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subversive cinema


jjo865
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Art is often a source of revolution. Paintings, sculpture, and of course the written word, often attempt to subvert the dominant paradigm of it's birthing culture. What films do you think have fomented revolutionary thought? I'll begin this thread (my first) with two: "Blue Collar" 1978, directed by Paul Schrader. I believe it to be Richard Pryor's best dramatic performance. The movie's lesson, simply put, is Those in control remain in control because they set the rest of us against each other. This movie rarely is shown.

But...however...the most subversive movie extant, in my humble sixties opinion, is the first Matrix movie. Matrix 2 & 3 serve only to dilute the message of the first. The first Matrix is the world we live in. Most of us so tied into this madness that we'd fight not to be freed. So...subversive cinema...Any takers?

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I suppose one of the earliest "subversive" films was D.W. Griffith's *The Birth Of A Nation (1915).*

Even President Woodrow Wilson, former President of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey (albeit a Southerner by birth), proclaimed from his office the veracity of the epic film.

This movie was instrumental in setting a tone of "white" public acceptance (in both South and North) that allowed a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan influence, with repercusions that survived well into the 1960's.

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Interesting thought Stephen55 but at that time racism was hardly subversive. Racism was the dominant paradigm. Woodrow Wilson called Griffith's film truth "writ by lightning." For the Era, though later, Stroheim's "Greed" was as subversive then as it is now.

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Good choices. Practically anything by John Sayles could be considered subversive. I have not seen *Salt of the Earth* but I know of it and it certainly fits the topic. I believe, and please correct me if I am mistaken, *Battle of Algiers* was banned in France. Excellent subversive bona fides. And *Network*...Peter Finch's war cry could be a motto for subversives. Very good choices, ValentineX. I'd like to add *Missing* and *Bulworth*.

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I'd agree about Sayles, and would add Michael Moore, and probably even John Waters. Love 'em, or hate 'em, they are subversive. There were lots of subversive films in the 30s, many from WB. *The Grapes of Wrath*, *I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang*, *Wild Boys of the Road*. You get the idea.The 60s had lots of subversive films, from Corman films like *The Trip*, to Lindsay Anderson films like *If* and *O, Lucky Man*.

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Michael Moore and John Waters absolutely and Anderson's *If...* has the most subversive facial hair ever. Here's a question: is satire, by it's very nature, subversive? Norman Lear's *Cold Turkey*, I think is both.

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

> There were lots of subversive films in the 30s, many from WB. *The Grapes of Wrath*, *I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang*, *Wild Boys of the Road*.

 

Those weren't subversive. They were liberal. Liberal is ok. The heroes were seeking justice by normal cultural and governmental means.

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It often just depends on the context of when and where a film was released. The Battle of Algiers was subversive in France in 1967, but it's shown in the Pentagon of today with great respect. Wild Boys of the Road and Heroes For Sale had standard liberal endings with the FDR "things are going to be different" theme when they were released in 1933, but a year earlier those happy endings would have been impossible with Hoover the Grinch in the White House.

 

And I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang may have been liberal in its sympathy for the poor chump who first got railroaded into prison and then suckered into turning himself back in after he'd escaped, but it's hard to imagine a movie that ends with "How do you live? ----- *I STEAL!!*" as being anything other than subversive, even if it didn't show Muni storming the Georgia Governor's mansion.

 

Of course sometimes it's hard to tell "subversive" from "pre-emptive strategy to capture the youth market." This was especially true with such overrated pieces of pandering as The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and Five Easy Pieces, which were about as subversive as an ad for $200 pre-torn jeans. But then pardon my cynicism.

