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Kinokima

Banning of Films

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> Um excuse me no I did not say anything of the kind. I thought it was ridiculous to say TCM was greedy because they do not air it

 

I never said TCM was greedy for not airing it. Some other guy said that. I never heard of the film before that thread and before I looked it up on YouTube last week. You got all upset because I said I thought people should see it for its historical value, because it is a German film about the German middle-classes in 1938, and strictly about their personal lives, and with a major international star like Ingrid Bergman.

 

I want to see the whole film because these are the very people we?ve heard in dozens of post-war movies say, ?Oh, we didn?t know what was happening,? such as in films like ?Judgment at Nuremberg?, ?Berlin Express?, and ?A Foreign Affair?, etc.

 

They didn?t know because they didn?t want to know, and this is the first film I?ve seen that shows how wrapped up they were in their own personal middle-class lives, without paying any attention to the big political things going on all around them, and apparently this film has been banned in the US for the past 72 years, because there seems to be no version available with English sub-titles. It reminds me of what Uncle Charlie said in ?Shadow of a Doubt?:

 

?There's so much you don't know. What do you know, really? You're just an ordinary little girl, living in an ordinary little town. You wake up every morning of your life and you know perfectly well that there's nothing in the world to trouble you. You go through your ordinary little day, and at night you sleep your untroubled ordinary little sleep, filled with peaceful stupid dreams. You live in a dream. You're a sleepwalker, blind.?

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Well clearly we seemed to have a misunderstanding, First of all I would like you to read my last post to you again. Notice how I did not say it was you that said TCM was greedy but the original poster of that thread.

 

I did not get upset at you because you want people to see the film. Not at all. I got "upset" because of what you said about the content of the film. I am disagreeing with you that you can get an accurate depiction of what you want to see "Middle Class Germany of 1938". I also did say that yes there might be half truths in there but it is still what the Nazis wanted to portray about the time. Perhaps we could come to a middle ground if you agree that you cannot take it as a complete truth. You wouldn't take everything from a Hollywood film as a complete truth either would you? Of course I am not saying there is nothing you could get out of the film historically either.

 

So please do not take it the wrong way. I see nothing wrong with you wanting to watch the film. I would also like to point out that an issue with the film is it might not be available in the US. Not because it is banned but just because it never got over here. If that is so there might not be an official subbed copy for TCM to air. This has nothing to do with the film being banned. Who knows they might not think there is a market for it. Trust me there is a lot of foreign media not available officially in the US.

 

Your best bet to see the film might be to buy an official copy from Germany. To see it subbed maybe some people have subbed it unofficially online.

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> I would also like to point out that an issue with the film is it might not be available in the US. Not because it is banned but just because it never got over here.

 

I saw Leni Riefenstahl on NBC?s Today show, back in the mid-1980s. She was introduced as the woman who made ?Triumph of the Will?. I had never heard of her or the film, although I had been copying her documentary film style ever since I first owned a movie camera when I was 13 years old. I learned her style by watching excerpts from her films that had been used in American movies and newsreels that I saw when I was growing up as a kid.

 

Finally, by watching that Today show program, I was learning about the lady who developed that style in the early ?30s, when reflex film cameras were first available in Germany, but they were not yet available in the US. That?s why her films were in focus when she used long telephoto lenses, and that?s why American documentaries of the ?30s and ?40s couldn?t do follow-focus shots with long telephoto lenses.

 

Anyway, she said that all of her German films (including her dramas) had been banned in the United States, and she was trying to get them distributed over here. Certain groups criticized NBC for having her on the Today program. That was the first time I learned about German films being banned in the United States, even though Hollywood had been stealing scenes from her films for the previous 40 years, without giving her any credit at all, while banning her whole films and her name. Now I see that this Bergman film has been banned too.

 

This thread is about ?Banning of films?, and that?s why I brought it up here.

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There's nothing wrong with literature or movies being used for improvement,

but that is rarely the reason they are created, and their effectiveness in such

a use is questionable.

 

Maybe some of the more "official" intellectuals who worked in government

or other institutions may not have been offended by the racial theories of

Hitler, though even that is probably a stretch. I think there is little doubt that

the idea of eugenics was much more accepted by all elements of society in

the 1930s than it would be later.

