Friday, May 8, 2009

Memento: Creating the Male Victim

If you take a look at Spicer’s description of the “male victim”, you’ll see that he differentiates between two types of the character. The first victim is a middle-class drifter or professional; he is morally weak, attempting to escape the frustrations of his daily life and he uses his story to explain or excuse his actions. The second type is in the wrong place at the wrong time; he has to battle his way out of adversity displaying some heroic qualities; he often doubts his sanity; he is resilient and courageous, but he almost always needs outside help. We get the sense from Spicer that these are two distinct versions of the “male victim”, but Leonard Shelby in Memento is a composite of both. Due to his unique psychological condition, Leonard is a character that can encompass all the qualities the noir figure, creating an ultimate “male victim”.

Leonard is both a professional and a drifter. The part of his life that he remembers is as an insurance salesman, but the life he’s been living since his wife’s murder is as a drifter. Director Christopher Nolan says of the character, “Shelby knows who he is, but not who he has become”. This fact allows for the juxtaposition of the victim types. He is attempting to escape his frustrating life through memory tricks, but he often finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Due to his memory loss, he can’t completely trust the reality he finds himself in. Leonard wants to be the good guy and he appears to be one throughout most of the film, but that’s only because he’s living in the past. He can’t live in the present and engage with the man he has become. At the film’s conclusion (stories beginning), we see that Leonard’s present character is morally weak. He sets himself up to be a killer just so his life will have purpose. He’s a Jekyll/Hyde character; his cognizant self plays off his confused self to create targets for execution.

We can’t blame Leonard entirely though. Robert Porfirio says that “noir’s ‘non-heroic’ hero is such because he operates in a world devoid of the moral framework necessary to produce a traditional hero”. The noir universe that is the setting of Memento is so corrupt and twisted that Leonard cannot gain his moral bearings and thus becomes an anti-hero. Teddy, a cop, and one of his only friends, is an incredibly amoral character. Instead of stopping Leonard or helping him, all those around him encourage murder. In this type of environment, he doesn’t stand a chance.

The complex narrative structure of Memento gives us a better experience of the anti-hero’s condition. All the uncertainty and ambiguity that arises out of the backward narrative confuses the audience, putting them in a better position to understand Leonard. This style, attached to noir’s existentialist questions creates a film that deeply ponders the nature of perception and humanity.

Lost Highway: Bringing out the Noir

Spicer writes about the complexity of the postmodern noir’s narrative. In them we see the excess often associated with neo-noir. The complex stories and “convoluted plots often circle back on themselves” creating “a pervasive uncertainty about the reliability of what is being shown or told” (CP 116). Lost Highway fits this description, but goes even further. The Lynch film amps up noir’s complexity and convolution by placing it in the realm of the surreal where things don’t need logical solutions or explanations. The rules under which the world of Lost Highway operates throw away any certainty or reliability about the plot, which allows the audience to be fully engaged its noir-ness. Instead of trying to figure out just what the hell is going on, we can sit back and appreciate the plot as something without sense. In Lost Highway, we see the noir narrative made manifest.
Naremore writes that Lost Highway is such an effective noir because it creates a complete loss of psychological bearings (CP 135). What sense are we supposed to make of the Robert Blake character? Is there really any explanation about his presence? What are we to make of Fred becoming Pete in the jail cell? What rules of existence allow for such an unbelievable occurrence? The film presents a million more questions than answers. It’s deliberately meant to be a confusing film. David Lynch has said that the film takes place in the same universe as his show “Twin Peaks”; this revelation only elicits more questions. The whole experience of watching the film is very off-putting and disorienting. Any attempt to make sense of the happenings of the plot would result in further headache. The fact is that there aren’t any answers to the boundless questions and the quicker we realize this, the sooner we can allow ourselves to be enveloped by the darkness. This sense of confusion is not something we can fight our way out of through any manner of rational thought.
There are many nods to more specific noir tropes. There’s jazz music, darkness, murder, dames, schemes, and dark pasts to beat the bend, but these are just minor supplements to the noir narrative. Patricia Arquette portrays two femme fatales, one with red hair and one with blond, which resemble specific femmes from noir’s past. Their actions aren’t overly important and they don’t fulfill the potential of their archetypes, they’re just scenery, mise-en-scene for the noir world. Most of the individual noir tropes function this way. However, Lost Highway does fulfill the potential of the noir narrative, which few films can claim to have done; even the most convoluted of noirs will end with exposition to alleviate our confusion. There is no big reveal to this film and nothing can ever truly be brought to light. The audience remains in the darkness of noir, without their psychological bearings, until the film is mercifully turned off.

The Big Lebowski: The Noir Comedy

In The Big Lebowski the noir world is tested. The film showcases a number of tropes, twists, and conventions of the noir genre. In a typical film, these things would result in a serious and often tragic story; Lebowski is neither. Injected into this story are a number of characters outside the noir world, namely The Dude, Jeffrey Lebowski. He’s a lazy, easy-going, individual with little desire for material gain, which makes him immune to the pitfalls of the noir world. Sure, he goes through all the motions, but all he wants is the rug that “really tied the room together”. The genius of the Coen brothers is their utilization of such a character in a noir plot. Their film isn’t a comedy set in the noir world; it’s a comedy because of the noir world’s failed attempt to exert itself on The Dude.
The noir aspects of Lebowski’s plot are a nod to classic noir films like The Big Sleep. However, instead of injecting a proper P.I. into the kidnapping case, the Coens give us an unemployed slacker. What’s ironic about The Dude is that he’s more aware of certain twists than your average P.I.. He assumes off the bat that the kidnapping is a ruse. His divulging of this deduction to Walter leads to making the story a lot more complicated. When he attempts to read Jackie Treehorn’s note via the North By Northwest tactic, he just ends up with an illustration of a penis. His attempts to engage with the noir world and utilize his knowledge of it end absurdly. This, on a larger scale is what the Coens accomplish with the film as a whole. When placing noir under a comedic lens, the genre becomes ridiculous. How can one enter such a world without becoming hopelessly lost and disenchanted? They would be likely to say, “fuck it, let’s go bowling” and retire to the real world.
This exposes what can be done with genre when altering tone. Noir, in itself isn’t as specific as your typical noir film. The classic films incorporate elements from drama, mystery and melodrama. Noir, as an idea, is broader than that and can be infused with comedy to create something very funny. Any genre can be funny, sad, or scary, it’s just a matter of how you treat it.
The Dude’s abiding strips the expectations from classic noir, which aims to punish its protagonists. The noir comedy shows someone who will not give in to its dramatic and tragic elements. The film isn’t a drama, tragedy, or really even a mystery, so why shouldn’t he just abide. There’s no need for a big reveal or downfall because noir doesn’t have to be about those things. The Big Lebowski is about the perpetuation of the human comedy, especially in the face noir. Naremore writes about Mulholland Dr. at the conclusion of “Noir in the Twenty-first Century” that if postmodern noir is capable of creating such a “wrenching dramatic effect, then it remains capable of almost anything” (162). Postmodern noir’s ability to create such an effective comedy in The Big Lebowski also speaks to its vast potential.

Cronenberg and the Human Virus

When you watch David Cronenberg film, you’re watching an exhibition of the unnatural. You bear witness to grotesque conceptions, telepathy, human parasites, and violent transformations. Those involved in these actions or displaying these traits are easily deemed “Others”. The Other is the most central source of terror in the horror genre. However, what’s important to the depiction of the Other and to the magnitude of horror it elicits in the viewer is its basis in humanity. Yes, the scientists present in Cronenberg’s films are able to transform humanity into something terrible and inhuman through the use of biological alchemy, but their motives are perhaps more frightening. They are all attempting to better propagate or sustain humanity. The monsters continue with this aim towards prosperity, mimicking human nature with more expedient results. The horrors of these films are all based on the tendencies inherent in the virus of man.
Alchemy is a field that reflects the aims of mankind perfectly. We wish to transform the natural world to our advantage, so that we may be more prosperous and therefore healthier, more comfortable and longer living. However, today is an age when humanity swims against the current of its nature. We all desire love, companionship and immortality (both in life and legacy), but the world today forces us to question these desires. Sex can be hazardous due to the proliferation of STDs. Trust in others can lead to disappointment or betrayal. The methods of science to prolong life and increase fertility add to the catastrophic potential of overpopulation. It is these anxieties that make Cronenberg films so effective. The mad-scientists of his films are mad because they pursue the desires of human nature. This leads to rapid, immaculate conception and birth in The Brood, but the children are monsters. A fertility drug creates a generation of telepathic humans, who are forced to deal with the knowledge that privacy no longer exists in Scanners. They then exploit this by forcing intimacy amongst themselves and the non-telepathic world. In both Shivers and Rabid sciences created out of mankind’s sexual necessity cause mutations. These mutations lead to the unchecked spread of disease and thus a new humanity. This is a nightmare for a world that now fears excessive reproduction and the risks of sex. We fear what we can do to ourselves and our fears are magnified by the presence of modern science.
If viewed by a superior being through the lens of an otherworldly telescope, our world would appear as a Petri Dish and man would be a virus. Our population continues to grow exponentially. Mankind tears through the environment, taking what it needs to survive. Our doctors aid us in resisting death. We build up a resistance to our own maladies, so that we may be a more supreme virus. Our goal is a healthy and never ending existence, just like any form of life. These tendencies run rampant threaten our goals in the long run, that is why we have started to resist them. We are still a virus, just an evolving one. In his films, David Cronenberg presents us with a transformed humanity that embraces the other side of the spectrum. His reactionary mutations fully embrace the desires of humanity we now wish to repress, for they may destroy us all.