 

Edited by: AndyM108 on Apr 11, 2011 12:45 PM

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Algeria without France:

 

"The poll resulted in a landslide vote for complete independence from France. Over one million people, 10% of the population, then fled the country for France in just a few months in mid-1962. These included most of the 1,025,000 Pieds-Noirs, as well as 81,000 Harkis (pro-French Algerians serving in the French Army). In the days preceding the bloody conflict, a group of Algerian Rebels opened fire on a marketplace in Oran killing numerous innocent civilians, mostly women. It is estimated that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and their dependents were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria.[38]

 

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The military then intervened, declared a state of emergency that limited freedom of speech and assembly, and canceled the second round of elections. It forced then-president Bendjedid to resign and banned all political parties based on religion (including the Islamic Salvation Front). A political conflict ensued, leading Algeria into the violent Algerian Civil War.

 

More than 160,000 people were killed between 17 January 1992 and June 2002. Most of the deaths were between militants and government troops, but a great number of civilians were also killed."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria

 

----------------------------------

 

More Algeria without France, a great place for leftists to go on vacation:

 

http://www.algeria-watch.org/en/aw/extrajudicial_killings.htm

 

"The repression in Algeria is characterized by three elements that are often very closely connected with each other: the disappeared, torture and extrajudicial killings. People are arrested and kidnapped. They ?disappear? and are turned over to security forces. In such a situation, torture is applied systemically and this leads to fatalities, and accordingly, the ?disappeared? are executed."

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*The Battle of Algiers* must be one of the most popular films in Paris--I've been going there for over 40 years--and I never fail to see it listed in several theatres in the city. It's a virtual landmark of cinema there.

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I agree with you about the three 60's films you listed. They are all overrated. My mother was a child and teen during the 30's, remembers well the gangsters of the time and is upset at how they are often portrayed as heroic rather than the killers that they were. Also Bonnie Parker's photos show she was nowhere near as attractive as Faye Dunnaway. If it counts in that Private Screenings on Thursday, James Garner, also around then, backed this up and says he even said to Warren Beaty.

 

Dustin Hoffman did not look like an innocent 21-year old college graduate but the nearly 30 year old he was. The whole movie, not just his romance with Elaine was half-baked. And while I sympathies with Jack in the restaurant scene this one leaves me cold as well. I don't think they were subversive, liberal or anything else but irresponsible.

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I don't see what makes *Heroes For Sale* that much more subversive than *The Fountainhead*. Both have inventors breaking their inventions for what they see as breach of contract. It's just that the two movies have different political points of view.

 

Well, not quite; regardless of what you think of Rand's politics, the problem with *The Fountainhead* isn't so much the politics as it is that she didn't seem to know how to write a screenplay, which makes the whole movie problematic. *Heroes For Sale*, on the other hand, is going quite well until the tacked-on ending that comes across as little more than propaganda. (I think that *Wild Boys of the Road* has much the same problem, but isn't as severe as *Heroes For Sale* in that regard.)

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A film like Elia Kazan's 1957 "A Face in The Crowd" could be considered something of a subversive formula to the whole aspect of hero-worship and cult figures established from a distored view of exploitation of the mass media. Budd Schulberg, who wrote the screenplay, based it on a short story he had written entitled "The Arkansas Traveler." The story basically gave credence to fear that the new medium of visual television could be used in unsavory ways of swaying the viewing public into thinking what a popular television personality believed to be homespun truth, leading towards an extreme reactionary philosphy that is then aligned into the political arena.

 

The film gave the Schulberg story a vision of actually predicting the comming of what we now know as everything from "Trash TV," "Reality Television," "Fox News," "MSNBC," "Greedy Game Shows" and anyone harboring nothing more than ornate imagery, based around a deceptive form of entertaining the viewing public. It is to this day, one of the most thought provocative, aggressively expressive films on just how easy it is for someone with little education, honest rationality and logic achieve popularity by a means of a symbolism that is hidden behind a basic unprincipled personality that turns power-mad, because the indiviual begins to believe in their ability to manipulate the masses.

 

Examples to the movie's main character of "Lonesome Rhodes" have been given to such media personalities as Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Sara Palin, Larry King, Bill O'Reilly and the man some believe Schulberg based the character on, Arthur Godfrey, who had been a strong and powerful media personality during the 1950's.

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