Axver (axver) wrote,
Axver
axver

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And President Reagan comes up to me ...

I'm an irony fan. That's why when I learnt Ronald Reagan had died, I nearly slipped out of my chair. Just before I read the news, I'd got up to find the 9 May 1987 Hartford concert had finished downloading, so I extracted it from SHN to WAV, put it on, and there I was, listening to Bullet The Blue Sky and Bono screaming "And President Reagan comes up to me!" when I saw hard2explain8's post on my friends page. This made me think "What the zark?" and a quick trip to CNN.com confirmed everything. Ironical indeed. Frankly, I don't have an opinion on Reagan. I know people who both loved and hated him, but I never did any research to form an opinion. I do remember when Christopher Skase was photographed in Majorca hiding behind a Ronald Reagan mask, though. Skase was a bloody twit.

In God's Country --> Trip Through Your Wires --> I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For --> Exodus flows really well, as the Hartford gig proves. Best performance of TTYW. That song could be so much better if it had better lyrics. The Electric Co. seems pretty weird coming after ISHFWILF/Exodus, though. I also feel the Joshua Tree version of The Electric Co. was lacking, mainly because it didn't have The Cry accompanying it. I have been hoping it'd come back to the setlist for quite a while, but I doubt they'd bring it back with The Cry and in any case, I'm not sure if Bono would sing it with the same "stuff you!" aggression of his youth. So now I don't think they should bring it back. I also don't think it sounds right with Light My Fire snippeted during the lull. Amazing Grace worked wonderfully there as 21 November 1984 well and truly proves. And now ... October follows The Electric Co.? That's not right! This is one messed up setlist. There is NO WAY that ISHFWILF --> The Electric Co. --> October works. Concert's still extremely enjoyable though!

You know, I keep saying I'll work on my Modern History assignment and then I don't. I will today, though. Geography exam is tomorrow so I need to do major study for that. Yesterday, I wrote my English assignment draft, and I'm actually pleased with bits and pieces of it.

Currently untitled
By André Withoutalastname

[The movie names are correctly italicised in my master copy; I just can't be bothered going through doing the coding on here]

The twentieth century was arguably one of the most tumultuous periods in history, and one of the defining events of the hundred years was the Holocaust. During World War Two, Hitler’s Germany exterminated more than six million Jews in an outpouring of hate against a group of people they saw as less than human. Many survivors of the terror still live with the mental and physical scars of the Nazi concentration camps, and numerous movies and documentaries have been made about what they endured. Two of these films are Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, each depicting the horror in markedly different ways. Despite this, they are both successful in portraying the event and its perpetrators as horrendous and inhuman. They accomplish this by employing depictions of violence both obvious and subtle, utilising various cinematic techniques, creating an awareness of the Jews’ peril, and revealing the horrors of war.

The atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust are well-documented and the two movies portray the violence in vastly different but effective manners. Life is Beautiful takes a very subtle approach, with the horror not visible on the surface. Benigni states that he “never show[s] direct violence … [or] direct terror, but the terror is there.” A level of knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust is assumed and the horror lurks subtly beneath the surface, driving the characters in their actions and creating an atmosphere of desperation and tension. The most graphic depiction of violence occurs when the main character, Guido, discovers a pile of bones in the dark, but even then it is shrouded by a blanket of mist, keeping the horror obscured and adding to the underlying atmosphere. Life is Beautiful shows none of the blood and beatings most find synonymous with the Holocaust; instead, the prisoners appear physically exhausted, mentally strained, and their numbers are seen to slowly but surely decrease.

Schindler’s List is the diametric opposite of Life is Beautiful in its portrayal of the violence. Spielberg does not even attempt to hide the gruesome and gory details from the viewer, and he makes the situation appear even more horrific and stark by filming the movie almost exclusively in black and white. Stripped of colour, the Nazis appear to be emotionless and remorseless killers who treat the Jews as less than animals. This highly accurate depiction is accentuated and made all the more appalling through the use of scenes showing the needless and disgusting murders of innocent people, such as young children and frail old men. The Jews are shown beaten, bloody, dirty, naked and dead, with the lack of colour adding to their hopelessness and death. Every fell deed and every shameful atrocity is shown without bias and this elicits an emotional reaction from a stunned audience.

Both films have received much criticism for their portrayal of the violence and atrocities. Richard Schickel labelled Life is Beautiful “a farce set in a Nazi concentration camp [that] trivialises the horror of the Holocaust.” He goes on to report that “the truth about the Holocaust would crush his [Benigni’s] comedy” and the “brutal reality is never vividly presented.” Nothing could be more further from the truth. Benigni’s film presents the horror masterfully, subtly hinting at it for its entire duration. From posters of Mussolini to footage of Guido performing strenuous labour, the reality of the Holocaust is present. Tension is created and encouraged as Guido tirelessly sacrifices his own needs to protect his young son from the truth, a reality that threatens to shatter through Benigni’s fairytale guise at any moment. Evan Williams sums the movie up perfectly when he states “it doesn’t set out for a moment to be a realistic depiction of what it was like in the camp … humour is a valid response to tragedy … and I think it succeeded.”