The Father, The Son, and the Family Apocalypse

We are all born with a clean slate. We are innocent, hopeful, and untainted. The world we see before sexuality is full of possibilities. We go on to spread the seed and heritage of our parents. It is children who keep the past, present and future alive. It was this pattern that kept the visage of the American family, with all of its values, intact. This all changed when Rosemary’s baby was born. In the realm of the horror genre, the family’s last possible escape was turned on its head. No longer was “the other” a member of the family who had grown into evil, but one who had been born so. There is no future in this, no recurring pattern to save the family norm, there is only a family apocalypse.
It is at this time that all aspects of horror are begun and exhibited within the confines of the family structure. The illusion of the family life that represses the fears and anxiety associated with child-bearing has manifested itself in the children themselves. However, these children don’t simply remain infants. Rosemary’s baby developed on screen within the horror film. He became Damien, then Regan, then Carrie and so on. Although, by the time it had grown into Carrie, the dynamic within the family had evolved. The apocalypse of the family is no longer wrought by the little children, instead the blame lies with the parents. Their ineptitude, absence and harshness forces their seed to further destruction, giving reason to the horror where there once was none.
Although there are some instances where the mother is at fault (Carrie), the father is the primary culprit in this. Even in Carrie one could argue that the father’s absence is important. When the father is absent, he allows for his children to destroy and/or be destroyed (such is the case in slasher flicks). But there are more direct ways in which the father becomes the root villain. In hindsight, we can see that the cause of the apocalypse of which I speak is the father. Rosemary’s baby was born to change the face of horror and the family, but why was it born? John Cassavettes sold his wife to the Devil in exchange for an acting career and its monetary gains. Subsequently the Devil begat the demon spawn. This trend also follows directly into The Amityville Horror and The Shining in which the fathers go crazy while struggling to deal with financial or creative difficulties and attempt to eliminate their offspring. This idea relates less directly to Poltergeist, where the father’s shady real estate venture brings his family to a haunted house. John Cassavettes was able to stave off this more blatant insanity by nipping his problems in the bud. Sell your wife and potential child to the Devil and your worries are solved.
This one selfish act has seemed to doom the horror film family forever. His act in creating Rosemary’s baby spawned a horror child that transcended all horror, destroying the innocence of the American family in the process (or at least the appearance of it). Then the parents began to agitate and cultivate more terror from their children in an attempt to cope with this evil. This forced the hand of the father, who was too busy dealing with the rigors of capitalist society to act rationally. So, the cycle that was started by the father came to a halt with the father and began again.

Home Alone and the Violent Tradition

When I watch characters on screen that I deem entertaining or likeable being tortured or persecuted, I cringe. I can’t help but root for the protagonist on most occasions, even when my better judgment begs the question, “who cares?”. Usually, I want them to live; I want them to get some sort of retribution against their aggressor. I wanted this at the resolution of Hostel, so much so that I disregarded all its ridiculous coincidences and poor storytelling. When I saw our hero slice off his friend’s torturer’s fingers with a scalpel, I beamed with satisfaction. I leaned back in my chair with a smug look on my face and thought mmm, good, all is well. Movies always seem to push their audience towards expecting and hoping for these types of situations to play out. To us, the protagonist can do no wrong. This isn’t simply the case in only torture flicks and monster movies, it applies to most movie categories, even holiday family comedies. That’s right, my attitude as it pertains to antagonist force in films was cultivated by the highest grossing holiday family comedy of all time, Home Alone. At the age of 3, in a Marcus Theatre close to home, I watched on approvingly as Kevin McCallister, aptly played by McCauley Culkin, shot Daniel Stern point blank in the face with a BB-gun and blowtorched Joe Pesci’s skull, among many other potentially more lethal acts. The little boy smirked and carried out his punishment of the “Wet Bandits,” who, in hindsight, meant him no true harm and with the police and neighbors only a phone call away. Sure, when I think about it now, I know that John Hughes based his entire plot on the foiling of criminals by a little boy and that it is meant to be fun and cute, but when you boil it down, Kevin McCallister is my generation’s David Sumner.
In Straw Dogs, David Sumner creates a situation in which a few men, who, at the time, mean him no true harm and would simply be turned into trespassers inside his home. In protecting his home, he devises several sadistic tactics to maim his oppressors. With a pleasant, albeit slightly insane, smirk, David displays the violent and cruel nature of man. The movie’s end isn’t as triumphant as Home Alone’s, it actually paints a pretty grim picture. However, it doesn’t matter what scholarly essays say about the matter, or what Sam Peckinpah intended, when my father walked out of the UWM Union Theatre in 1971, he thought Dustin Hoffman was the good guy. He was the down and out weakling throughout the entire film, outmatched by any single member of the gang he fought. We want him to get revenge on the men who have been emasculating him. We want him to prove that he is a man and to stop being such a cowardly and passive victim. He’s our hero, damnit, and we want more from him.
It is obvious where the movie is heading from the start. David’s avoidance of confrontation with the men who have asserted their dominance over his home builds to a point where there must be direct confrontation. His inability to take action with words or lawful intervention against the hooligans and possibly prevent their transgressions against his home allows for creation of his final situation.
The argument behind this movie is that David does not truly prove his manhood, because his idea of what it takes to be a man are skewed and primitive. However, humans are primitive creatures at heart and dominance in the mastery of violence will always correlate to masculinity. At least a manly David Sumner is a character we can get behind. His outbursts of outrageous, cruel, and unnecessary violence in the final scenes of the film do not deflect the empathy of the audience. He is the kid who has to prove himself against the bullies, just as much as Kevin McCallister. Both have fairly infantile views on adult responsibility, but it’s their situation as an underdog and emphatic dominance displayed in the face of greater size and years that earns them our kudos.
Such an emergent fury in the face of adversity also comes into play at the climatic end of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. William Munny is a sad and sorry character who does not fit in the world of a western genre film. His stance against violence and bible thumping does not make him an appropriate protagonist in for the audience of western films. It’s hard to understand and relate to the man. His final conflict is not nearly as contrived as that of the two previously mentioned heroes, but it echoes similar feelings. The centerpieces of Straw Dogs and Home Alone do not take place when David is backing down and not when Kevin is crying for his mommy, they both take place during violent bids for dominance. The most important scene in Unforgiven is the shootout between Munny and Little Bill’s men, at which time Eastwood reasserts himself as the cold-blooded killer of his youth. His masculinity is restored and he gains a measure of revenge and then some, but we do not fault him for it because he is our hero and we are behind him. He did not need to ride back into town and walk into that saloon, but he created that situation for himself so he could take lives. He is definitely not a good guy, but he is a lot more entertaining and fulfilling than the part of his character that was. Munny’s final reply Little Bill rings true as it relates to the film audience’s feelings too. Little Bill may not deserve to die, but “deserves got nothing to do with it.” It does not matter who truly deserves to be punished or in what fashion, all that matters is that we have been pushed in the corner of Clint Eastwood since the first bell, but now we are cheering because he is wielding a Spencer Rifle, killing people left and right – like a true badass.
Eastwood practically trademarked the master of violence character in the Leone trilogy and in High Plains Drifter. He never misses his mark. He deals death and pain to those in his way, yet he is once again portraying the champion. In High Plains Drifter, he shoots down three men who are harassing him. His actions are not a question of self-defense and they rarely are. He takes everything these men and everything they will ever be from them and he does not look back.
How can we cheer for a man like that? Well, it is because he has been established as our central character, his opponents are scummy, and he carries out his actions like an ace. Apply the same formula to the Culkin character in Home Alone, and you have a super fan favorite. Even forgetting the immense likeability of a child, he is our central character, his adversaries are slimey, and he’s just so damn good at inflicting pain. His shots with an air rifle land precisely where they mean to (mid-forehead and scrotum), the nail he carefully placed finds its way into Marv’s foot, and he swings paint cans with deadly accuracy at the faces of both intruders. He is a master of violence if I have ever seen one. Every careful scheme he devises works in his favor and it all results in the eventual capture of the antagonists. No matter what he did to two undeserving men, or what sick thoughts entered his mind while coming up with ways to torment the burglars he expected instead of calling on someone who could help, he is still a smiling, innocent child who weeps in the arms of his mother in the end. What an interesting dichotomy, the two sides of Kevin McCallister. Eastwood may have never wept in the arms of his mother before he shot her dead, just as the Culkin character never raped a woman for being impolite (that we know of), he is just such a badass that we have to love him. He does not have the universal popularity of a kid, but he has attitude. The protagonists of both respective movies rely on their attitude and deadly accuracy to maintain the favor of the audience.
Many of the films we watched in class make comments about how we watch violent media. Funny Games seems to say that what the audience wants is for the charismatic characters to prevail and for the prolongation of violent scenes. As illogical as the boy’s acts are in the end part of Home Alone, we want him to continue his antics because we like the character and it is a satisfying and entertaining course of action. The likeability of Kevin is eerily reflected in Funny Game’s primary antagonist, Paul. Both are boyishly charming, always smiling, mostly cool, and moderately aware of their part within a film. They both carry and decide the course of the film and we follow them along for the ride. Kevin McCallister makes more trouble for the Wet Bandits than is truly necessary because the audience derives entertainment in it, Paul continues to play with the feelings of his victims and deny them escape or retaliation because under the circumstances it just does not seem necessary, nor do we truly want to watch our movie guide and his partner get gunned down. Through Paul, we are allowed the ability to rewind and change the actions perpetrated in part of the film that we did not enjoy.
Soon after Kevin’s family abandons him for France, he is plopped in front of the television watching a VHS of a fictional gangster flick Angels with Filthy Souls. After a scene of bloodshed, Kevin seemes scared and pauses the film. However, he could not have been that bothered by it for he utilizes it cleverly and effectively to scare off burglars and an unsuspecting pizza guy, rather unnecessarily. He used the gruff film dialogue to give the appearance of tough grown ups living in the house, which makes sense in terms of the Bandits because it momentarily makes them apprehensive about breaking in to the house. The pizza guy was an innocent victim, Kevin had no reason to not buy directly from him, and he paid him accordingly. The little boy simply gets his jollies tormenting people and because he enjoys it; we enjoy it, too. He uses the television as a weapon just as the creators of Videodrome do. They use the allure of violent media to hurt those that they deem to be weak members of society because they watch it. Watching the enticingly illicit images of Videodrome turn the film’s protagonist into an assassin.
The same is argued about violent media today. Many think that watching such things can cause us to commit the deeds carried about within them. As an American child, Kevin McCallister’s interests already lie within the realm of violence when left with no parental restrictions. He picks out a movie that was deemed too violent for him to watch by his parents and he watches it, he is then driven towards playing with his brother’s pellet gun. When using the violent film’s context to scare away visitors, Kevin is shown emulating its brutal villain. Later on, he continues to reflect the antagonist by gunning down and repeatedly berating his attackers. The violent film obviously had some effect on how the boy thinks it is appropriate to conduct one’s self, specifically while in potential danger. It does not quite turn him into an assassin, but it makes him dangerous and prone to violence at an alarmingly young age.

