Sunday, August 13, 2006

Movies I've Watched

This is a post for a movie I watched that didn't quite measure up to a recommendation, but still merited a mention. It was Slaughterhouse Five. An adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Slaughterhouse Five."

Much as I'd like to be able to recommend the movie, It's not good enough. But the book is more than good enough. One of Kurt Vonnegut's top five, without a doubt. And that is to say one of the top five books of the Twentieth Century. But not quite as good as Mother Night (the film version of which I recommended on a previous post).

It's one of those books that made me think enough to think differently about "my country" and the world and how things work.

As everyone knows, Kurt Vonnegut witnessed the bombing of Dresden, Germany at the close of World War II. And, as everyone ought to know, Dresden was a target with no military value, and more people were killed there than in Nagasaki or Hiroshima, and possibly in Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined. But what Dresden and Nagasaki and Hiroshima all had in common is that hundreds of thousands of civilians died, and that there was not even an arguable military necessity in killing all those people. In both cases, the war was over except for the fat lady singing, and the bombings were clearly meant more to send a message to our Russian allies than to our defeated enemies.

[I have since learned that the figure Vonnegut uses in the book--130,000 killed, if I recall correctly--is likely a gross exaggeration influenced by Nazi propaganda. The true figure was probably "only" around 30,000. I guess that the danger inherent in taking an eyewitness at his word. Not that that changes anything other than the size of the slaughter relative to Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And although some may claim that Dresden's rail yards were a legitimate military target, they were not targeted during the bombing that ignited the firestorm. They were saved for a daylight precision bombing raid.]

But that's neither her nor there. The movie was okay at best. The book ought to be required reading for every high school student in this country.

Did I mention that I'm not a fan of war?

As far as I can tell. it's going on two hundred years since the United States of America was in a was that could be justified as truly defensive. As I see it, one tip off that a war is something other than in the interest of national defense is that it's fought predominantly on someone else's territory.

On the other hand, after 9/11, I can't really argue with going to Afghanistan as long as they were harboring Al Qaeda. Too bad they seem to be finding refuge with our Pakistani allies these days.

But what the hell. A bunch of Saudi friends hijacked some American airplanes and did very bad things with them, so let's invade Iraq and turn it over to our good friends in Iran. That sure makes sense to me.

I mean, damn. We're kickin' ass all over the place. But are we kickin' the right ass?

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Blogger Susan in St. Paul said...

preaching to the choir here...

but you say it so well.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 8:17:00 PM  

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