 

Russell is an interesting case, as he was often in conflict with the powers that be

in England, even serving jail time for his pacifist actions during WW I. Marriage

and Morals also got him in trouble in the US. His appointment to teach at

City College in New York was withdrawn in 1940 due, not to his beliefs about

eugenics, but because of his liberal views about sex and marriage.

 

Perhaps the Bible is the most banned book worldwide, perhaps. I doubt that it

was often banned in the US. Movies from past periods when racial stereotypes

were allowed is one way to understand something of the history of racism in

the US, but they should be supplemented by other sources that give a more detailed

and thorough account of that history.

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This whole discussion is utterly laughable. My comment? Well, I would ban about 75% of the movies that were made in the last 15 to 25 years! They are a hell of allot sicker and more offensive than anything that was made back in the day.

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I think you need to have a little more respect for the posters who have put serious thought into the debate. And if you find it so laughable, then why even join the fray?

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Right, there is nothing wrong with using art to better society. And many artists do find much purpose in using their work to entertain _and_ enlighten.

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> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> Right, they are used to indoctrinate film students into not making those kinds of films in the future.

>

> But again, that sort of education could be accomplished with a textbook, a slide show, a museum exhibit, or still photographs. The film itself does not not need to exist in its entirety for it to be studied or the condition surrounding its construction explained.

 

No, they weren't used to indoctrinate us into not making those kinds of films again. They were used to show us key points in film and cultural history, and how the contributed to the development of cinema in their respective societies. Birth of a Nation was the first "epic" film, obviously a staple of silent American cinema. Triumph of the Will, a key example of film in Nazi Germany. In film class you are taught to view film texts with a certain eye and then analyze them based on theories and knowledge of the culture in which they were made.

 

Also, by your example, slideshows, museum exhibits, and still photographs can be just as "offensive" as a moving image, and therefore they do not need to exist either. Why don't we ban art all together while we're at it :/

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If someone is persuaded to embrace fascism after watching "Triumph of the Will", then the fault is with the viewer not the film. Nazism ideology didn't kill people....people killed people. So, I think "Triumph of the Will" is an incredibly powerful study into human nature that should not be banned or burned.

Ps. I highly doubt anyone could either ban or burn a film with current technology. There will always be electric copies of these films.

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I respect what has been contributed to this thread. Some of it is well thought out, and presented. But I remain steadfast in my convictions that much of what has been produced over the past 25 years would have been thoroughly condemned by past generations, and justifiably so. I detest slasher films and modern horror garbage for example that glorifies hideous mass murder and torture and somehow tries to make these criminal and insane acts seem Cool, With no apology or second thought for doing so. Building a better society? Not hardly.

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> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> We can make judgments about works of art. We can decide to remove certain things from our lives. We don't need to feel bad about that. Besides, pepperoni may not be very healthy.

 

We have the personal right to do this but I don't think we have the authority to do the same for everyone else in the public sphere. Moral and ethical standards are a contentious issue so if some people can get a work of art or literature banned over a particular issue, it would easily be possible for another group to do the same.

 

> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> The one thing that makes America great is that Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto can sit on the same self at a local library.

>

> Start worrying when they can not!

 

America, like every country, hasn't always been perfect on issues of censorship so it's always important to stay active in that regard. We should never come to the point that they are pulled off the shelves.

 

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> That does not make sense. Why should we celebrate the presence of literature that does not lead to the betterment of society and in fact helped cause some of the greatest problems known to man (and woman) in the previous century.

>

> It's like saying, we have some good sardines on the shelf in the pantry, and we also have some rancid sardines. Thank goodness we can keep the rancid ones, as that is our constitutional right. But who the heck can use rancid sardines...just rancid people.

 

History, for one, but also we shouldn't jump to paint those works in broad colors. Hitler was a famously bad writer and his ideas on race and eugenics are demonstrably wrong but it's necessary to have one of the textbooks of fascism around for people to study. I'm not a communist but I still think the social problems described by Marx and expanded on later are important issues culturally...I just disagree with the validity of Marx's suggestions on the ultimate ends of his theories. Does any committed communist still read Marx as the pure truth? I'd think they'd know that The Communist Manifesto and Capital are terribly dated in a number of ways.