Schindler’s List has also been the recipient of undue criticism. Gilbert Adair writes that though it was not “the disgrace one had every right to expect,” it was still “a monstrosity … a Hollywood film like any other.” It is sad that a vividly real and starkly true-to-life movie has been derided simply because it was made in Hollywood. Stanley Kauffman quite legitimately observes that “if the opening credit had said Film Polski or Sacis or some other foreign brand name instead of Amblin Entertainment, it’s a fair guess fewer nerves would have been grated from the start.” The fact that Schindler’s List was made by a Hollywood production company and promoted by the same vehicle that promotes movies such as Lord of the Rings and The Matrix is irrelevant when assessing its merit. It is not Adair’s “Hollywood film like any other,” because in an era of full colour, a mechanism used gratuitously by Benigni, it is shot almost totally in black and white. In an age where graphic violence is promoted and dramatised, Spielberg shows it as repulsive and heinous. In an age where individual stories are celebrated and the weaker always win, Schindler’s List has a more broad focus and shows the ‘heroes’, the Jews, being humiliated and killed. Additionally, Oskar Schindler leaves the movie a broken hero, lamenting the fact he did not save more. It is not standard Hollywood fare but a cinematic triumph showing the perpetrators of the Holocaust as alarmingly inhuman and the Jews as mistreated, brutalised victims.

The social value of both films cannot be overstated. Life is Beautiful shows the human spirit is an enduring one through use of comedy, bright lights and exaggeration. With skill and a feel for every minor detail, Benigni weaves his bright fairytale over a bleak and dark canvas of anti-Semitism. The viewer is left with a sense of victory and the message that the human spirit cannot be defeated by hate-filled warmongers. The gloom and despair of the Holocaust is shown to be atrocious, the architects to be heartless and disdainful, and love, family, and imagination as victors. Schindler’s List, in some ways, achieves a similar impact through its realistic and completely bleak portrayal. It would be impossible for a viewer to walk away from this film without being emotionally affected and without discovering a new realisation of the terrors of warfare. Audiences are left with a heightened awareness of the cold-blooded ferocity of the Nazis and the torment the Jews underwent. Through morally repulsive scenes, conflict and its instigators are shown to be brutal, inhuman, and horrific, and a true sense of sorrow for the victims is stimulated. The two films prompt different understandings and this is most beneficial because there is more than one way to look at any event.

Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful are diametric opposites in many ways. The former shows every aspect of the horror the Holocaust, is accompanied by a bleak musical score, and the desperation is made even more gloomy through black and white footage. The latter is a colourful and vibrant movie that paints a fairytale over the despair, but through skilful cinematic ability, the terror lurks in the moviegoer’s mind and has a more personal impact than the wanton and stark killing in Schindler’s List. Despite these differences, the two movies make audiences aware of the Holocaust’s terrors and show a broad spectrum of reasons why war is abhorrent. Bono of the rock band U2 sung that people “glorify the past when the future dries up.” Instead of glorifying the past, the two movies succeed in depicting the horrors of the Holocaust, and in doing so, keep the knowledge and understanding of future generations from drying up.

---

Oh, oh, oh! I'm going to try to take a calm approach to this one. OH HOLY ZOOTV, HOW BLOODY INCREDIBLE THOU ART! Calm enough for you? desert_sky, I think you're turning me into a ZooTV fanatic. But no. I'm still a pre-JT fanlad. I just finished downloading the 28 August 1993 ZooTV Dublin incomplete audienceshot DVD. What was I expecting? Something in the vein of ZooTV Strasbourg, which, while a good gig, is nothing like high quality when it comes to footage. What did I get? I was very much proved wrong. This is NOT the best - it can't even compete with stuff like ZooTV Rotterdam (which I originally thought was singlecam proshot but turns out to be tripod-mounted audienceshot) - but it is still very good, nice stable camerawork and crisp enough picture. Two audio sources - very good audio right from the camera, and the AMAZING soundboard. It's so cool watching Even Better Than The Real Thing - while filming himself, Bono starts spinning madly, and all this as he launches into the "take me hiiiiiigher!" falsetto!

I was going to write more, but the rendition of Stay came on ... and I've been repeating it. And repeating it. This is the most beautiful thing ever. Bono plays the first verse solo, and it's just so ... wow. I want to cry. Bawl my poor eyes out. It's just ... lovely and beautiful and stunning and amazing and sweet and I could exhaust every superlative there is in describing it. I'm in love with this song. Wow, wow, wow.

And now I'd go study Geography, but I can't stop repeating Stay.

By the way, rich text mode is the worst thing ever. Whoever thought it'd be a good idea? Grr.
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