Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Friday, January 13, 2006

"Re-viewing the Russian Movies"

"I had seen most of these movies at one time or another, but none of them for at least fifteen years, and I went this time looking very consciously for the pathos and irony of that enormous historical failure which now weighs so dangerously on us all. Irony, God knows, was easy enough to find; every glimpse of the enthusiasms of that revolution brings forth all at once the whole wearisome joke of human aspiration and wickedness -- we shall be having it dinned into our ears, in just this form, until we die. There was more irony than the most avid of paradox-mongers could possibly want. Only to see the word 'comrades' or the word 'workers' in a subtitle was enough. Before I was through I could no longer even understand why our age insists on finding the idea of irony so attractive. I would have given up all ironies, and the sense of tragedy and the sense of history along with them, just to have stupid, handsome Nicholas grinding his heel once more into the face of unhappy Russia.

Pathos was another matter. For pathos there must be victims, and in five of these six movies the glare of triumphant righteousness is so blinding that one can't see any victims at all, only a few martyrs of the working class, their lives well expended, and a few bourgeois or monarchist anachronisms, swept properly into the dustbin of history. No death is without meaning; even that baby hurtling in its carriage down the Odessa steps in Potemkin is part of the great plan, and the spectacle is exciting but not saddening. Of course it could be said that Eisenstein and Pudovkin and Dovzhenko were the real victims, ultimately betrayed by the revolution they celebrated; but that idea, if it is important at all, becomes important only on reflection. It is hard to feel the pathos of their lives when you see them playing with corpses; if they had got the chance, they would have made a handsome montage of my corpse too, and given it a meaning -- their meaning and not mine."

-- Robert Warshow, "Re-viewing the Russian Movies," in The Immediate Experience


Blogger stewdog said...

Bread, Peace, Land!

January 13, 2006 2:18 PM  

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