Finally, a Man Worth Killing

KingArthurby Jon N. Hall    3/26/14
NOTE: The following movie review, my first attempt at one, appeared on Sep. 4, 2006 at a long-defunct vanity website called DissectingPopCulture. I trot it out again because the movie is currently running on cable on both Encore (March 29) and Starz (April 1), so fire up your DVRs. Also, my cable provider, AT&T Uverse, let’s one order it On Demand for free. The flick may not be in the same rank as Citizen Kane and Vertigo, but it has its moments. Here’s how I saw it eight years ago:

I’ve been reading FrontPageMag for years, and I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen where the “popular culture” was in the Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Clearly, the CSPC and its FrontPageMag focused on politics, academia, slavery reparations, jihad, the GWOT, the descent of Europe into Eurabia, and many other serious matters. But pop culture seemed to get short shrift. So I concluded that I would need to get other websites to run my odes to John Wayne, my panegyrics to Bruce Willis, and my “Lamentations on the growing putrefaction of Rock & Roll since 1975”.

However, the Center has just been renamed “The David Horowitz Freedom Center”. This is a much better name, and fitting that it bears its founder’s name. We are fortunate to have an institution dedicated to a value not understood, not cherished, and not much seen outside the West: Freedom.

But getting back to popular culture—which is the focus of this website—occasionally it produces something apropos of the Center’s new name: call it the “Freedom film”. And that’s what this article is about, a Freedom film Mr. Horowitz and his minions just might approve of.

For some time now I’ve been boycotting Hollywood. I did make one exception, however, when I went to the theatre to screen Scorsese’s The Aviator, a film so magnificent on so many levels that I forgot to feel guilty about my lapse in resolve breaking boycott. But all other recent films have had to come to cable TV. So it is only recently that I have screened what might be the ultimate Freedom film: 2004’s King Arthur.

I didn’t think I’d like this King Arthur as much as I do, but there’s so much to commend it. First off, there’s the “look” of it; shot in Ireland it’s a very pretty movie. Hans Zimmer has delivered a fine orchestral score, sort of a new-agey Brucknerian thing with Celtic overtones. And there’s some haunting singing by Maire Brennan (lead singer in the Celtic band Clannad). There’s one helluva great battle scene on a frozen lake that surely must be inspired by Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938). The special effects in this scene are tiptop. The acting is fine throughout; Ray Winstone’s Bors stands out. Screenwriter David Franzoni (Gladiator) has written a fine script, with goodly dollops of humor. Interestingly, the director is an African-American, Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun).

But the most creative and original thing about this particular King Arthur, and what jazzes me most about it, is the very concept of the film. This is a de-mythologizing of the story. You get none of the mysticism and magic found in Camelot, Excalibur and other renderings. It’s an attempt to make it seem real, to set it down in history.

Arthur is a 5th century Roman commander policing Britannia. His knights are from Sarmatia, the steppes of present-day Ukraine. Arthur is Christian and his Sarmatian knights—Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain, Dagonet, Tristan, and Bors—are pagan. The story begins in 452 A.D. (Incidentally, this so happens to be one year after the great Battle of Châlons-sur-Marne, one of the most important battles in history, where Romans allied with Visigoths beat back the Huns. It was the last major battle of the Western Roman Empire, which fell in 476 A.D., ushering in the Dark Ages.) Romans have gone to the defeated Sarmatia to conscript Lancelot, still just a lad, for military service in Britannia. The action then jumps forward 15 years, and it is here that the continuing theme of Freedom asserts itself. For it is the eve of Arthur and his knight’s discharge from their 15-year military service—they are about to become free men. Arthur plans to go to Rome, which he idealizes, and his knights plan to go home to Sarmatia, although Bors is considering staying in Britannia.

But Freedom is to be postponed, as Rome has one last mission for the knights before granting them their discharge papers, and it is more dangerous than any other. A mighty Saxon army is invading to the north. (This is historically accurate inasmuch as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes did invade the island in the 5th century). Rome is withdrawing from “indefensible outposts” like Britannia, and needs the knights to rescue an important Roman family whose estate lies between them and the invading Saxons. Trouble is: the estate is north of Hadrian’s Wall, the land of the fierce Woads (native Britons, so named for the blue pigment they apply to their skin). Since Rome is abandoning Britannia to the invading Saxons, the knights feel they’ve been fighting for nothing. But to gain their Freedom they must obey this final order and rescue the family.

