It was harmless and funny; love story prevailed   as a driving force and   (what was especially important) -   the characters were   slightly grotesque, which took away the blood and made it a cranberry. The strategy was perfect, the artsy form was of   showing the   eternal scheme of love during   the epoch event   was done with an utmost care; all of that resulted in a fairy --tale as cinema was and is supposed to be, No malice here whatsoever; the    subjective portraying of the Russian leaders was   very craftily   compensated by the   whole   rather unrealistic atmosphere; we like it and smile.

No smile on Zero Dark Thirty.   The message is clear-   the   relentless pursuit,   the hunt at al all costs and with   all measures   brings results. The   events are recent, they are ours, we cannot disconnect. Here   we have that red- headed bulldog and she delivers us the head on the plate, take it or leave it. How about them apples?   Does popcorn   still taste good when you see torture?   Do you imagine yourself   in bed with that redhead   even in your wildest dreams?   Do   you even like what you see? It is   in   your face and that's how the cookie crumbles. Not a funny stuff.   That's how the work is done.

Tough luck though. Art   imitates life?   The challenge is to dare us all to acknowledge the message?   That's the   abovementioned deviation from the norm?   We are supposed to appreciate the    effort described; the story   is plausible, right?

Not a chance.   This    is not a Stalin's Russia where   in the cheap propaganda movies   the eye-popping, guns- blazing   true communist women would roam around    "sniffing out the enemies of the state' through their dedication and loyalty (BTW, even those movies did not feature tortures- MS). There   the spectators   had only one source of information. Not now. Now we know   the   contradiction. We know   that   until now we do not know who   actually did   the 9/11. We know   that Al- Qaeda   is by far   if not a myth entirely, is an invented organization. We know, the whole world knows that   it is not really   known well   what was the role of Osama Bin Laden, and especially- who and why was killed on that fateful night. We know   through   Ray McGovern that CIA is by far not an organization   dedicated to our interests anymore. We know that Iraq war plans preceded   the 9/11, not the way around.   We know that tortures were and are barbaric, illegal and useless to say the least.   It is all an open information and although   it can be ignored in MSM   (Sic!) -- IT CANNOT BE IGNORED IN THE ART FORM.

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The writer is 57 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.


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I never watch movies any more. I quit.   '... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:46:04 AM
I've never heard of Juillard School - which probab... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 at 1:35:30 PM