WHAT'S UP WITH THAT EGO, WARREN BEATTY? YOU ARE WORSE THAN ERIC CLAPTON! CARLY SIMON WAS RIGHT ABOUT YOU! I BET YOU THINK THIS POST IS ABOUT YOU? DON'T YOU? DON'T YOU?
I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid and I don't remember it making any impression at all on me. I vaguely remember that the trailers and previews were filled with shots of Warren Beatty running around in the street with a machine gun and what looked like a huge street battle going on, so I remember thinking it was going to be a pretty cool movie. But it's really not like that at all.
I made it about 14 minutes into Reds this time.
Most movies which are set in the past have the same central arrogance. They assume everybody on Earth before about ten or fifteen years of when the movie was made were ignorant benighted morons. Superstitious, hateful, savagely prejudiced, intensely misogynistic, warlike, enslaved in meaningless insane social customs and castes, and they didn't bathe enough. And they had bad teeth. It could be various combinations of the foregoing, mix and match as you please, I mean heck that's going to be the whole plot of your movie, how you mix and match those gives you an infinite plot-generating machine. But you need to try to work as many in as possible.
But against this backdrop of benighted morons, you need two main characters, they are indispensible:
1. The main character. Usually a male, usually brainy, often borderline what we would call a nerd.
Where most of the rest of the movie are these backwards savages living in mind-boggling ignorance, the main character is this COMPLETELY modern guy. He isn't just a little ahead of his peers. He doesn't just have a few relevant insights which his peers don't. No, he walks, talks, acts and thinks exactly like somebody from the time the movie was made. He is, in short, the author projected into those older times. The author's fantasy of walking around among much lesser beings, among whom he would shine out blindingly.
If the movie was made during the nineties, the main character could be a New Age guru with a set of beliefs coming straight off the shelves of the New Age section of Borders. A set of beliefs which didn't really exist like that in the past. Like maybe he will talk about being a "shaman warrior" or something, which as a concept is this weird amalgam of Wicca, white people's ideas of what Native American beliefs are, and probably something about crystals thrown in there. And this character might be in say Medieval Europe, where nothing resembling this hodge-podge of beliefs existed.
Or maybe if the movie was made in the fifties or sixties, the main character is deeply interested in the civil rights movement (like say Charlton Heston as Moses, or Kirk Douglas as Spartacus).
If the movie was made during the eighties maybe the main character is just interested in boogying on down.
Or if the movie is in the seventies, the main character is all into free love, and women's lib.
Like in Reds.
2. The main character's apprentice.
Now this is somebody (usually a female, especially if the main character is male) who is NOT QUITE as ignorant and benighted as everybody else in the movie. Who is STRUGGLING TO FLY FREE of the ignorance around her.
But she just won't make it, unless the main character comes along and GUIDES her gently along.
3+: The benighted morons.
The reason this really kills me, is that I have spent a lot of time reading things out of history. Greek drama and philosophy, the Romans and their histories and comedies, the Christians and Gnostics, the Canterbury Tales and the Carmina Burana, the Heike Monogatari, Buddhist Classics, so on and so on. So on into the modern era.
And I don't read it out of a noble desire to educate myself but because I find it genuinely interesting. And I find it interesting specifically because people through history actually think much the same way we do now.
They lived in a very different world than we do, in a lot of ways. But because they do think in a way which I can easily relate to, reading their stories gives me the feeling that I am actually there. And that to me is a great experience, to actually for a moment live in ancient Rome or feudal Europe or Japan or whatever. but it's exactly because I can relate to the people in those times that I can do that. It's exactly because it WASN'T a world of benighted morons. It was a world of people a lot like me.
And because of that, I can journey though time and visit lost alien worlds. And that's pretty cool.
And it figures, right? I mean the human brain hasn't really evolved much in what, ten thousand years? A hundred thousand? So it figures that people through recorded history would be a lot like me, think in a way which I can relate to.
Society has certainly evolved in that time. The world has changed. (For the better, generally, in my opinion, for the most part. But not for all parts.) The situations people face have changed.
But life really hasn't.
So I do kind of hate this modern arrogation [is that a word? like inspecific progenation, I guess] of superiority to the past. This adolescent bored at the bus-station fantasy of walking like a giant in a world of mental dwarves.
But so much the worse when it is Warren Beatty doing it.
HE DOESN'T JUST THINK HE'S SUPERIOR. HE THINKS HE'S THE MOST SUPERIOR MAN IN THE WORLD.
I mean yeah I'd suck his dick, but that's not the point.
So yeah, fifteen minutes of watching him be The Most Superior Man in the World in the teens or twenties or whatever it was, was about all I could take.