As expected, while riding north Arthur and his knights are attacked by the Woads. But just as they are about to be massacred Merlin, the leader of the Woads, calls it off and lets them live. Old Merlin has other plans for Arthur. So they make it to the estate, but are shocked to see the wretched condition of the Woad slaves. They’re malnourished and are being overworked and abused by the Romans. Arthur informs everyone that a vast and terrible army that will show no mercy is fast approaching, and he prepares to evacuate everyone immediately, including the slaves. Tristan returns from his reconnoitering and informs Arthur that they have no time; the Saxons are very near. It is beginning to snow, and they hear the Saxon war drums reverberating through the hills.

AtTheEstate

At the Roman estate north of Hadrian’s Wall

Right as they are about to evacuate Arthur eyes a suspicious-looking building. Though time is of the essence, they break down the door and find a dungeon where Woads are being punished for their heresies. They rescue the 2 Woads who haven’t succumbed, a boy and one Guinevere, whom Arthur himself carries out. They then set out on their escape. (The scenes at the estate and of the subsequent snowy journey back to safety are the most beautiful in the movie. Some of the shots look like Pre-Raphaelite paintings. And on the journey Zimmer’s score blazes forth in its Brucknerian mode.)

During the trek we learn that Arthur is only half Roman, his mother was a Briton. One night during their journey back to safety Guinevere walks away from their encampment, trying to lure Arthur to follow her, which he does. And out of the snowy mists appears Merlin, Arthur’s mortal enemy. Merlin knows the Romans are withdrawing from the island and that the fearsome Saxons are on the march. Though the Britons have fought Arthur for years, they respect his military prowess and believe he can do anything. And inasmuch as Arthur is half Briton, Merlin entreats him not to go with the Romans to Rome, but stay and lead them against the Saxons. They need a “master of war”.

They make it back, and receive their discharge papers, making them free men. Guinevere picks up where Merlin left off and tells Arthur, “These are your people”. Soon the Saxons arrive. Arthur goes to the battlements and sees the campfires of the Saxons glowing in the night. At that moment he decides. He realizes he cannot abandon his mother’s people, his people, the native Britons, to the Saxons. He tells his men, “Knights, my journey with you must end here. May God go with you”.

The next day the Romans and knights head for the sea to flee the island, while Arthur stays to fight the Saxons with the Britons. But the knights can’t bring themselves to abandon Arthur and come back to fight with their great leader. And they prevail against the Saxons. And the knights decide to stay in Britain. And Arthur and Guinevere get married. And the Britons make Arthur their king. And there you have it. The End.

I could go on and on, but that’s the gist of the story. There are many wonderful scenes and details I’ve omitted, but I leave them for you to discover. The liberties taken with the story might rankle history sticklers and Arthurian purists. But I’ll have none of it; screenwriter Franzoni is after much bigger game than just another retelling. This is one big hymn to Freedom, references to Freedom echo throughout the movie.

Caveat: The version of the film I’ve seen is PG-13, presumably the theatrical release, and not the Director’s Cut, which is about 14 minutes longer. So I cannot vouch for the extended version and my comments are confined to the PG-13 version. Although there’s much action in this shorter version, there’s no gore. No severed arteries spurting, no entrails falling onto the battlefield. The PG-13 version works so well for me that I’m a bit averse to screening the Director’s Cut, which is Unrated. The PG-13 version is available at Amazon.com. Christians may take exception to how the Church comes off. But this is misguided; the hero of the story is devout. The one sex scene in the short version, which is not nude, is about as tasteful as any you’re likely to see in cinema since the ‘50s.

In my book, character is everything. So let’s look at some.

TheCast

Ioan Gruffudd (Lancelot), Keira Knightley (Guinevere), Clive Owen (Arthur, aka Artorius Castus)

Franzoni’s knights are not your dandified goody-two-shoes affairs you find in other Arthurian narratives. They’re tough customers, hardened by years of fighting. They’re life-takers and heartbreakers, the kind of guys who eat their own guts for breakfast and ask for seconds. But they’re not stamped out of cookie cutters; each is unique. Dagonet is the strong selfless silent type. Bors is loud and lewd but dotes on his kids. Lancelot and Galahad just want to survive and go home to Sarmatia. Tristan is an uncanny shot and has a taste for fighting. Gawain seems rather jaded and tired. And Guinevere is no dainty flower, either. She enters the climactic battle along with the men and kicks Saxon butt. And the cast fleshes out these characters superbly. Stellan Skarsgård’s Saxon heavy is delicious. The cast contains a Swede, a Dane, a German, an Italian, some Irish, and lots of English blokes, but nary an American that I’m aware of.