Apocalypse Now: A Journey into the Primitive

For years after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Hollywood mostly refused to comment through depictions of it on film. Since opinions on the war were so varied and the public so split, there was no conclusive way to attack a Vietnam Combat Film. How could they truthfully reflect what went on there? Would they be forced into pro-war or anti-war sentiment? Would a single aspect or account be satisfactory in creating Vietnam? No single war story is going to ring true to every honest experience of the war. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979, Vietnam epic, Apocalypse Now, is not about something that anyone experienced during the war; it was about the experience of Vietnam. Coppola himself said, “It is Vietnam” (Woodman 103). Such a statement may seem pretentious, but his claim isn’t far off. The film is about the journey into darkness that must accompany war, an often confirmed idea. The events that lie within represent accurately the idea of primitive madness as a necessary component in war. Such an element cannot be put into frame within the confines of a truthful or literal war film. Coppola sticks to the thinking that “those that capably aspire to represent it accept the imperative that fictions must be used to tell the truth” (McInerney 11).
The story of the film revolves around the mission of one Captain Willard. Willard is sent by his superiors on a confidential mission into Cambodia to exterminate the command of a Colonel who is described by them as “unsound”. This Colonel, Walter E. Kurtz, is seen as having lost his mind because of the brutal and illegal tactics he implements. As Willard’s journey continues he finds himself “unaccountably sympathizing with the man he was assigned to kill” (Steier 3). The men who sent him on his mission, his boat crew, Lt. Kilgore, and practically every soldier depicted within pushes him closer to Kurtz’s mindset.
Over the course of the film many characters lose themselves to the horrors and insanity of this primitive war, but Willard is able to survive through his acceptance of it. He is a visibly disturbed individual in the opening scenes of the film. He flails around wildly drunk, taking in very few of the amenities that his hotel room provides him, save for the alcohol. The narration of his mindset has him still in the jungle with the enemy, as if he had never truly returned to humanity. His actions are reminiscent of a wild animal that has been caged.
It takes the forceful hand of a group of officers and a quick shower to shake him back into reality. This was to be short-lived as his assigned mission unleashes him again into the wild of Vietnam. The men who assign him the mission have never had to face the war. They are calm, cool, and collected, with clear convictions about the way war should be conducted. Theses men represent an important part of Coppola’s thinking, that “civilization is the mask the animals wear to hide his true nature”, which to many is perhaps, “the greatest evil of all” (Steier 8).
These men are barely at odds with Vietnam. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore is another one of these characters. His ability to crush VC villages with his cavalry of helicopters keeps things fairly stress free for him. The war hardly seems to faze him. Bombs hit less than ten feet from him and he doesn’t even flinch. When the fighting has finished and he’s acquired the proper waves for surfing. Charlie doesn’t surf, like these men. Later on, Willard also exclaims, “Charlie doesn’t get no USO”. These distractions for the soldiers to make them feel more at home are frowned upon by Willard, for they distract from the cruel war being waged. If they were sent into the thick of the war, they would fail as soldiers, as our Nation did, because they lack the proper mindset for war.
An episode with the highly strung character, Chef, illustrates a prominent theme in Apocalypse Now. After smoking some pot, he tells Willard that he wants to venture into the jungle to collect some mangoes. While out in the thick of things, he discusses his life before the war. Then out of the darkness of the forest a tiger charges the men. They shoot at it and run. Chef is particularly shaken by this. He proceeds to carry on hysterically, “don’t fucking get out of the boat!” This crew is not allotted the same comforts as Kilgore’s men. They can’t make the war like home, even talking about home while out in the jungle gets the men into trouble. The tiger is there to remind them exactly where they are; the wild. Chef can smoke pot while in the boat, but he can’t have the mangoes he desires. This instance displays the boat as a symbol of separation from the war. The men don’t want to get out of the boat and let their states of mind wander into the primitive jungle. By the end of the film, all the men in Willard’s crew will have gotten out of their respective boats, most do not survive.
A prime example of men who have gotten off the boat is described in Brian J. Woodman’s essay Images of African American Soldiers in Vietnam War Combat Films. Part of this essay describes the nature of the African American soldiers our protagonists meet at the Do Lung Bridge. The character of Roach is particularly examined. He is focused on the kill and calm despite the hectic conditions that surround him, he carries a grenade launcher painted with tiger stripes; he also dons war paint and a necklace of teeth. These elements are obviously meant to portray the character as an African warrior. While at war, Roach has reverted to a primitive part of his history, to a time when his ancestors were a part of the wild that now surrounds him (p.102). This wild seems to be consuming the sanity of others present at the bridge, chipping away at whatever civility may remain. If they do not become like Roach, then they will not survive.
It is also around this time that Lance begins to slip from his former self. To help cope with the madness around him, he inflicts another sort of madness upon himself through the use of acid. He carries and shields a puppy as he crouches and slips through the forces at the bridge, watching everything in awe. From this point on, Lance seems lost in the nature he has come to accept. He is a part of it even more as the story commences, presumably without the influence of anymore psychoactive substances. This attitude keeps him alive while the members of his crew drop like flies, it even allows him to thrive amongst the natives in Kurtz’s compound.
The last stop of boat comes at Colonel Kurtz’s compound. This is where the idea of the boat as a safety net is completely stripped away. The natives in the area hurl spears at the boat, killing both Clean and Chief Phillips, who clung to their senses of ethnicity and to the comforts of home. Clean is even listening to a tape from his mother when he is struck down. This just goes to show that the notion of home has no place in Vietnam. “The Chief on the boat is killed by a spear, (the jungle reconquers the urban ghetto)…” (Steier 8) The primitive inhabitants of the area even have their own boats. With them they create a barrier in the middle of the river that Willard and his remaining men must part to get to Kurtz. They are allowed through; this signifies the moment when they become completely immersed in nature. Whether they are in it geographically in the boat or not, makes no difference. Chef even meets his demise while waiting in the boat. The primitive creature that is Colonel Kurtz emerges from the jungle to brutally decapitate him; the jungle is now everywhere, and those who do not accept it will die.
Upon arrival, the photojournalist is the first man the crew meets. He is a wild man, obsessed with Kurtz’s dogma. He responds to Willard’s looks of disgust with only mild embarrassment, explaining that Kurtz’s sometimes goes too far. This man has seen the true brutality associated with war and is insane because of it. He is meant, as a journalist, to bring the truth about the war to the people, but he will never do that. It’s the truth that caused his meltdown and binds him to the compound. He will never tell his story about his descent into primitive madness, but others will tell their less than truthful stories. The cameo by Coppola himself, filming the attack by Kilgore’s cavalry, shows him setting up a shot and telling Willard not to look at the camera; this is the representation of the war that is shown to the masses. The story of this man seems to reflect the idea that a truthful representation of war is unattainable by those who did not experience it.
The man representing the truth about war is the epitome of madness, Colonel Kurtz. In a passionate speech made to Willard shortly before releasing him, Kurtz recalls events that lead him to Cambodia. He tells of a village his men were sent to inoculate and how the Vietcong amputated every arm they touched soon after their departure. It was upon seeing this that he knew victory was impossible. The horrors of war would continue for eternity if he didn’t aim to become more primitive and ruthless than the enemy. He brought it upon himself to bring an end to the war. To do this he would need to “utilize primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment because it’s judgment that defeats us.” Yes, the evolved brain’s capacity for judgment was the greatest enemy.
Kurtz told Willard to tell his son what he tried to do. He was proud of what he attempted to do and was sound in his reasons for it, but he knew that the madness had won out and that he had failed. In accordance with his mission and with Kurtz’s own desire, Willard returned to the compound under the cover of darkness and slaughtered him “. The scene in which he does this cuts back and forth between another scene of a water buffalo being slaughtered for sacrifice or food. Both deaths are brutal and very real. Kurtz no longer wants to live and wills his own death because of the pain caused by his constant primitive mindset. His last words reflect the life he has been living with, “the horror…the horror”.
Willard then leaves the compound with no opposition from Kurtz’s legion. They actually throw down their weapons, welcoming him as their new leader. Willard resists this temptation, refusing to fall victim to his own primordial desire for power, and leaves with fellow survivor, Lance. He is out of the madness and into his boat, where he proceeds to shut off the radio, his only means of communication. Willard is no longer in the jungle but also he, “wasn’t in their damn army anymore”, because the army was ill equipped to deal with war based on their morals inability to accept the brutality of war. He will never be capable of going back to his civilized self because his mind will always echoes the horrors he saw.
With all the themes of Apocalypse Now it’s only appropriate that Francis Ford Coppola nearly lost his own mind during shooting. He fought with his actors, lost an unhealthy amount of weight, his marriage nearly ended, he nearly went bankrupt, and he threatened to kill himself on set. Trying to reflect the truth about war in his film nearly drove him into madness. The truth about war, or at least his version of it, was madness - a mental slip into the primitive. He accomplishes a representation of this in the film with severe consequences to himself and his crew. Many of the events in the film as well as the situations surrounding it show madness in truth. To see the truth about war, we in the audience don’t need to see representations of war or war stories; we need to see the insanity of war.

