We watched Insomnia last night, another great movie by Christopher Nolan (who’s just one year older than I, what am I doing?) It’s similar to Sean Penn’s The Pledge in many ways. Both screenplays were written by Europeans who come from cold snowy countries, if that explains anything. With these two movies these young directors (both were just directing their third feature, so there till have lots of room to improve) are fine heirs to Clint Eastwood (see for instance Unforgiven.) Penn especially shares his sometimes desperate tenderness for humanity, while Nolan is more clinical, but is younger too, and certainly more promising as a director, as far as craftsmanship goes.
I like movies that don’t impose their pre-chewed simplistic moral statements on the audience. Are you willing to do some dirty work in order to achieve what you deeply feel to be right? To what point does the end justify the means? Until the means contradict the end? Can you break some of the rules you’re meant to protect to enforce those that matter most? Are you sure of your judgment, or even of the accuracy of the sensory perceptions and memories you base it on? Tough questions. Context matters. But there’s hope among the grim realism. The loss of innocence doesn’t mean the moral compass needs to be totally lost.
By the way I’ve always thought the best movies reviews wouldn’t even mention the plot, though they’re obviously the toughest to write.
This got me wanting to refresh my knowledge of Hegelian philosophy, and, for the record, led me to these:
The idea that the State enforces higher moral ideals upon individuals and private groups is wrong in so many ways, grounded that it is in a hating mistrust in people. Leave it to an American to nail down the necessity of civil disobedience. Going back in time to shoot Hegel before he got to write anything would be a very revealing historical experiment. Can you weed out humanity’s worst ideologies and save countless millions of deaths by just killing one man? Wouldn’t poisonous ideas mushroom elsewhere anyway?