But the title character is the one that most intrigues. This Arthur is an interesting combination of Boy Scout and Dirty Harry. In defending Rome he has spilt blood and taken lives for years, yet he talks to God. He prays to Him to spare his men on their last perilous mission so that they may attain their Freedom, and offers up his own life in the bargain. Clive Owen’s Arthur has a natural nobility, dignity, and grace, and his understated performance grows on you. (Why isn’t this guy in the first rank of matinee idols? Maybe he’s just too manly, today’s women preferring the more easily manipulated metro-sexual.)

DavidFranzoni

David Franzoni

One wonderful detail of this Arthur is that he’s a disciple of Pelagius. (Pelagius is an historical figure, a 5th century British monk whose doctrines were considered heretical.) Though Arthur loves Rome, he does not accept the Roman idea that “some men are born to be slaves”, and has embraced Pelagius’ philosophy of Freedom. Pelagius is a father figure for Arthur. When the young Alecto informs Arthur that back in Rome Pelagius has been excommunicated and killed, Arthur is stricken. Alecto continues, “the Rome you talk of doesn’t exist, except in your dreams.” (Hats off to Franzoni. Putting Pelagius in the story is marvelously inventive, and helps to make the story real. Another invention I like is calling the Caledonians “Woads”—the very sound of it. I’ve tried to ascertain if he could have lifted this from other writers. I even consulted the O.E.D. It may be original. Also, I couldn’t make out the monosyllabic word the Sarmatians yelled at each other throughout the movie. I consulted an online script. The word is “Rus”. Sticklers will point out that this is an anachronism, as the Varangian Rus hadn’t migrated to the Ukraine by the 5th century. Folks who would object to such just don’t know how to watch movies.)

Franzoni’s wonderful script teems with great dialog. I could supply a hyperlink to a website of it, but I’m not gonna do it—see the movie. But here’s a taste. Just before the climatic battle scene the Saxons wave the white flag and Arthur, sword in hand, rides out alone to parley with the Saxon warlord, also alone:

WARLORD: Arthur. Wherever I go on this wretched island I hear your name. Always half-whispered, as if you were a . . . god. All I see is flesh, blood. No more god than the creature you’re sitting on.

ARTHUR: Speak your terms, Saxon.

WARLORD: The Romans have left you. Who are you fighting for?

ARTHUR: I fight for a cause beyond Rome’s or your understanding.

WARLORD: Ah. You come to beg a truce. You should be on your knees.
[Arthur thrusts his sword to within a foot of the Saxon’s head.]

ARTHUR: I came to see your face, so that I alone may find you on the battlefield. And it would be good for you to mark my face, Saxon, for the next time you see it, it will be the last thing you see on this earth.
[Arthur turns and rides off for battle.]

WARLORD: Ah, finally, a man worth killing.

Some may contend that there are other more-deserving nominees for the title of “Ultimate Freedom Film of All Time”. Such films as Braveheart, Spartacus, The Return of the King and Glory are obvious contenders. Great films all. But I’m sticking with Franzoni’s King Arthur. And probably because it took place in the 5th century, when Western Civilization was threatened big-time. Rather like today.

I have no idea what screenwriter Franzoni’s political persuasion may be, but this is a film conservatives can love. Indeed, it is must-see cinema for conservatives. It celebrates so many of the values and virtues conservatives hold dear: Duty, Honor, Courage, Loyalty, Sacrifice, Homeland, Faith, Family, and, of course, Freedom.

But now that the Saxon is subdued, converted, and assimilated, the West sees new threats to civilization. Perhaps as never before, Freedom needs her defenders. She needs new “masters of war”—new Arthurs. Where these new Arthurs are to come from, or who they may be, I do not know. But I do know Freedom already has one new champion: The David Horowitz Freedom Center. And for spiritual sustenance, we can always use another Freedom film.
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Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. • (8760 views)

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38 Responses to Finally, a Man Worth Killing

  1. Glenn Fairman says:

    I’m going to watch this one, by gum!

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I generally like this movie. But it contained one of the most annoying scenes I’ve ever seen on film. Clive Owen frees 20 lb. (a slight exaggeration) Keira Knightley from a dungeon. Knightley (Guinevere) is obviously underfed, a bit anemic, and weak from the long days in the dungeon.

    Shortly after her release, they turn her into the prototypical (what I call) “ass-kicking female.” She joins Arthur in a battle against some professional soldiers who are easily three times the size of Guinevere. Plus, they have armor. Plus, did I mention that they were professional soldiers?

    But Knightly’s ass-kicking female ju jitsu routine takes down more than one of them. If Glenn doesn’t chuckle when seeing that then I will have lost some respect for him.

