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Tony Grist

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"He Loved Big Brother" [Feb. 25th, 2005|10:28 am]
Tony Grist
In Peter Mullan's terrific movie about institutionalised abuse, The Magdalene Sisters, an archbishop treats the imprisoned girls to a Christmas showing of The Bells of St Mary's and the sadistic, power-mad sister in charge stands up and gives a cooing and ingratiating little speech about how she used to go to the movies with her father and how she liked the westerns best.

And the realisation dawns that not only does this terrible woman believe that God is on her side, she also, God help us, believes that she's cute.

Monsters never think of themselves as monstrous. Stalin loved drinking games. Hitler was fond of children and dogs. Mao went among his people with a great big silly grin on his face.

I won't (because I'm a bit of a fraidy cat) mention the names of any grinners, smirkers and jokers who are still alive and in power.

Sister makes her twee little jokes and the girls laugh at them.

The self-delusion of the ruler is perfectly matched to the self-abasement of the ruled.

[User Picture]From: glitzfrau
2005-02-25 03:38 am (UTC)
and when he cried, the little children died in the streets.

Yes. There are a lot of nasty links between kitsch, sentiment, fascism and death. This is why I sa that irony is our only hope, even though that's about the least ironic statement I can muster.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-25 03:57 am (UTC)
It's one of my quarrels with Tolkien and his school that they completely misrepresent the way evil presents itself. It isn't big and black and brazen, but has a sickly sweet charm and talks the language of patriotism and religion
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-25 04:02 am (UTC)
It's a movie that is literate about evil.

It also shows how flimsy the power of the tyrant is. How much it depends on assent and collusion.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2005-02-25 05:48 am (UTC)
I think this is also something to remember when doing anything creative that involves the portrayal of "villains"; (and yes, I actually checked last year and the semi-colon really does belong outside the quotation marks, unlick the comma and the period. Too bizarre) the more "real" the villain in a book or movie, the scarier they are. Real villains don't know that they are bad/evil/villainous; to them, everything they do makes perfect sense and is logical and good. That is what makes them so scary...that their minds can be so twisted that they see their actions as good.

I'm going to strive for this in my work, but I'm not sure I'm going to succeed.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-25 06:37 am (UTC)
One of the greatest of all fictional villains is Long John Silver. He's so glamorous and attractive and entertaining that he practically becomes the hero of the book.

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[User Picture]From: sina_says
2005-02-25 06:48 am (UTC)
"...Stalin loved drinking games...

hi. i come to you via jackiejj. i skipped over to find out more about to whom she sent that creepy, leering little wooden woman. i find your writing interesting (the stalin statement is wonderful...)and hope you don't mind if i add you.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-25 06:55 am (UTC)
I'm delighted to meet you.

And I'm adding you back.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-02-25 11:36 am (UTC)
Stalin used to help his kids with their homework.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-25 02:28 pm (UTC)
He did?
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-02-26 07:40 am (UTC)
I saw that movie. It was chilling.

Kate and talked yesterday about how one always knows the truth about oneself, even while one is blustering and pretending on the outside.

But that isn't entirely true--there comes a point, for some people, when the outer person can be just a human-looking shell, while something entirely other lives within.

In Franz Werfel's wonderful book The Song of Bernadette, a novel about the life of Bernadette of Lourdes, she is being interrogated by a bishop, and he asks her: "What is sin?"

She answers: "The love of evil."

It's an interesting answer.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-26 09:50 am (UTC)
But how does one know what is evil?

The sister in the film believed that she was a good person who was punishing sinners and leading them into the paths of righteousness.

She would happily have agreed with Bernadette.

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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2005-02-26 01:28 pm (UTC)
speaking of evil talking the language of religion, "night of the hunter". that's a good one.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-02-26 02:03 pm (UTC)
Certainly is.

I love that film!
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