Works Cited

McInerney, Peter. "Apocalypse Then: Hollywood Looks Back at Vietnam". Film Quarterly. University of California Press, 1980.
Steier, Saul. "Make Friends with Horror and Terror: Apocalypse Now". Social Text. Duke University Press, 1980.
Woodman, Brian J. “Images of African American Soldiers in Vietnam War Comb
Films.” The War Film. Ed. Robert Eberwein. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Up, 2005.

The Language of Alien

I’m just writing words now. This is my paper. How are you doing? These statements are not terribly important, but what is important is that you, no doubt, can understand them. The first two sentences are simple. They have easily identifiable subjects and predicates and they conclude where there is a period. The third sentence is a question because it is phrases as one and concludes with a question mark. Understanding what a person is verbally saying is an even more automatic process. Sounds come out of the mouths of people in our aural range and we recognize them as words that then become a string of words which make a sentence. These processes have become natural to us through years of exposure to the written and spoken word and an education in grammar. We require similar processes when watching a film. Films speak to their audiences through the use of various elements, such as setting, conflict, characters etc., but there are rules governing what elements can be used within a particular film. In a sense, film possesses its own grammar and the use of this grammar dictates to us the kind of film we are watching. Through exposure to film, the common audience has gained an understanding of film grammar similar to our understanding of English grammar. We use this knowledge every time we watch a film, so that we can place films into genres and understand them within that context. Some films follow the rules of the horror genre and we recognize them as horror films, some films follow the rules of the science fiction genre and we recognize them as horror films and so on. Some films, however, transgress these rules, picking and choosing which rules to follow from conflicting grammar systems. These films can simultaneously be part of multiple genres. A select few films actually take this idea of cooperating genres one step further, to the point of genre cohesion. Ridley Scott’s 1979 film, Alien, is one such film. It uses rules that govern the science fiction genre and rules that govern the horror genre in such a way that they don’t stand out separately, but actually rely on each other to help the movie make sense. When Alien speaks to us, it is not doing so as both science fiction and horror, it is science fiction horror, a genre all its own, with its own grammar and rules.
Even before I discuss the film itself, I’d like to make a point using Alien’s marketing. Trailers, tv spots, and posters are used to create marketing campaigns for films. These things give us a taste of what their film will be like, get us excited, and, if they’re successful, they’ll get you into a theater near you. What these campaigns also do is give people expectations. Audiences are given a general idea on how the film is going to speak to them, which helps them decide whether they’d like to see it or not. All these advertisement tools usually share one thing; a tagline. The tagline is a phrase that production companies engineer to sum up their film and the experience of viewing it. Alien has one of the most memorable taglines in film history: “In space, no one can hear you scream”. In this simple sentence, two words stand out; space and scream. Audiences associate space with science fiction as it is a standard setting of the genre. The word scream is a clear indicator of horror, for why else would one scream? It indicates that this film will merit screaming as some point, so it must be scary. The rest of the tagline suggests more though. It is an important fact that no one can hear you scream in space because it adds space to the horrific equation. Space is a cold place where you are alone and no one can help you, it makes the prospect of having something to scream about even scarier. So, even Alien’s tagline suggests science fiction and horror as one.
The horror genre lends its characters to Alien. The six men and woman in this are not characters that fit into the typical sci-fi movie, especially in 1979. They are blue- collar workers for an interstellar mining company and their job is to bring back a boring cargo. They are not astronauts or futuristic military, outfitted in slick uniforms, brandishing laser cannons. They are the type of regular people more often affected by horror films. Their presence in this film allow for more meaning to be added to the cultural conflict of the science fiction film, which is determining the limits and value of human knowledge and scientific experimentation (Schatz 700). For instance, the workers must deal with the seventh crew member, Ash, who is an artificial human (android). He represents a scientific replacement, something that could render them obsolete. Ash works against the crew for the preservation of the alien specimen because he is programmed to do so. So, a machine like him might be deemed more useful because he can be fully manipulated by the people in charge. The crew has to work against the alien as Ash tries to hinder them because the survival of the alien is also deemed more important than the crew. They are fighting the fact that advances in science are worth human lives.
Among the characters there is one who is even more at home in a horror film than sci-fi; Ellen Ripley. She fits the horror film construction of the “the last girl”, who escapes danger and survives to the end because she is more aware than her friends. Ripley is cited as the first strong heroine, even though Halloween’s Laurie Strode pre-dates her. Her character seems more important because of the last girl type entering the world of science fiction. In this world, she is forced to deal with larger issues, namely the conflict that Schatz describes above. When Kane returns to the ship with an alien attached to his face, she is the only one who is against letting him in. She is taking an active interest in her survival against science. The other crew would rather just use science to help Kane and deal with the consequences later. This parallels the stories of many horror heroines. Laurie Strode survives Halloween night and the psychopath, Michael Myers, because she maintains a sense of awareness throughout the film, while her friends get caught up in sex and fail to see the knife drop. Ripley’s entire crew is eradicated. They are punished because they failed to consider the consequences of their actions with Kane. Apart from surviving the alien, Ripley is also forced to deal with Ash, who represents the threat of science, in a very horror inspired scene. Ash startles Ripley from behind just when she is discovering his plans. He then proceeds to attack her and attempts to exfixiate her. Ripley is completely helpless against his attack and when her crew comes to her aid, they are useless in pulling him off. Ash, in this respect, is very similar to Michael Myers and Jason. His attack on Ripley was a slow stalking and he was impervious to any attack thrown at him. Like all the other last girls, Ripley narrowly survives the attack and thwarts her pursuers.
What sci-fi lends to the horror genre in Alien is the use of space. Space as a setting distances the characters from anyone who might be able to help. It is a cold, lonely and empty setting that, without proper equipment, no human being can experience. One of the proper pieces for experiencing space is a spaceship, which is a consummate favorite of the sci-fi genre. The ship in Alien, however, is more suited for the horror genre. It is not some high-tech wonder made of shiny metal, decorated in blinking lights. The Nostromo is a mining ship. Its interior has a very cold, industrial look, complete with heavy moisture and steam spewing pipes. This environment gives the alien more places to hide, which allows for a more slasher film feel since the alien isn’t out in front of the camera being accosted by lasers under low-contrast lighting. The alien reaches out and snatches his victims from behind the dark corners that the ship allows. The set was even designed by Swiss painter H.R. Giger, whose primary work has been in creating nightmarish dream-scapes. As the film progresses, the Nostromo essentially becomes a coffin because within it the alien is sure to kill you, but outside it, the deep, dark vastness of space is staring back at you to remind you of how helpless you are. Space contains the horror and magnifies it.
The alien menace is certainly a science fiction concept. Men have been fighting with these aliens within the comfort of the genre for years. The xenomorph present in this film is a completely different animal. Its design was also brought to you by the painter mentioned above, H.R. Giger. The alien as an adult appears predominantly black in color, similar in cast to heavily tarnished silver. It has an elongated shiny head with no eyes. Below, the jaw holds the razor-sharp metal teeth. The mouth houses a tongue-like body part with a second mouth on the end. This was certainly a most frightening presentation of an alien at the time. Its head, tail, and elongated jaw are phallic imagery that are coupled with the alien’s overall feminine figure to create an androgynous monster (Kuhn 187). Such presentations are often present in horror, which enjoys redrawing gender lines. This creature is also cited as the beginning of the body-horror genre, which includes most of David Cronenberg’s films. The alien we fear came from within. In possibly the film’s most horrific scene, the alien bursts from Kane’s chest at the dinner table. This brings to mind conflicts present in both horror and sci-fi, which typically show their face in the body-horror genre. Often in horror, we fear the other; we fear even more the potential of becoming an other ourselves (Sobchack 175). There is a great terror in what can come from inside. The alien is a outer manifestation of the terror within. The alien is also a reminder of the problems inherent in scientific experimentation, since Kane became a host for this new, frightening humanity to be born from.
According to Vivian Sobchack, the genres of horror and science fiction have typically been opposed to one another because both deal with different forms of chaos. Horror is forced to deal with moral chaos and the disruption of God’s order, while sci-fi is more concerned with social chaos. The two genres in their contemporary state begin with Rosemary’s Baby and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which are prime examples of horror and science fiction chaos (Sobchack 177). Alien is the child of these quintessential films. In it, we are forced to fear what grows within us (like in Rosemary’s Baby) and we grow wary of the advances of science that may become dangerous (like HAL in 2001). Moral issues and social issues come to a head in Alien. - check out the badass original trailer