 

Like the earlier pizza comparison, food and ideas aren't quite the same.

 

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> But it sounds like you are trying to dictate who is in power and to make sure they define it the way you do. Where is there any freedom in that? You have to be tolerant and see that groups who want certain materials removed have the right to do that.

 

We're getting into the area of national censorship vs. a school deciding on what books will be read in a high school AP English lit class. On the national level I don't believe we should seek to keep the flow of information and art from the people. As rational, free adults we should have the right to go to a library or book store and read whatever we want to. A school on the other hand does have the right to make decisions on curriculum. I might disagree with their opinion that a writer like Burrows shouldn't be included in discussions on modern American literature based on his vulgarity...but it's their right to make that decision.

 

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> Now you don't have to enjoy or even like Spanky and Alfalfa, but if you adhere to specific principles, then you should be advocating that all the OUR GANG movies are available to the public right alongside Mein Kampf. But I don't hear anyone doing that. Nobody is really applying the test to this specific example. Why not? Because they want to pontificate and philosophize about rights, but they don't want to put it into action when their so-called rights are in jeopardy. Hypocrisy.

>

> For instance, you are not allowed to watch certain OUR GANG comedies because someone else has decided that you can't.

>

> The NAACP doesn't want to make it a crime to show OUR GANG or Amos N Andy, but they do want to put pressure on broadcasters not to air them and to dilute their commercial value. They want to remove those titles and they are succeeding.

 

This is somewhat a false dilemma because Mein Kampf and Our Gang are often in the two different realms of censorship I and others have highlighted. I actually do see people address what I'll call the "Our Gang situation" frequently (among others, the TV show South Park has done a few episodes on the issue of TV censorship.) And I think the problem with Our Gang is a lack of visibility; most people aren't interested in any old film or media, let alone an old series of short films. I, for one, would love to see any and all Our Gang shorts on TV as they were meant to be seen. As mentioned, they are available on DVD, both the Roach and MGM eras, so we are completely free to see many of those uncut episodes.

 

Censorship happens all the time but as discussed there's a difference between our national public right to these things and what a private institution can do with their property. It doesn't mean we agree with it in the latter case, it just isn't up to us. It's up to the courage of the company that owns whatever property to release it. Warner released their Looney Tunes collections with many of the notorious racial bits and the controversy was non-existent. It's all about the courage of the company.

 

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> I wonder if the MGM ones are less offensive than the ones produced in the 30s by Roach.

 

The MGM years are tamer but the Roach films are far superior. I don't find the MGM ones too bad but they just aren't on par with the earlier years.

 

> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> I really think you should leave the same-sex and abortion topics out of this discussion. You are saying in one breath that you are adamantly conservative but you are also speaking out of the other side of your mouth trying to score points with the liberals. Take a side, make a stand and stick to it. That's what I do. And I don't back down.

 

Some people are libertarians. At this time in this country, I think it would do us all some good to remember that the political spectrum of the United States is far more complex than it is always reduced to on TV and the radio.

 

Edited by: JonasEB on Aug 14, 2010 2:16 AM

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I think you are confusing banned with not being released they are two different things. Not everything is released here simply because no company has decided to bring it over. Maybe there is not enough interest. It's not like it is illegal to watch that Bergman film.

 

As for the Leni Riefenstahl thing well after the war it might have been different but she is certainly known today. Her film making is highly praised but obviously she also has negative press because of her associations during the war.

 

I read that a lot of her other work was lost and yes she did have trouble getting distributors for her films because of those associations.

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JonasEB, thank you for such a thoughtful and informative post on this subject. I like the way you took individual points one by one and addressed each accordingly.

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There is a substantial and significant difference between these three: "banning", "censoring" and "burning" or, I assume, otherwise destroying.

 

As others have pointed out on this thread, "banning" and "censoring" are specific to different situations, ie, school curriculum(s), libraries, and private businesses (such as film companies). All of these organizations have the right to edit, censor, and remove whatever materials they wish from public access, and they often exercise this right. That does not mean that these materials, be they books, films, or anything else, are no longer available to people who want to read or view them. If a school board decides to pull Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum, (because of misguided or misinformed notions about its supposed racist content), the book is still available, usually through public libraries, certainly from book stores. Sensible parents will acquire Huck Finn via one of these sources and encourage their child to read it anyway, hopefully with some discussion as to the sensitive areas of the novel.