    But this is generally a fun re-telling of the Arthurian legend. I like Ray Stevenson in his role (which most will recognize as Titus Pullo from HBO’s “Rome” series). Watch out for that ice, Ray.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    The history of that period is vague; all we know of the historical Arthur (if he even existed, which is hardly certain) consists of brief mentions in chronicles written a few centuries later. But the usual version is that the Saxons were initially invited in by Arthur’s predecessor, Vortigern, after Rome pulled its legions out of Britannia at the beginning of the 5th century. I think they pretty definitely arrived primarily in the south, certainly not in Scotia. How much of this change was necessary for the story would be hard to say given that I’ve never heard of this movie before.

    On the other hand, I have seen the idea that the knights came from Sarmatia before, and that has to be considered a plus in terms of historicity (even though we don’t know if that was the case either, of course). The Sarmatians did base their army’s striking power on armored lancers, which at this time weren’t all that common in Europe (though the Romans did have some, if the army lists for ancient miniatures games are at all accurate).

    Trying to identify the best “Freedom film” of all time would certainly be quite a task. I haven’t seen Braveheart, unfortunately. I would like to think that some movie on the American Revolution might qualify (perhaps even 1776).

    Incidentally, thinking of old movies in terms of modern freedom, it recently occurred to me that The Grapes of Wrath is (today) a more conservative movie than Steinbeck probably could ever have imagined. To be sure, the Joads’ experiences are very definitely not intended to leave one sympathetic for the “one percent” — but their goal throughout is simply to earn their own way. “An honest day’s work for a day’s pay” may never be quoted, but it’s their goal — and today, that has become a very conservative notion.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Best freedom film: Casablanca, of course.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        “Escape from New York”
        “Escape from Alcatraz”
        “The Great Escape”

        Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But I am only half joking about “The Great Escape”, what a great film.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Yes, I would include “The Great Escape” among the best freedom films. I’d also include “The Sound of Music” and “The Ten Commandments.”

          • steve lancaster says:

            I had forgotten this gem of social commentary but it stands out there as a freedom movie, Logan’s Run with Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan made in 1976. If you have an Amazon prime account you can download it until 04/01

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I have “Logan’s Run” on Blu Ray. It is indeed social commentary. That society took Death Panels to its logical conclusion.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I saw them film part of “Logan’s Run”. They used the newer wing of the Dallas Apparel Mart. The whole building is now gone.

                I was an extra in another movie around the same time. Both showed me how repetitive and boring the movie making process can be.

    • steve lancaster says:

      While it is not on the Revolution, Northwest Passage, based on the book by Kenneth Roberts is exactly what you are looking for. The book and movie is set during the French and Indian war. Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, and Walter Brennan made in 1940.

      Roberts also wrote several books set during the Revolution they are historically accurate and present a view of Benedict Arnold that is still not popular.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I saw them film part of “Logan’s Run”. They used the newer wing of the Dallas Apparel Mart. The whole building is now gone.

    “Logan’s Run” is great, Mr. Kung, because it’s not one of these modern pansy movies that shies away from gritty characters and substitutes plastic CGI and actors who look like they’re pantomiming to a blue screen.

    This movie has grit. The main character, Logan, is very much a product of his culture. He’s a Sandman. And he is so acclimated to killing that it has become a game. He and his friend, Francis, even joke about it.

    This callousness toward life in a supposedly Utopian society is believable. We have only to look at abortion advocates to see this. And you get a fairly rich plot and character development when Logan goes undercover to try to root out the people who will not go along with the idea of dying at 30.

    Logan eventually learns that his life clock might be permanently set so that his time for euthanasia is soon. And the movie plays this interestingly. At first, he’s simply stringing Jenny Agutter along in order to find “Sanctuary,” which is basically where are the rebels are said to congregate. Later, it’s clear he’s trying to save his own skin and does indeed fall for Agutter.

    But unlike most movies (and I wonder how many viewers noticed this), it’s not a quick transition from murderous Sandman to the fellow who falls in love with Agutter. In fact, if you go back and watch this movie, if Agutter ever found out how she was being used, she might never have anything to do with him again. This is an aspect glossed over in the movie but I wonder if it goes into more detail in the book.

    But the Utopian city where Logan lives (I don’t remember if they ever gave this city a name) is an almost exact duplication of the “Progressive” vision. First of all, it is indeed a city — a completely ordered and climate-controlled one. Artificial from top to bottom. And this is decidedly a youth culture and one in which casual sex is one of the main forms of recreation. And the adults are not bogged down by having to do anything as inconvenient as raising children. This is done for them (by machines, slaves, or whatever).