Works Cited

Kuhn, Annette. Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema. New York: , 1990.
Schatz, Thomas. "Film Genre and Genre Film". Hollywood Genres. New York: Oxford University Pres, 2004.
Sobchack, Vivian. "Family Economy and Generic Exchange". Camera Obscura 175-177.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: A Turning Point for British Cinema

The British New Wave of the late 50’s and early 60’s was short-lived, but its impact on the direction of British Cinema and cinema today is doubtless. Karel Reisz’s 1960 film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, marked a change in kind of film being produced in Britain. Its style and themes deviated greatly from British post-war film and they shook up the scene. Countless scenes of people simply talking, talking to each other instead of a camera, in places where people actually talked instead of a back lot, made it all seem real. The lives and conditions of the working class were on display and an openness about sexuality and sexual relationships was being developed. The film also thoroughly examines the trap of the commoner; to become the man his father was before him. This was a bleak assessment, but it put it out there for everyone to see and to acknowledge the fact that it was indeed bleak. The film’s impact reflects Albert Finney’s sentiments from within it, “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not”. To the angry young men, life in Britain and life on film where something completely different from what people said they were. A cultural change had been slowly crawling across Britain for a decade. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning brings this fact into national awareness and in the process it enhances as well as intensifies the change for film and for Britain.
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning concerns the story of one Arthur Seaton. Arthur is a brash youth who spends his days in a factory and his nights in the pub. He sneaks around with the wife of a fellow worker, gets falling-down drunk and shoots pellets at the backside of a nosy neighbor. All the silly laws of society are simply for blokes like him to break. His married girlfriend gets pregnant and just in time for him to find new love interest. He feigns sincerity with her and makes halfhearted attempts at providing her with an abortion. A serious beating awaits Arthur for his lecherous misdeeds, but he merely shrugs it off. Even while lying in bed convalescing, he’s still smug. When he recovers, things pick up between him and his new girlfriend, Doreen. The idea of marriage eventually comes up and surprisingly Arthur is resigned to it. He still has fight in him though, or so he claims. He may end up like his parents, but at least he has a bad attitude about it. In the end, he’s throwing stones at a line of houses when Doreen remarks, “Maybe one of those houses will be for us…you shouldn’t throw things like that.” To which Arthur replies, “It won’t be the last one I throw.” The film received an X Certificate rating by the British Board of Censors (meaning that it was suitable for those aged 16 or over) for its depictions of sex, alcohol consumption, bad language, and violence (Marwick 149).
To contemporary audiences, this film might not seem all that explicit. A film like this might not even carry an R rating in the U.S. today. However, to understand the severity of the films impact, one must understand what was being produced in Britain prior to its release. In his article about the cultural revolution in Britain, Arthur Marwick describes the British Film Industry as being “…never far from terminal crisis” (128). Most of the films coming out of Britain in the mid-fifties were B-quality crime dramas and intended comedies. English literary adaptations and war films were also popular in this period. The overflow of these genres of film post-WWII was to be expected. They all either took audiences’ minds off the seriousness of the period or injected more national pride in either their war efforts or literary accomplishments. Also, television had actually surpassed film as the most popular entertainment medium of the era.
What was seriously lacking in this time were films that had any relevance to the social changes occurring in Britain. In the last years of the decade, writers known as Angry Young Men published plays and books illustrating the contemporary social climate. The rights to these works were quickly snatched up by companies made eager by their success. The rights to Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning were purchased by Woodfall Films, a company started primarily with the purpose of allowing angry voices of the working class to express themselves. The ability of the working class to tell their stories had increased in this period due to an increase in their wages. Factory pay in the mid-fifties nearly doubled. This new, expendable income gave independent filmmakers of these areas the proper funding to make themselves known. Woodfall films selected one such individual to helm the adaptation of Sillitoe’s novel, Karel Reisz (Marwick 127-129, 141). Reisz had garnered a great deal of respect for his documentaries We Are the Lambeth Boys and Momma Don’t Allow. “They were best remembered for their handling of England’s lower-class moods and faces…” (Sutherland 58). He brought his abilities and documentary style to the production of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, creating something yet unseen in British Cinema and changing it forever.
A great deal of praise for the film came from it’s use of dialogue. Instead of having the actors speak to the camera and creating the illusion of conversation through editing, they are shown speaking to each other. This is an example of Reisz’s documentary style filmmaking coming into play. People talk to each other in real life, they don’t pretend to. Arthur and Brenda lay in Brenda’s husband’s bed talking about sex and their relationship, without any shame or mollification. Depictions of their affair and the dialogue concerning it are not restrained, they are done as if a camera wasn’t even present. The focus is reality.
There isn’t a whole lot to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning except the people. There’s nothing distracting us from the focus of the reality. It’s about a man and the people who cohabitate Nottingham, working in factories, having children, and growing old. This black and white feature includes a great deal of existing places, as a great deal of it was filmed on location in Nottingham (wikipedia). People could watch this film and say, “hey, I live ‘round the corner from that factory…or that pub!” They could also say, “Hey, I’m a person too! And I reside in Nottingham!” The film reflected a part of working class England.
The character of Arthur Seaton reflects the youth of the area. We get an in depth look into the mind and issues of the laborer with inner monologues in which Arthur sums up his feeling on the conditions around him. Such mottos as “Don’t let the Bastards grind you down” and “I’m out for a good time, all the rest is propaganda” spew forth from the angry voice inside his head. He seems to think that he’s not a part of this society, he believes that there’s a lot more to life than what his parents got.
These sentiments resonated with the youth of the times as well as the old. All old men were young men once with the foolish minds of young men, but such brash talk is futile. Arthur gets caught up in the trap of the working class just as almost everyone does. He isn’t even done in by any particular event. His wild ways aren’t curtailed by the fact that he got a married woman pregnant. He laughs the whole situation off as it’s not his problem. A cliché could have formed from the beating he took courtesy of the betrayed husband. Surely, this would set Arthur straight. Not so, Arthur is accepting the beating he took as one in a future of potential beatings. As soon as he can stand, he’s up and boozing at the pub. He spends a bit more time with his girl Doreen and he’s open, but not overly enthusiastic to the idea of marriage. His demeanor seems to say, “why not?” In the end, there are some rumblings from Arthur about throwing more stones in the future as if he wasn’t giving in to a life not unlike his parents’. Just because he’s going down grudgingly doesn’t mean he’s not going down.
Pauline Kael posed a question of the films ending after its release, “…what kind of future can the hero have when the movie is over but to fall into the stinking stupor of his parents, get drunk, quarrel with his wife, and resign himself to bringing up little working-class brats?” (11). I agree with Ms. Kael in that this is a fairly bleak ending for Arthur Seaton. However, this is a step forward in the fact that film is acknowledging this pessimistic trend of the working class. Kael points out again the sorry state of our hero in with the observation that which Arthur has no real economic or intellectual push to escape his environment (12). To me, this adds to the final moral of the story: you can gripe, fight and sneer all you like, but that’s not going to alter your destiny. If you belonged to the working class of the 50’s and 60’s, you had to make some attempt at elevating yourself, or be stuck where you are. Karel Reisz worked his way out of it to the point where he was able to make a film about it, Arthur Seaton just worked.
The brand of social realism apparent in this film would go on to create the British New Wave. A characteristic of these films was the X certificate rating they earned. Such certificates were rare in the 50’s. No film was worthy of one in the first years of the decade and only 3 pushed the limit in ’56, but by 1961, 16 films contained material characteristic of the wave. Never before had such explicit material, all reflecting the truths about the changing society, been a part of British Cinema. Previously, overt sexuality and violence were only staples of international (primarily French) cinema. This break from conservative storytelling sparked a whole decade of films that gave priority to realism instead of simple substance (Billy Liar (1963), The Knack (1965), Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)), initiating change in British Society along the way (Marwick 127, 148-149).