 

What I am concerned about is the concept, the philosophy, of destroying outright literary and cinematic materials that some find offensive - for any reason, but usually these days because of possible racist - including not just offensive depictions of black people, but also Asians, Hispanics,

and Jews - sexist, or homophobic content.

 

There is no denying that there is a vast amount of such content in the films of the past - some might argue it exists even today (remember the controversy over *Precious* -but that's a whole different topic). Sometimes, watching classic movies, it seems as though almost every other film has some kind of negative depiction of non-whites. Everyone cringes when they see this; I've had moments when my jaw has literally dropped from the outrageous -and outrageously casual - racism that has appeared in these films.

 

But to permanently delete these scenes , and to destroy those films in which the offensive matter is so prevalent that it's easier to burn them than to edit them - seems to me a false solution to the problem. For one thing, as several posters have observed, there is still value in these films. Even if you take a fairly light weight movie from the 30s, typically a young woman trying to make her way in the big city ( I'm not thinking of any title in particular, there are many like that), it is interesting to see from a historical perspective how people dressed back then, how they spoke ("Give me a cigarette, will ya, sister" ) what cities looked like, what were some of the prevailing values and goals of that time.

A line that is used disturbingly often in such films is:

"Why shouldn't I? I'm free, white, and over 21" ! ! What an offensive line this is to us today! No matter that the character/actor uttering the line thinks that they are simply making a statement of self-determination, we hear it and feel it as blatant racism.

 

Is the answer to delete the line from the film? I do not think so. Certainly there should always be a copy available that contains the dialogue in its entirety. Although I don't like it, I suppose a compromise could be to make both versions of the potentially offensive movie available, with clearly stated caveats as to whether it is the original or altered version attached.

 

One cliche I've used in this debate, which I somewhat regret, is "thought police". Another that I don't plan to apologize for is "whitewashing". (no word play intended). To permanently delete offensive, politically incorrect lines or scenes from old films is to "whitewash" our past, to pretend that these attitudes in our society did not ever exist. And, shameful to acknowlege though it is, they did.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Aug 14, 2010 10:51 AM

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But I don't think Jonas addressed those points thoroughly and some of the so-called logic that is used seems questionable to me.

 

And just because Jonas writes a term paper does not mean he is adding anything significant.

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I think that editing certain lines is the perfect solution or trimming a few scenes. If the story is that important and the movie worth keeping, then a compromise can be made. But if we want to act like everything that was ever copyrighted is perfect as it stands, then that's a lot of foolishness. And the history excuse doesn't cut it.

 

Also, we can find films that are devoid of stereotypes and offensive portrayals that give us a good idea of speech and clothing styles. Relying on OUR GANG as a barometer of fashion means we are in deep trouble.

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_Slice and dice:_

 

"Moral and ethical standards are a contentious issue..."

 

I don't think moral and ethical standards are contentious among like-minded individuals who belong to groups with the same societal objectives.

 

Next: "We should never come to the point that they are pulled off the shelves."

 

That is an opinion. We are all entitled to opinions, but remember that others do not have to agree with you on that.

 

Number three: "I'd think they'd know that The Communist Manifesto and Capital are terribly dated in a number of ways."

 

How do you know that? I think you are making assumptions.

 

Moving on: "Mein Kampf and Our Gang are often in the two different realms of censorship..."

 

How? Just because they are different works of 'art' does not mean that censorship would be applied differently. Censorship is censorship, whether we're talking about an opera or a dime store novel.

 

Next: "I think it would do us all some good to remember that the political spectrum of the United States is far more complex than it is always reduced to..."

 

Again, that is an opinion.

 

*It is easy to pull apart someone's posts and refute each line.*

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You keep mixing crime with banning. I don't think these are synonymous terms. I wish you wouldn't do that. It warps the conversation.

 

We can ban something without making it illegal. It may be a subtle ban, it may be a strong deterrent or a guilt placed upon an individual or group of people not to consume a product or subscribe to a service.