    And the worst sin in this society is being old or wanting to grow old. Being old is thus — as it is in or society now — something to be avoided. And so you really do end up with the quite brainless set of people who are quite content with a life of just forever walking around a glorified mall (Dallas Apparel Mart, in this case). Other than the exclusion of iPhones, this looks like today’s crowd.

    Oh, and they even got the detail right of the “girly-men.” Notice how the “men” in this utopian city are dressed. They are dressed, for all intents and purposes, like girls. The costumes are hilarious. And as far as sex partners, as we see in the attitudes of Logan and those who put themselves on the “circuit,” the sexes are pretty much interchangeable as well. It’s utopia, after all.

    And, of course, just like today, you don’t have to be stuck with who you are. You can go see Michael Anderson Jr. (Doc) and have any face (or body) that you want. You can change them as the fashions change…and no scarring!

    Anyone who understands our narcissistic, youth-oriented, sex-crazed, dumbed-down utopian-minded culture will see “Logan’s Run” as one of the best expressions of that culture on film. It’s exactly (or nearly so) what “Progressives” have in mind. And as I mentioned before, dying at 30 is the natural outcome of the idea of Death Panels.

    They couldn’t make this movie today because today’s film makers have no sense of irony. It’s difficult to comment on silly things if you are living out those silly things and think that they are not silly at all. We see Obama as this crude, false, superficial man. But he hasn’t the ability of self-examination at all. He’s playing out his lie and he dare not look at any part of it. That’s somewhat true of the people who elected him as well.

    It makes you wonder who will be this generation’s Peter Ustinov.

    • steve lancaster says:

      Brad,
      Super review, of a movie that could never be made today, to many liberal ox’s are gored. It is a movie that takes the modern progressive thought and takes it to its logical conclusion. Note also that when Logan travels through the underworld of he city. He discovers it is dying.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Logan travels through the underworld of he city. He discovers it is dying.

        Yes, that’s a good point. If I remember right, the fish (or the seas) are starting to die. The domed city used to get a lot of food from the sea, but it is becoming depleted. You can very much see this Utopia morph into Soylent Green where those bodies on the “Carousel” aren’t zapped, they’re simply recycled.

        And that itself is another eventual outcome of the liberal outlook. To them, we are nothing but the physical. (“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” — Yoda) And if anyone out there hasn’t seen “Soylent Green,” it is one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, and has an amazing cast.

        Mr. Kung, yes, the costumes are cheesy. I’m sure that was intentional to some extent. The costumes were meant to look futuristic, plus give the impression of a sort of air-headed carefree leisure. There’s almost in a semi-state of dress (as many chicks are today, of course, not that I’m complaining). I think the costumes get these ideas across in spades.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Sounds like I should finally have a look at the film. I do recall I thought the customs looked very “cheesy” while I watched the filming. But don’t forget, this was the period when Elvis was wearing those incredible leather jumpsuits.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I never saw Logan’s Run, but from your description it may owe a little something to the excellent Twilight Zone episode “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    Best Freedom Science Fiction Film——“Gattaca” — a triumph of the human spirit over biological determinism.

    King Arthur is on my DVR queue for 3/28. And yes, although I am a sucker for sword and sandal flicks, when little bitty things who couldn’t open up a jar of pickles do Jackie Chan moves and walk up walls, it sets the true essence of feminism back. Although people can be less than discerning, they are not fooled when ideology crashes into a 300 pound knight with a sword the size of a mare’s leg.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      “Gattaca” is another movie that I own on Blu Ray (which tells you what I think of it). This, in my opinion, is Jude Law’s best film. Alan Arkin is terrific as Detective Hugo and Ernest Borgnine has a nice small part.

      This is a rare “stylish” movie that doesn’t short-change you on the story. The syntax of “Gattaca” is minimalist (but at $36 million you could hardly call it low budget) which helps to maximize the human element. This film is not bogged down by extraneous CGI. Much of it is left to your imagination.

      With today’s movie goers having ruined their taste buds by smothering their filet mignons in A-1 Sauce, it’s questionable whether they can still taste the meat of a movie such as this. But the human themes in it are remarkable. It’s yet another film about character over breeding. And it’s another look at the kind of rickety utopia that could well emerge. We’re already starting to choose children before they are born based upon their traits. It’s difficult to imagine that science and technology won’t allow you to choose “perfect” genes for your child in the near future.