Born from Orientalism: Jopi Nyman takes a look at The Jungle Book

Several months ago, I was on a Disney nostalgia kick. When I was bored, I’d put on Peter Pan, The Sword and the Stone or Robin Hood. I didn’t feel much of a need to revisit any of the other classics until one gloomy day when I stumbled upon The Jungle Book. I wasn’t quite sure if I would get through it. All I could remember was that oafish bear singing that irritating “Bear Necessities” song, but as I watched it, my respect for it grew. I thought those monkeys want to be men!; Shere Khan hates mankind; and How will Mowgli be able to enter civilization?. There were ideas there; I just didn’t know quite what to make of them. Over the next few days, my mind just kept coming back to The Jungle Book, so I went out to the store and bought Rudyard Kipling’s classic work of literature on which the child’s cartoon is based. Upon reading The Jungle Book and its companion pieces of The White Seal and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, I started to get a feel for what Kipling was trying to accomplish. It wasn’t long after that I read Edward Said’s intro to his book Orientalism. I said aloud to myself while reading, “oh, I bet people have a big problem with The Jungle Book. I was even a bit apprehensive about looking up scholarly analysis of the book, for fear of the scathing commentary I’d most likely find. I was right to be. It turns out, people do have a big problem with The Jungle Book.
One of those people is Jopi Nyman PhD, Senior Researcher of English at Joensuu University. In his article, “Re-Reading Rudyard Kipling’s ‘English’ Heroism: Narrating Nation in The Jungle Book”, Nyman examines the roles of the animal characters in relation to the master-servant relationships of colonized India. This article excites comparison to Viswanathan’s intro to Masks of Conquest through its concentration on colonial India and the power of language. Nyman could also be likened to Achebe because he too examines the colonizer’s fear of the colonized and takes offense to gross misrepresentations of culture. However, Nyman’s closest connection is to the work of Edward Said, specifically his book Orientalism. Nyman adopts Said’s idea of the Other being present in English literature as a tool for possessing their colonized culture. This article seems to give us an insight into the history of Kipling’s India while closely reading the various ideas and symbols present in the novel, however, its viewpoint is more specific. “Re-Reading Rudyard Kipling…” comes from the viewpoint of post-colonial theory. It takes its aim at specifically examining the cultural legacy of the English colonial rule in India apparent in The Jungle Book.
In Nyman’s article, he quickly separates the animal characters into two very basic categories: the good and the bad (p.208). The good, comprised of the wolf pack, Baloo, and Rikki-Tikki are the creatures that follow the laws of the jungle and serve the hierarchies of power. These animals represent the civilized native. They know where they stand in relation to man, representing (and often portrayed by) the ruling English. Man dominates animal and animals would do best to obey the rules that maintain this relationship. The mongoose, Rikki Tikki, even goes out of his way to directly serve England by protecting a white family from deadly cobras. The bad animals, consisting of the aforementioned cobras, mad monkeys, Kaa the Python, and Shere Khan the tiger are those that do not follow the rules. They seek to subvert the laws of the jungle, which would potentially call man’s attention (punishment) to them and the jungle. These two groups are the colonial others and the native others.
Of these characters, Shere Khan is described as the most militant, full of native ferocity, spouting anti-colonialist rhetoric and challenging their rule with threats of man-eating (208): “Give him to me…He has troubled the jungle for ten seasons…He is a man, a man’s child, and from the marrow of my bones, I hate him.” (Kipling 34). So, while running with the bad animals, Khan also leads into the idea of colonial fear. Nyman quotes a Sujit Mukharajee piece about the use of the tiger is English literature, calling it “some enduring spirit of India that the British feel they had failed to subjugate” (209). The animals of the book depend on the subjugation of other animals to keep themselves safe from men, but the men also rely on this relationship to avoid insurrection. They fear and hunt Shere Khan because can disrupt their relationship through his violent transgressions.
There is also a fear of madness expressed in the book through episodes with the monkeys and Kaa (Kipling 68). The monkeys try to act like men, but are easily seduced by Kaa’s dance, after which they are in his power. This suggests a potential to go native, or lose your humanity in savage surroundings. Such themes are present in Acbebe’s denouncement of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “An Image of Africa”. In it, he exposed the fact Conrad’s use of wild Africans and their wild continent to explain why a man like Kurtz would go insane and why Marlow should fear the same fate. Kipling expresses a similar cautiousness in regards to a dark continent full of dark people, but his fears primarily extend only to the colonial Others and not the colonizing man. As a man, Mowgli is immune to Kaa’s hypnotism, suggesting that the colonizer should be immune to such seduction, but there is still fear concerning the reversion of your colonized subjects (215).
Another prominent issue in the Nyman article is language. In The Jungle Book, language is a useful tool of the colonizer (214). Mowgli is a fulfillment of the colonist’s dream as he manages to master the many native tongues of the jungle’s animals. With this knowledge, he can control and manipulate the whole jungle. This should be the aim of the colonizer; learn the languages of the colonized and use it against them as a way of taking their language from them. It brings them to light more, for they are no longer able to hide behind it. In Mowgli’s utilization of languages, he oversees the entire jungle and puts it under the jurisdiction of man. These ideas are reminiscent of Gauri Viswanathan’s in the intro to Masks of Conquest. In it, Viswanathan examines the use of the English language as an imperial tool in India. With this mastery of language the British could eventually implant their own language and begin to exert a kind of cultural/intellectual dominance over the native people and effectively add it to their collection.
However, as mentioned before, Nyman’s work most reflects that of Edward Said, who, through his book Orientalism, founded the ground on which post-colonial theory walks. Said exposed, in great detail, the need of imperial nations (namely the English) to create their own false accounts of the Orient. Through doing this, they would somehow manage to possess the culture of their colonized subjects. In their accounts, the English would belittle the significance of native cultures and make themselves look superior. They could then sell this image back to the native to justify their occupation of their lands. Then they could send this image out across the oceans to let everyone know how strange, inhuman, and rightfully colonized these people are.
In The Jungle Book, India is a mystical land full of strange and curious creature characters. These creatures exemplify Said’s idea of the Other and Nyman uses the term in his article specifically. The characters meant to represent native people are portrayed by animals (206). Nyman’s work doesn’t get much easier than this. The native and colonized people are represented by animals to distance readers from their humanity, or perhaps, to convince them of their lack of it. Animals are not to be trusted, save for the occasional trustworthy mongoose. They are often conniving and pose a threat to the stability of the power hierarchies of the oh-so aptly represented colonial British. The English are played by man because it is they who possess the dignity and intelligence of true humanity. “Thus the animal may function in the manner of the stereotypical native, cunning, untrustworthy and not quite human” (207). Kipling sold this idea to the world through one of the most popular books ever written. Everyone who read it was able to see, at least on a subconscious level, that India was controlled by a varied group of deadly and eccentric animals that the holy British meant dominate for their own good.
“Re-Reading Rudyard Kipling’s ‘English’ Heroism: Narrating Nation in The Jungle Book” by Jopi Nyman belongs in the post-colonial canon. It is a ripe example of post-colonial theory in practice. On the surface, Kipling’s The Jungle Book, is a fantastical tale of a young boy being raised by animals until he must leave the jungle. He maintains strong friendships, encounters entertaining situations, and defeats a malicious antagonist. It’s a very good story and a thrilling read. Nyman looks past this and studies the book in the context that it was written by a proud Englishman during a time of colonialism about one of England’s most prominent colonies. How does the idea of imperialism and one country’s domination over another come into play? How are the colonized portrayed by the colonizer? What does the colonizer have to say about his actions? These are questions that Nyman probably asked himself in preparation for this article.
Is Nyman’s approach to The Jungle Book fair? As a fan of the story, it’s hard for me to say “yes”, just as it was hard for me to agree with Achebe’s position on Heart of Darkness. Nyman, however, is harder to swallow because it does not possess the venom of the Achebe article, but I still argue. Can’t you just appreciate it as a great work of literature and be done with it? Even for me though, this sentiment dies when reading the chapter/short story called “The White Seal”. In it, the white seals leave their land for greener pastures and come to settle on an island inhabited by darker, oafish sea-cows. The white seals take over the island as their own and are completely justified in doing so. This story does not possess the subtlety of the rest of Kipling’s Jungle Book, with all its well-constructed representations of colonial roles. The white seals have a right to any land they want because they are white and smart. The darky sea-cows are dominated because they are not white and subsequently not smart. To boil it down further (but surprisingly not that much further), British imperialism is good and completely justified.
Kipling wrote The Jungle Book to emphasize certain aspects of colonialism from the viewpoint of the colonizer. He reduced Indians to animals and showed us why they were unfit to govern themselves. Jopi Nyman can see the truth behind the truth behind the circus act. He takes a look at the classic and tries to put himself in Kipling’s shoes and asks “why?” The answers that follow are logical and informed, but not damning. Nyman’s purpose in this article was not to judge Rudyard Kipling, but to accomplish a post-colonial reading of his work. He succeeded.

Works Cited
Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. 2004. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics.

Nyman, Jopi. “Re-Reading Rudyard Kipling’s ‘English’ Heroism: Narrating Nation in The Jungle Book”. 2001. Denmark: Orbis Litterarum.