 

Again, leave the criminality to the lawyers and a discussion of banning to internet posters.

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You are the one who seems to not understand what a ban is. If you ban something that means you make it illegal to consume. There is also a difference between a ban on a national level or on a local level. So when someone bans a book/film from a school district that does not mean the entire nation is affected. However it is still the law of the school district.

 

When something does not appear on TV it is not a ban. It is a decision by the TV station to censor something they have the rights to. It doesn't mean it is not available somewhere else.

 

And what I was saying about the Ingrid Bergman movie is true. It is not banned from the US. Not every movie that is unavailable here is banned. There are many reasons why something is unavailable. Censorship is only one reason.

 

As for placing guilt on people that is hardly a ban.

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But some foreign films are banned. Some films made by Hollywood are banned in other countries. That's a reality.

 

My definition of banning is more that something is prohibited, not necessarily illegal. Parents can ban their children from associating with certain types of friends or they can ban their kids from using the phone if homework is not done.

 

In a religious community, like the Amish for instance, there are many restrictions and bans. Those things may not apply to outside groups and may certainly not be illegal but they are banned nonetheless.

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> And what I was saying about the Ingrid Bergman movie is true. It is not banned from the US.

 

According to Leni?s interview on the Today show in the mid-1980s, her films were banned in the US, i.e. ?blacklisted? by the industry, not by the government. She worked and lobbied for years to get her films shown in the US and make them available to the public.

 

Try to find a US distributor for the Bergman film.

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ClassicViewer, let's take this discussion back to its origins, which is a comment you made on the "Thompson.Hepburn" thread. If I recall correctly, you were talking about *Breakfast at Tiffany's*.

The subject of the obnoxious and offensive portrayal of an Asian man, played by a white man (to add insult to injury) came up. You suggested that the film should be "burned", based on the racism of that part of the movie. It would be difficult to excise it, because it occurs in more than one scene in the film. I don't remember offhand, but I'm guessing there are at least 2 or 3 Mickey Rooney scenes in *Breakfast at Tiffany's*, relatively short thought they may be.

 

So if we edit out those admittedly racist -and unfunny - scenes, because they are scattered throughout it, we are tearing the fabric of the movie. How effective would the film be if it were edited to that degree? I think it would be better to have a caveat, even a sort of apology if you would, at the beginning of the film, before it begins, before the credits, that warns people of these stupid and offensive scenes, and explains that that was simply part of the movie. (Why were those scenes included anyway? Is there anything like that in the Truman Capote novel? Who decided that that would be funny?)

 

If you want to fast forward through them, you can.

 

Anyway, I think this is a better way to deal with racist and otherwise unacceptable content in old films, rather than destroying them.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}

> > And what I was saying about the Ingrid Bergman movie is true. It is not banned from the US.

>

> According to Leni?s interview on the Today show in the mid-1980s, her films were banned in the US, i.e. ?blacklisted? by the industry, not by the government. She worked and lobbied for years to get her films shown in the US and make them available to the public.

>

> Try to find a US distributor for the Bergman film.

 

 

Just because it doesn't have a license or a US distributor does not mean it is banned. I am also a fan of Japanese animation/manga. Do you know how many series are not released in the US. Is it because there are banned? No it is because for whatever reason US distributors do not think there is a market for these series. It is probably the same with the Ingrid Bergman film. Looking it up on the German Amazon page it doesn't seem like it is some huge hit.

 

And I don't see what Leni's films have anything to do with the Ingrid Bergman film being banned. Did she make that film? And also being blacklisted is not entirely the same as having your works banned. I feel that is a separate issue. And a number of Leni's films are available now.

 

Edited by: Kinokima on Aug 14, 2010 1:49 PM

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I don't think we should ever have to 'deal' with racism. And I am sure the NAACP would agree with me on that. We don't deal, we don't cope, we don't accept...we attack, subvert and remove it. (We would never just deal with a cockroach problem in our kitchen; we would take action to get rid of the problem.)

 

I hardly think that Mickey Rooney's character contributes much to TIFFANY'S and he could easily be edited out. Or he could be dubbed with some excuse that he dresses up for Halloween all year long. Or that he's a method actor preparing for a role.

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