[Marxism] Fwd: [Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist] Comment: "Reading Trotsky While Watching Kurosawa"
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 29 13:50:04 MST 2014
A comment from Richard Estes:
I believe that there is something inherently socialist, inherently
Marxist in any cultural creation that induces us to relate to people in
their surroundings, their joys, their sorrows, their difficulties and
tragedies without sentimentality. This is a precondition to
understanding the experiences of people in the world around us so as to
contemplate how to radically transform it.
Fassbinder acknowledged that there was a pessimism that ran through many
of his films, but expressed the hope that they would encourage people to
imagine better alternatives, alternatives that they might realize some
day. For this, and his brilliance as a director, scriptwriter and
cinematographer, he has always been my personal favorite. Very few have
presented the paradoxical allure and abuses of capitalist society as
skillfully as he did.
Among Japanese directors, there are also Kobayashi and Oshima.
Kobayashi's "Hara-Kiri" is one of most compelling samurai social
tendency films ever made. The father-in-law's revenge upon the clan for
the death of his son-in-law provides great satisfaction for the
audience, while it is simultaneously shown to be incapable of
threatening the social order itself. As with Fassbinder, the audience
must ultimately contemplate an alternative to the cycle of retributive
violence. Oshima's films, such as "Violence at Noon", "Death by
Hanging", "Boy" and "The Ceremony", among others, reveal the extent to
which the repressive Japanese social order was able to easily integrate
post-war capitalism. Again, rebellions are shown to be personal and
More recently, Louis has rightfully praised the cycle of samurai films
made by Yoji Yamada ("The Twilight Samurai", "The Hidden Blade" and
"Love and Honor"). Seeming melodramatic 19th Century samurai films with
a dollop of shomengeki family life, they highlight how people are driven
to scale the heights of heaven, to paraphrase an old revolutionary
saying, because of their most intimate familial relationships. While the
films emphasize how the emotional attachments of the family undermined
Japanese feudal society, they also suggest how they might also result in
challenges to capitalism, too.
Many of John Sayles' films have these features, too, which is why he is
one of the great American directors of the last 40 years.
There are also some popular entertainments that challenge the post-9/11
authoritarian attitude. While it can be admittedly manipulative in
post-modern, game playing kind of way (it has been rightfully observed
that you have watch a lot of episodes twice to understand them), "Doctor
Who", the BBC series has broadcast a number of episodes that implicitly
indict the notion of mass violence and collective punishment, genocide
is a recurrent theme, serving as the centerpiece of the 50th anniversary
broadcast. Violence is more generally treated ambivalently as something
that has serious consequences for those who rely upon it. A usually
non-violent, propaganda by the deed type, the Doctor periodically
confronts that most anarchist/Trotskyite of problems, the accumulation
of power and the exercise of it. Cultural studies concepts of the
commodification of life and even the afterlife are commonly interwoven
into the story lines.
Surely, if Rosa Luxemborg can have a revolution where she can dance, I
can have one where I can watch "Love and Honor" and "Doctor Who".
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