The Evolution of the Female Threat

The femme fatale is the most infamous female archetype in film history. In "Gender In Film Noir", Andrew Spicer introduces us to the character. A staple of the classic noir period, she was the prize and price for sexual liberation. Always with her foot in the shadows, the character type was seen as a dark reflection of the male protagonist. Such a reflection was one that needed to be subdued by the man to maintain the status quo (and maintain it they did). The femme fatale never survived to see the credits of a classic noir film (90-91). Neo-noir, however, offers a world of possibilities for her. The evolution of the genre has allowed this paradigm to step out into the light of day; here she is allowed to be her own woman. The state of contemporary sexual relations offers new tools, but also challenges. The resurrected figure of the femme fatale will have to be stronger, more cunning, and more intelligent if she wants to survive (and she does). She has learned from her mistakes and she won’t make them again. The history of classic noir is available to her, so she can respond to and/or rectify the images of her past self. The neo femme fatale is both a product of the world’s turning and a fluid commentary on the classical noir film.
One of the first women to crawl out from the shadows was Matty Walker in Body Heat (1981). She plays it straight for most of the film, acting as the desperate temptress who needs help from her man, just as her counterparts did in the past; but she doesn’t need him. As Foster Hirsch says in Detours and Lost Highways, “Matty needs only her powerful will and her body heat” (183). The revelation of Matty’s plan only starts to rear its head towards the film’s conclusion before exploding onscreen as Matty’s (or really Mary Ann Simpson’s) high school picture. Since her late teens, Matty has aspired to “be rich and live on an exotic island”. This knowledge forces us to realize that all her interactions with Ned were designed to lead up to the moment, at the film’s close, when she is indeed rich on an exotic island.
The classic femme fatale would have had trouble with Ned Racine. Their potential for sexual liberation would be lost on him as he already uninhibited. Matty’s utilizes her aggressive sexual demeanor instead to subdue him. She appeals directly to his hormones. Such behavior was not an option in the more patriarchal era of classic noir, but in Body Heat Ned actually compliments her on her ability to “keep on coming”. Ned is not concerned with keeping her feminine power in check. In hindsight, it is plain that Matty specifically selected Ned. She knew his sleazy history and his corruptible nature and upon meeting him, she learned that he was a horn dog. Matty displays an intelligence and a foresight previously unseen in the femme fatale. She doesn’t select a strong, helpful partner, she chooses a male she can manipulate and deceive with direct sexuality without fear of repercussion.
She is taking advantage of the new rules of gender relations while also commenting on the tragic history of her archetype. She isn’t going to allow herself to fail. She is highly organized and always ten steps ahead of everyone. Even supposed missteps, such as the stolen glasses or the will tampering, were her deliberate calculations. Such dedication, ruthlessness and flawlessness of execution had never been achieved by the femme fatale. Though the film played out the story of both Ned and Matty (oftentimes dominated by Ned), we realize, at the end, that the story was truly Matty’s; the end of the story of her grand scheme. She isn’t some dark reflection of Ned, he was below her; she’s her own person and a master of femininity. The depiction of her sunbathing is the realization of the long, unfulfilled dream of the femme fatale. Matty’s accomplishment stems from her ability to avoid the pitfalls of the classical role and bring it into the contemporary world.
What Matty starts off, Bridget finishes in The Last Seduction (1994). She is the fully developed female threat. Where Matty was only able to expose herself at the conclusion of Body Heat, The Last Seduction is entirely Bridget’s show (Hirsch 184-185). She is the primary protagonist of the film, yet she is a monster throughout. So comfortable is she in her manipulations that she openly exposes them to the audience. Little cues and smirks indicate to us when she is putting on a front for her victims. Spicer wrote that the classic femme fatale’s “enigmatic qualities stimulate the central narrative drive…” (Gender in Film Noir, 91), but Bridget possesses no enigmatic qualities. Instead, she is the central narrative drive. In her, the femme fatale becomes the story, no longer subjugated to the role of a narrative device.
Though Bridget orchestrates several schemes before the film’s end, she doesn’t plan the events that begin the plot. Her theft of Clay was the spontaneous response to his slapping her. The complete femme fatale does not allow herself to be punished, so she punishes back ten-fold, stealing his money and leaving him at the mercy of bad men. Bridget punishes men for various indiscretions that might lead to her downfall. She openly emasculates her employees, Clay and Mike throughout the film. The private eye aims to bring her back to Clay, but she uses her sexual cunning to send him flying through a car window. In the end, when Clay thinks he has her beat, she simply sprays mace down his throat, proving to be more of a threat than the loan shark he was so concerned with. When Mike finally becomes aware of the bad situation he’s in, Bridget is able to act on the fly to get him where she wants him. Using her superior sexual consciousness against his insecurities, she actually manages to get him to rape her. Bridget as the femme fatale has evolved far beyond the intense planning and flawless execution of Matty. She is always on; she is such an unstoppable force that she doesn’t even need to plan ahead to get the best of the men around her. Her actions bring to mind some vengeful spirit of femme fatales past. In Postmodern Film Noir, Spicer points out that while riding away in the limousine, Bridget seems completely content with herself, unlike Matty at the close of Body Heat (165). This suggests that the conscience of the femme fatale has been expunged, creating a more capable character type.
Bridget completes the journey of the femme fatale in numerous ways, but that doesn’t stop the archetype’s continued evolution. The title character of Jackie Brown (1997) functions as the femme fatale, but one that preys upon motivations in men that aren’t sexual. There is certainly an sexy side to Jackie Brown, but her power stems from never having to use it. In place of sex she has savvy, which she uses to convince everyone that she can get them what they want.
Jackie is also an easier character to get behind than her predecessors because her actions aren’t selfish and cruel. The need to punish the male characters for the crimes of noir’s past isn’t there. She is put in a bad position where she stands to lose everything. Jackie didn’t choose her role, but she needs to take it on to survive. There is no malicious intent in her actions, she just understands that she’s smarter then everyone around her and uses it to her benefit. Her character only becomes fatal in the case of Robbie because he threatened to undo all her hard work and planning. He’s also quite a villain, so his death can’t really come as a shock considering the tenuous fate of the antagonist in film history.
In Jackie Brown, Melanie also tries to conjure up the spirit of the femme fatale to enlist the services of Louis, but fails. Her understanding of the role is very limited. She tries to use sex, but lacks any sort of finesse in doing so. Then she attempts to challenge Louis, calling him a “pussy”, but she is once again shot down (but not for the last time). Melanie doesn’t appreciate the reality of the situation; Louis doesn’t really need anything that she’s offering and he’s too smart or cautious to be drawn to her. Not everyone is so easily manipulated by sex or so eager to prove their manhood.
Her failing is Jackie’s triumph. Jackie is successful because she recognizes each characters’ individual motivations without resorting to the appeal of general ones. She knows precisely what each man wants and she knows how to convince them that she can get it. Her survival continues a trend set by Matty and the nouveau femme fatale. She shows that, in contemporary Hollywood, the strong female persona does not need to be repressed or punished; the independent woman is now worthy of praise (Spicer, Postmodern Film Noir, 165).
In neo-noir, the female threat has finally become viable. Where once there was the certainty that she would never get away with her treachery, there is now the great possibility of her success. Contemporary culture does not demand that we punish the strong woman, as she is no longer a transgressive figure. The new femme fatale has taken advantage of fresh gender/sexual politics and used it to her benefit. The evolution of the genre has allowed her to become a fully actualized character. No longer is she the reflection of something else, she is her own person and, in many cases, the subject of narrative focus. She is cognizant of the collective history of her archetype and she uses that to avoid past mistakes. The neo femme fatale functions with the classic femme fatale in mind, just as neo-noir functions with classic noir in mind.