      And aside from that, it’s not hard to believe that people, simply because of having supposedly “good” genes, would then think themselves superior. In order to understand the leaders on the Left (and quite a few of their followers) you need to realize that they think they are already part of a master race. Even without objective factors such as superior genes (however one might measure this), there are people who think they are better. It has always been so, I suppose.

      This propensity would be ramped up if people could get designer-gene children. And one can easily see how the Ethan Hawkes of the world, who were conceived the old-fashioned way, would be cut out of the loop in terms of job and social prospects. There may be nothing as mean and viscous in this world than The Beautiful People whose only measure is physical perfection. It’s not difficult to conceive of the human race becoming quickly distorted and degenerate as is happening to various breeds of dog who are bred for outward looks only (although in the movie, raw intelligence is supposedly a valued trait). It’s said that the desire for that long collie nose has caused the brain case of the species to shrink with deleterious effects on the intelligence of the breed.

      But it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. We see that in the depressed, suicidal Jude Law in contrast to the genetically inferior Hawke who has a spirit for life and his drive more than makes up for any imperfections. Just remember the truly evil man we have in the White House who said that one should not take “spirit” in account when assessing the value of life.

      Another great dystopia flick.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, if we’re going to discuss dystopian movies, there have been 2 different versions of 1984 (and a cartoon version of Animal Farm that changed the ending) and a TV movie version of Brave New World.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I look forward to your discussion or article on dystopia flicks. I think “Fahrenheit 451” is terrific. But I have yet to see a good production of either “1984” or “Brave New World.”

          • Timothy Lane says:

            The problem is that it’s been years since I saw any of those (and I probably should have mentioned the movie of Fahrenheit 451, though I find it interesting that in the book Montag had no book with him when he joined the book people, but had memorized certain parts of the Bible).

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        “There may be nothing as mean and viscous in this world than The Beautiful People whose only measure is physical perfection.”

        This is nothing new and why I say the elites see everyone else as beneath them.

        The following quote is from “A Survey of European Civilization” By Ferguson and Brunn, four ed. pub. 1969, page 216. The period in question is 1050-1270 A.D. and the subject is Feudal Society.

        “The free-born, fighting noble, therefore, had nothing but contempt for the servile, laboring peasant. He was necessary to the comfort and prosperity of his master, but as an individual person he scarcely existed. He was regarded as distinctly an inferior being. The romantic literature of the period, composed for a noble audience, reflects this attitude. When an individual peasant is mentioned, which is not often, he is described as physically grotesque, stupid, and horribly unclean..”

        Does this sound familiar? As I always tell people, the Left’s politics are regressive. They don’t wish to take us forward, they want to take us back to the good old days when they were on top and the rest of us knew our places.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I sometimes refer to them as Aristos for this very reason. Note how their proposed energy regulations would tend to have the effect of medieval sumptuary laws (combined with the indulgences that Johann Tetzel became infamous for selling), and that much of their affected guilt resembles medieval flagellants. Their primary objection to modern mass consumerism is that it leaves their situation too little superior to that of the peasants.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Their need to be special and superior is what really pushes many of them. Their compassion for the masses is, at best, theoretical.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          …he is described as physically grotesque, stupid, and horribly unclean..” . . . Does this sound familiar?

          Yes. They were obviously talking about the Tea Party.

          And there is no doubt that the “egalitarian” politics of the Left are little more than politics. They are about power and privilege. To actually create an egalitarian society would subvert the ability of any class to think of itself as superior. A commitment to equality would require the best and brightest to actually lower themselves and put themselves at the service of others (the last will be the first and the first will be the last). Despite the dishonest rhetoric, that’s not what you’re getting from these people in Washington DC, from either of the parties (with a very few exceptions, such as Ted Cruz). They are all arrogant a-holes.

          As it is now, in the general public at large, this “superiority” is usually manifested as a superiority of “niceness.” But there is always that ugly underbelly where those who are considered inferior are deemed expendable instead of the object of compassion.

          As soon as you start separating people into classes — even for the supposed purpose of evening things out — you inevitable focus on classes, not individuals. And when you deny another person’s humanity and individuality, that is the first step to being able to dispose of him or treat him as a second-class citizen. Now you understand (as if you didn’t before, and I’m sure you did) how the IRS can target the Tea Party. It’s not just that the Tea Party is a political opponent to these “Progressives” who are now a significant percentage of the government bureaucracy. They are, to the left, inferior and/or wicked people. Joe Biden referred to them as “terrorists.” We need to take their words seriously, for many discounted the various slanders and invective of Hitler.

