Sunday, December 17, 2017

The end of irony

Yes, it's a "most people" lede, but bear with our Tribune columnist here -- he has a Point!

The two questions most people ask about a new movie are: Do I really want to see it? And, is it worth the price?

“Darkest Hour,” the film starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, is definitely worth seeing now, not later. It is worth the price.

And it is required.

Because in a West under siege, in a West — particularly the European West — that often seems lost and almost eager to capitulate to a diminished future, “Darkest Hour” isn’t merely a good film.

I didn't know you spelled "sharia" with a D, but nevertheless:

It is a necessary film.

It reminds us that heroes don’t require magic swords, superpowers, spandex costumes or comic-book inspiration.

Heroes can be quite human, even dumpy and old and fat, egotistic and self-indulgent.

... What is required is an iron will, an epic stubbornness, a refusal to listen to reasonable voices that would reasonably help bend the knee. 

And we all know where that comes from, right? 

In “Darkest Hour,” and in the other films about Churchill that I’ve seen, there is a hint about where the iron will comes from: the expectations of the British aristocracy on the young; the severe schools, the punishments, the obligations placed on the ruling class to serve the empire.

In America, we infantilize our young, and some remain boys and girls until middle age, and we make heroes of athletes and actors and entertainers. But not in the England of that time.

For the aristocracy, the will was also molded by the kind of literature that helped shape the empire, which, along with the British Navy and its guns, reinforced Great Britain’s place, ruling the seas.

It was the literature that reinforced all this in the minds of its ruling class, that they were the conservators of the West. And Churchill was a most literate man.

Well, that and the oratory, I suppose.

... But we have seen other fine orators, most recently, orators silky and smooth and beloved by modern mythmakers. 

Nor did I know you spelled "bungling Kenyan commie" with an S! But anyway:

And as the oratory fades, the blood and chaos of Libya and Syria overwhelm much of Europe.

What makes Churchill fascinating isn’t the oratory.

He refused to bend his knee. He refused to listen to the voices of reason that told him appeasement with Germany was the prudent course to save his people.

Has a question been bothering you here -- for example, where does the Land of
the Free stand in all this?

And with his army trapped at Dunkirk, with the United States avoiding the war, with the United Kingdom exhausted, those voices of reason became even more reasonable, powerful, and insistent.

Well, not quite all of the United States was avoiding the war. Official US involvement was still a ways away, and one of the loudest voices in favor of staying out was ... let's not always see the same hands here. Right, the Chicago Tribune -- which didn't just dislike war, FDR and Europe but seemed to hold a pretty low opinion of the prime minister himself. 

... Lord Macaulay isn’t Churchill’s alone. Macaulay greets me every morning at the Tribune tower, as one of his quotes is carved into stone above a door.

“Where there is a free press, the governors must live in constant awe of the opinions of the governed.” 

It was nice of Col. McCormick to tell the British he'd fight to save them, but that opinion doesn't seem to have trickled down to his cartoonists.*

Do yourself a favor.

See “Darkest Hour.”

You might think it necessary, too.

"Necessary" might be a stretch. I mean, it's not like the nation is afflicted by a powerful right-wing media empire serving the needs of a pack of deranged isolationists bent on destroying our reputation as an international force for good or anything.

* These are all from Carey Orr, November 1941; the Trib had quite a stable of cartoonists, but Orr seems to have gotten the 1A spot most frequently this month. The heds are also from November front pages.

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