The Relevance of Julius Caesar during the Pre-Enlightenment and Red Scare

Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, is based off Plutarch’s recount of the assassination of the great, Roman ruler. Despite its historical subject matter, the play is seems to say little, if nothing, about that historical period. This play was meant for Shakespeare’s time, in pre-Enlightenment England. The play addresses issues of power and the public sphere in the Elizabethan Age. In much the same way, the 1953 film production of Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, isn’t meant to comment on the Roman Republic. The film is a product of its age as well, that being the tumultuous era in American history known as the Red Scare. A quote by Richard Halpern from his essay “Vicissitudes of the Public Sphere” helps understand how the film production, using the same material as the play, was able to achieve contemporary relevance centuries later. “The historical meanings which later periods were able to derive from Julius Caesar are ultimately based on the play’s complexly non-synchronous relation with its historical moment” (213). Because of the play’s ability to apply historical material to the issues of the era of its production, future interpretations were also able to do so. Through placing similar emphasis on the political and ideological divisions of the story, both Shakespeare and Mankiewicz’s productions were able to achieve relevance in their age.
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar divides Rome into two worlds. On one hand, there are the politicians who govern the people; on the other hand are the plebs of the public sphere. The public sphere of the Enlightenment would’ve included individuals using reason to come to conclusions about important matters. However, the public sphere of the Roman plebs resides in the economically fueled Forum. As an important figure of a patrician class meant to serve the public, Brutus is our tragic protagonist. He is tragic for the fact that his public sphere is not of the Enlightenment, but of the Forum. Brutus is lured into conspiracy when Cassius appeals to his dedication to the people. Through use of fake letters from the public, pleading with Brutus for help, does Cassius manage to ensnare his passion. It is in this false perception of his public that Brutus is able to go through with the murder of his dear friend Caesar. Caesar’s potential for tyranny and unchecked power was too great for Brutus to let alone. By expressing this sentiment to the public, Brutus was able to win them over, but only momentarily (Halpern 211-14).
Coming from an economically-minded group, the plebs were easily won over by Marc Antony’s appeal to their materialism. Antony sees them rightly as “consumers of both rhetorical and economic address” (Halpern 225). He sets them up by presenting them with the corporeal form of bloody Caesar, and he ultimately steals them away from Brutus by exposing the financial benefits that they still reap from their deceased leader. According to his will, his properties were to be donated for public use and every Roman was to receive a modest sum of money. They could easily abandon loyalty to the usurped Pompey because he no longer provided for them, but they kept Caesar in their hearts due to his generous will. This was something Brutus could not contend with. The public sphere can support ideology, but only to a point that is without conviction. Brutus has nothing to show the plebs, nothing of monetary value to bestow upon them, only the invisible ideology of a safer and better future. Antony is savvier when it comes to the ways of the people. He is an opportunist because of his ability to take advantage of their self-serving tendencies (Halpern 222-25).
Apart from the men addressing the fictional public of the Forum, they also got a chance to address Shakespeare’s audience. Brutus made an appeal for the importance of good ideology and of enlightened thinking. Marc Antony appealed to the materialism in the real audience as well. They got to make the choice of who to side with just as the plebs of the Forum did. It would be hard not to get swept up in a passionate performance of Antony’s words, but the play truly focuses on Brutus and sympathizes with him. His death is tragic and the greatness of his character is even commented on by his enemies. The manner of the conclusion gave the audience a chance to reflect on the actions of their counterpart, the plebs.
In the 1950’s, another audience was being addressed by Shakespeare’s words. The late 40’s gave rise to great anti-Communist sentiment in the United States. Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy, was the nation’s fear monger. He worked hard to out members of the Communist party and Communist sympathizers. His aim was to ruin their lives because, to him, they were enemies of the nation. In 1947, there were hearings to expose Communist influence in Hollywood. It was here that the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) suggested that Hollywood take aim at making more blatantly anti-Communist films. The 1950 film Kim, based on the English classic by Rudyard Kipling, was revised to accentuate the novel’s minor focus on a conflict with Russians into full out warfare. In the years following, Joseph L. Mankiewicz set out to adapt Julius Caesar at the same studio (MGM). He was intent not to let his film be given the same treatment (Lenihan 42-7).
Just before Mankiewicz began production of his Caesar, he was involved in a conflict as the head of the Director’s Guild. He was known for leaning toward the political left, so this made him a target of prominent Hollywood conservative, Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille was adamant to have directors sign a loyalty oath, due to perceptions of the film industry as being liberal. Anyone who didn’t sign the oath would essentially be blacklisted. Mankiewicz opposed the action. When popular director, John Ford, asked why a man should not stand up and be counted, Mankiewicz replied that no one had appointed DeMille to do the counting. DeMille then tried to have him secretly removed from his office. He failed (Mitchell 13). At a future guild meeting, DeMille tried to sway other member against Mankiewicz with an impassioned speech. He chose to begin his speech with words that may have affected the direction of the 1953 Julius Caesar: “I have come before you neither to praise Caesar nor to bury him”. He continued his speech with more allusions to the play; he even referred to Mankiewicz and his supporters as “honorable men” just as Marc Antony refers to the conspirators during the funeral oration scene. He concluded by reading off a list of suspected Communists within the guild, just as Antony transitions into condemning Brutus (Lenihan 51-2). The context in which DeMille quoted Antony gave Mankiewicz the perfect motivation for his film.
The Mankiewicz film utilizes the unique applications of the cinema to generate a specific response to the Shakespearean material. The film opens with a high-angle shot of imperial guards carrying flags during Caesar’s procession through Rome. Producer, John Housemen, fought for the film to be shot in black and white. Although the studio initially insisted that he use the standard Technicolor, he was able to appeal to them by alluding to potential financial benefits of the method. The black and white is supposed to bring up the image of news-reel propaganda and when coupled with the opening scene is meant to recall the work of Leni Reifenstahl (Miller 97). This effect certainly paints the film’s Caesar in a dictatorial sense. Adding to this notion is the film’s use of mise-en-scene. There are many statues and busts of Caesar that can be seen throughout the film and on numerous occasions they dominate or frame the shot. Caesar isn’t the only one to be developed by these cinematic tools. All of these elements help define characters in their roles throughout the film.
Perhaps the most remarked upon scene of the film is the one that harkened Mankiewicz back to his dispute with DeMille, the funeral oration. James Mason gives an emotional, but reserved performance of Brutus’ speech to the plebs. They respond well to his good intentions for Rome, but, as in the play, they are quickly turned by the words of Antony. After slowly carrying Caesars bloody body down onto the steps of the Senate, Antony begins slowly to speak about the qualities of Caesar. Once he begins to sense a change in the mood of the public, he turns from them under the pretence of emotion, but the camera, through its powers of narration, is able to capture the performance of Marlon Brando as he shifts his eyes widely, contemplating his next move. He returns to the people with increasing emotion. He works them further into agreeing that Caesar was wronged and that the “honorable men” are traitors. After divulging to them the contents of Caesar’s will, they become frenzied. Chaos erupts in the background as Antony turns to the camera and gives a wry smile.
This scene is meant to further the image of Antony as a demagogue. He is depicted as acting upon the emotions of the public and opportunistically taking power for himself. The black and white photography works here as it did with Caesar. Brando’s emotional gesturing on the footsteps of the political center could be likened to historical footage of popular dictators. This characterization also recalls the image of Senator McCarthy in numerous ways: he seizes power by his own authority, he opposes political obstacles of treason, and he produces a document to make his case. Just like McCarthy, Antony becomes a great stirrer of trouble (Miller 98). His only loyalty is to his own ambition, not to his country or the deceased Caesar; he does not even shed a tear for his former friend.
In the next scene, Antony, Lepidus, and Octavius compile a list of traitors over Caesar’s table. Their scene furthers the comparison of Antony to McCarthy, but it is strictly out of the play. However, what follows after Lepidus and Octavius leave is a scene added for the film by the director. In it, Antony walks over to a bust of Caesar, stretches smugly, adjusts the statue mockingly, and proceeds to sit himself down in Caesar’s throne. This, again, displays Antony’s desire for power and his satisfaction with usurping it. Mankiewicz wants to be sure that Brando’s Antony is seen as the villain.
Conversely, the director strives to show that Mason’s Brutus is the tragic hero of the film. His idealism is contrasted against the dictatorial Caesar and the demagogic Antony. Producer, John Houseman, commented that Brutus reflected the tragic figure of the age, for he was a man a reason living in violent times. Both Houseman and Mankiewicz compared the character to the 1952 Democratic candidate, Adlai Stevenson, for he was an intellectual up against a charismatic General in Eisenhower (Lenihan 50). Like in the play, Brutus pleads with the people for reason, for a dream of a better Republic. He is never show acting on self-interests, for his interests are truly to the people. His deliverance of Caesar’s death stroke is depicted as a personal sacrifice. He backs away with angst as the conspirators stab Caesar and when it comes time for him to act, he does so with pain written on his face. He took no pleasure in the act, for he was not acting out some coup of power; he was doing it for a cause he truly believed in. Antony does not show half as much grief over the death of Caesar as does Brutus.
The death of Brutus is also meant to emphasize his role as protagonist. His body is show lying upon a table with Antony looking on. Antony delivers his final speech about the goodness of Brutus (5.5.74-81 of the play), ending with the line “this was a man”. From here, Mankiewicz utilizes the cinema once more by focusing the final shot on Brutus’ lifeless face. The shot seems to say “here was our man”. The final words of the play are actually spoken by Octavius, but his speech (5.5.82-87) is deliberately omitted from the film. His lines would’ve taken away from the sorrow over Brutus’ death by remarking on their glorious victory. Leaving this out of the film allows for more focus to be put on Brutus. “The tragedy then of Houseman's and Mankiewicz's Julius Caesar is not that Brutus has been seduced to traitor's cause… but that he is wrongly labeled a traitor by a conniving demagogue” (Lenihan 52).
The plebs fail Brutus by siding with Antony. He gave them a chance for a better future, free from tyranny, but they chose the material benefits of Antony, allowing themselves to be ensnared by another demagogue. They refused to fight for the man who fought for them when he was labeled a traitor. This reflects the quiescence of the 1950’s public sphere. In the era following WWII and preceding the intense activism of the 1960’s, the people were not politically active. They were given their choices and they voted on them, but they didn’t fight (Miller 100). Out of fear or sheer laziness, the public allowed the atrocities of the Communist witchhunt to be carried out. They themselves did not want to be labeled traitors, nor did they care to speak up when they were not being personally affected. The plebs of Mankiewicz’s film could not see the changes that Brutus secured, so any devotion to them was quickly cast aside in the face of Antony’s obvious benefits and power. It would have been easy for Mankiewicz to include the murder scene of the poet Cinna by the plebs to reflect the mob mentality inspired by political agitators, but it was left out. Perhaps the studio thought this was going too far, but more likely he did not want to show his plebs being inspired towards any sort of action. Their inaction is reminiscent of the inaction of the times. The people are practically a non-factor in the film, the public sphere is absent. The politicians are the focus of the film because the public put all the power in their hands, leaving none for themselves.
The film maintains strong fidelity to the play, but through its own mechanisms and slight omissions/additions, it is able to achieve relevance in a new age. This is a testament to the versatility of Shakespeare. He was able to apply history to his own particular moment in time, which allows for future interpretations to do the same. Both versions of the story were meant to show a division between the political a public spheres. The goal of Brutus in both was to help bring the two together, but in both he was rejected and power was handed over (or sold) entirely to the politicians. Each version showcases the inability of the public to resist tyranny in the face of an easy or financially beneficial resolution. This issue was relevant to both pre-Enlightenment England and the Red-Scare, just as it is relevant today. Brutus still pleads with us from the Forum to believe in something that we cannot see. It is our job not to be swayed from that course by the entertainment of Antony and the politicos.

Works Cited
Halpern, Richard. “Vicissitudes of the Public Sphere.” Julius Caesar: New Casebooks. Ed. Richard Wilson. New York: Palgrave, 2002. 210-28.
Lenihan, John H. "English Classics for Cold War America." Journal of Popular Film & Television 20 (1992): 42-52.
Miller, Anthony. "Julius Caesar in the Cold War: The Houseman-Mankiewicz Film." Literature Film Quarterly 28 (2000): 95-101.
Mitchell, Greg. "Winning a Battle but Losing a War over the Blacklist." The New York Times 25 Jan. 1998: 13.