          It is the commitment of all decent human beings to balance useful preconceptions with taking every person for who he may be, without preconceptions. It would be foolish, of course, (and the Left is foolish time and again) to suppose that the bedraggled character with shifty eyes in the dark alley is a Jehovah’s Witness handing out Watchtowers. Discrimination isn’t a bad word. It’s a necessary word.

          But neither should we forget the humanity behind every person, and that a person might be other than the caricature that he resembles. This kind of thinking requires both stereotypes and going beyond stereotypes. That is, it requires wisdom and discernment…all the good traits that a full (not “Progressive”) Western education is (or was) meant to instill. Holding those two opposites in dynamic tension requires the development of a mind, heart, and moral system more complex than what you can get for free out of a box of Cracker Jacks (or get by watching Jon Stewart).

          The Left’s politics are indeed regressive. At heart, they would simply create a new feudal system. As Rush often notes, the Democrat Party depends for its success on creating a permanent underclass of people. This is not much different from the thinking of the Lords and Ladies of old.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Let me give you another quote from the previously mentioned book on page 227. The same era is being discussed.

            “The burghers, as the members of the new middle class were called,…did not fit neatly into the scheme of feudal society. They were neither servile workers of the soil nor noble-born warriors. They were something new-free men, though of common birth, who made an independent living by trade and industry, using money as the means of exchange, and who banded together for mutual protection in more or less self governing associations….The fighting nobles looked down on them as base upstarts. The church regarded them with a suspicious eye, as men given over to worldly concerns that were dangerous to the soul.”

            Further confirmation that what is happening now, has been with us in the West for a long time. The “Nobles” cannot stand having their position and privilege being anything but exclusive to them. It is not only a matter of actual wealth, but of being “more equal than others”. I think many of them would be willing to give up a large portion of their wealth to attain control over the plebs and control them. Note the global warming crowd which are all for slowing down economic growth as long as they stay on top. They still want their “serfs” and are doing their best to push the majority of people into this class.

            For the Church, independent thought and action was not welcome.

            The middle class has always been a threat to concentrated power and interests. That is why such interests have always despised them and tried to weaken them.

            Libertarians don’t seem to get this. Broadly spread wealth and stability cannot be created or maintained by a society full of slackers who do not value hard work, self control and cooperation. Furthermore, the “every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” philosophy of Libertarians would also most likely take us back to the times where rule of law would become less important than gang rule. If there are no norms, anything goes and generally the “anythings” of those with the biggest hammer will come out on top.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              The middle class has always been a threat to concentrated power and interests.

              Good point. True freedom has many powerful enemies, not least of which is the desire of men to be taken care of.

              There was surely some point to the specialization of labor in feudal times, the serfs would provide the food, the lords and knights would provide the protection (although the serfs, too, were called into war when needed, I’m sure).

              And that’s what we are devolving to now. Think how silly feminism is. A calendar of some scantily-clad woman on some guy’s desk is cause for hyperventilation. No, you haven’t come a long way, baby, if you can’t handle a photo calendar. Not all women are like that, but enough are to drive the cause.

              Same with race. I remember hearing some dumb-ass on Michael Medved’s show complain that some TV show (I forget which show it was) had a race of beings called “diggers.” And the caller complained that it sounded too much like the n-word.

              So we now have all these new-style serfs, if only of mind, looking to the lords and ladies of political correctness (aka “Marxism”) to slay the dragon of (choose one or more): intolerance, inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental destruction, capitalism — everything and everyone but those who are the true threats: the would-be ruling classes of nannies, statists, and Marxist/socialist authoritarians.

              Americans are more and more reminding me not of serfs (who, one would presume, still had their self respect) but the Elois of H.G. Wells’ futuristic world in “The Time Machine.” These people had devolved into ignorant, illiterate people living at the level of bare subsistence. Not much different from cattle. And that’s what they were to their masters, the Morlocks, who would emerge now and then to hunt them for food.

              I guess the draw of “free stuff” is too strong to awaken the stirring of self-respect in most people today.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Interestingly, the Eloi were intended as the degenerated upper class and the Morlocks as the degenerated workers.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                “There was surely some point to the specialization of labor in feudal times, the serfs would provide the food, the lords and knights would provide the protection (although the serfs, too, were called into war when needed, I’m sure)”

                Basically, the Carolingian rulers had taxed the small land holder through compulsive military service which grew too onerous to fulfill. These landholders transferred their land to larger estates and worked the land as tenants in lieu of military service.

                The central government grew weaker and the lords became more independent and fractious. Violence increased and more people needed protection thus gave up their land in lieu of protection.

                In the end there was virtually no central authority and individual lords carried on their own individual wars as they saw fit. The violence then reached an apex when the Norsemen arrived and spread death and destruction for about 100 years.

