Do you ever wonder what movies are telling us? Recently there have been a series of movies about the Middle East. Now, I haven't seen most of them, because I've been watching my blood pressure lately, and I have a feeling that watching a movie about current events coming out of Hollywood isn't going to help.
I'm almost curious to see some of them. I mean, it's hard not to read movies, or more accurately, the topics of films such as Kingdom of Heaven or 300 in light, of, oh, national policy. I mean from what I hear, Kingdom of Heaven had to have a token sympathetic Arab antagonist. I'm fairly sure, even without seeing the movie, that he probably ended nobly and tragically.
The handling of movies like these, reveals a lot about how we as a nation view and interpret history. A friend of mine once said that she disagreed with our Illustrious Alma Mater's decision to valorize the Romans and the Greeks as the "Foundations of Western Civilization" since she believed that the middle ages had an even greater influence on the society that we are today. Arguments can undoubtedly be made for both sides. But what interests me more here, is the reason why people prefer the Romans and the Greeks to other time periods such as the Middle Ages. What sort of image do we see? And why do we want to emulate it?
I mean, as my friend pointed out at the time, 300 is kind of silly, since it casts the Spartans as the "Americans" and the Persians as the "decadent Oriental empire of your choice" when commonly Spartans were autocratic and totalitarian. However, the directors of the film to force a different sort of characterization on them in the film, and of course this raises the question of why they chose to frame this historical conflict in the way that they do. Why do there always have to be "Americans" or American-substitutes in every movie? Also, why do all people from ancient Europe irrespective of region speak in a British accent?
Ok, this post really ended up pretty far away from what I originally started with. Sue me, I'm tired. I'll attempt to pick up this train of thought later, and hopefully come up with something more than just "philosophical" questions. If you've got some theories, I'd like to hear them.