Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I believe I'll dust my crops

The New York Times - Today's Paper gives us, free, six or seven main headlines:  one of those today reads,

"Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General"

(Get strange mental image of self running after an attorney general, waving a copy of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes over my head -- "Here!  Wait!  We wanted to give you this...!"...)

"lobbyists bearing gifts"


{Charlie Wilson's War.  Mike Nichols - Aaron Sorkin -- 2007 -- book by George Crile}
"That was an extraordinary thing you did today."
-- "What did I do that was so extraordinary?"
-- (admiringly, imperiously, and very feminine-ly) -- "Double it."

[That's Joanne Herring talking with Congressman Wilson:  she, too, is "lobbying."]

"Don't underestimate me, Charlie.  Believe everything you've heard." ...

The scene in Charlie Wilson's War, where the Soviet helicopters are flying over Afghanistan in 1980, bombing and killing, suddenly made me think of another movie I've been studying:  Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest.  In that 1959 piece is a scene which has probably achieved the status they call "iconic" --

where Cary Grant is chased by a crop-dusting plane.

The crop-dusting plane scene in North By Northwest is like the Russian-helicopter-Afghanistan scene in Charlie Wilson's War, in that there is this threat, this terror, this malevolent force --

coming out of the sky.

However, the crop-dust scene and the Russian-helicopter scene are

from each other because --

1.  Charlie Wilson's War is fact based; North by Northwest is a fictional movie script written by Ernest Lehman.
2.  The Cary Grant character in North x NW survives the episode; Wilson's-war is portraying the real story of Afghans who were suffering horrific losses at the hands of the communists.

Both of these movies deal with Cold War themes,
Wilson's, directly,
n x nw somewhat indirectly.

------------- North By Northwest was made in 1959 with a 1959 sensibility, presumably about people and activities "happening" in 1959 as Cold War tensions and realities stood at that time.

Charlie Wilson's War, made in 2007 with a 21st-century sensibility, portrays the 1980s, and the Cold War at that point.

==================== Alfred Hitchcock as a movie director and story-teller was a sort of Anxiety Engineer.
An engineer-of-anxiety.
One could argue that North by Northwest is the perfect Cold-War-catharsis film:  it's about spies; an innocent man drawn into a plot where he doesn't belong, and he's targeted -- the powerlessness, and desperation and sense of ridiculousness ("My name is not George Kaplan--you've got the wrong man").  Through the prism of entertainment this movie could displace the public's well-founded anxiety about communism and nuclear capability, with play-anxiety about a pretend-situation.