                Security was more important than farmland.

                The Muslim takeover of the Levant and Spain were also major contributors to the institution as commerce which had been contracting since the fall of the Western Roman Empire came to a virtual halt. The money economy died.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “Clive Owen’s Arthur has a natural nobility, dignity, and grace, and his understated performance grows on you. (Why isn’t this guy in the first rank of matinee idols?”

    I would have taken Clive Owen over Daniel Craig, who neither my wife nor I can stand, for the latest James Bond role.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Good Clive Owen: King Arthur, Children of Men (a so-so movie itself), Gosford Park (for Anglophiles only), The Borne Identity
      Bad Clive Owen: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (his Sir Walter Raleigh did not come off well)

      I would have taken Gilligan over Daniel Craig. Craig has no style. And he looks Russian, not British. But it doesn’t really matter these days who plays him. James Bond, as a character, is dead, replaced by special effects, explosions, and camera shakes. Long live Sean Connery (or even Simon Templar) — and scripts with a bit of restraints, style, and spy thriller.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        After Moonraker, I was a bit cautious about the movies (I couldn’t help comparing them to the novels and stories, all of which I’ve read except The Spy Who Loved Me). But then a friend pointed out that For Your Eyes Only brought back a more genuine Bond, and this largely continued through the remaining Roger Moore movies as well as the 1980s sequels with Timothy Dalton.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I thought “View to a Kill” had a weak story, and I despised the song by Duran Duran, arguably the worst Bond song ever. But I liked Roger Moore. It’s de rigueur to say that Sean Connery is better and to denigrate Moore. But I thought Moore did a good job.

          But they keep trying to super-size the events. I watched about five minutes of one of the Craig films and had to turn it off. They had guys leaping from i-beam to i-beam (often jumping fifty feet or more) as if they were lemurs.

          Plausibility is always somewhat stretched. But there’s a kind of alternate universe plausibility in a good Bond film that allows you to take for granted cars that fly or can snorkel underwater. But the stuff they do nowadays is so over the top, it’s just a mess. And what makes it worse is that they’re dealing with a dumbed-down audience (self-created, thought it may be) whose brain cells have been burned out by over-stimulating on a steady diet of aural and visual superabundance.

          They need to get the gestalt of Bond back. Right now it’s just a complete mess.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            After we saw Tomorrow Never Dies, a friend said the only thing it needed was Shirley Bassey doing the theme song (since she did 3 of them and was also considered for Thunderball). I have CDs of 3 Bond soundtracks — Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever.

            Incidentally, the original story of “A View to a Kill” (with a slightly different title, in the collection For Your Eyes Only) involved Bond solving the disappearance of NATO dispatch riders in Paris. (During World War II, Fleming had a girlfriend who was a dispatch rider, and I think was killed by a bomb.)

            • steve lancaster says:

              All of Flemings James Bonds are based on a Mossad agent named Israel Bond 🙂

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Ah, yes, agent Oy-Oy-Seven. I have the books Loxfinger, Matzohball, and On the Secret Service of His Majesty the Queen, though regrettably I haven’t read them yet.

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Interestingly, the Eloi were intended as the degenerated upper class and the Morlocks as the degenerated workers.

    Timothy, I was thinking in terms of the movie staring Rod Taylor. No doubt it differed from the book. In the movie, the Elois were presented as little more than adult children. They were all good-looking, but totally brainless. They were sheep. Sort of like the Academy Awards audience. Beautiful but stupid.

    The interesting thing about today’s “social democracies” is that they are, at present, founded upon a synergy between the degenerate upper classes (at least those who think of themselves as the do-gooders but are actually enriching themselves) and the degenerate (or at least corrupted) lower classes. They combine to plunder the productive classes.

    And there is, of course, much overlap. You could, for example, divide the productive classes into either the low-information useful idiots who think this system is about “saving the planet” or those who recognize the scam for what it is (Tea Party members would be amongst this faction). Those who are aware of the scam understand that they are being fed upon like a vampire bat feeds on a cow. And some think it’s only a matter of time until the host is killed or flees as in “Atlas Shrugged.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The movie did a pretty good job of reflecting the Eloi and Morlocks. There are a few differences, such as the fact that the siren calling the cattle to their doom was a movie addition, as was the scene with the disintegrating books (though it was an excellent addition). But the Eloi and Morlocks of the book are quite compatible with the Eloi and Morlocks of the movie. (Note that in the book the unnamed Time Traveler gave no indication that he planned to return to that hideous world before he disappeared with his machine.)

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