Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why we fight

Pamela Geller, who normally blogs at Atlas Shrugs. has a nice essay on American Thinker today:

Gone with the Wind, a national treasure, turned seventy on Tuesday. Turner Classic Movies aired it Tuesday night to commemorate the anniversary of its 1939 Atlanta debut. For an old movie aficionado like me, it was the Super Bowl. The love story depicted in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind is irresistible to a romantic realist (man as he ought to be in the low state of the world). And Selznick's uncompromising vision and execution of Mitchell's epic novel is thrilling, no matter how many times you see it.

But it is more than just entertainment. This is one of the films that reflects American culture's finest hour. Essentially, such films are a reflection on our values, morality, and art. Ayn Rand said it best:

"Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments. An artist recreates those aspects of reality which represent his fundamental view of man's nature."

The fundamental view of man's nature reflected in American films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s was noble, just, and courageous. Gone with the Wind was made was 1939. ‘39 was the apex, the zenith, of the golden age of Hollywood. The thirties, forties, and fifties boast a treasure trove of classic, brilliant film masterpieces, but ‘39 was unmatched. Movie historians and cinemaphiles alike agree that 1939 was the greatest year in film history. Consider the exceptional Dark Victory, Ninotchka, Rules of the Game, The Wizard of Oz, The Young Mr. Lincoln, Love Affair, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Juarez, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Destry Rides Again, Gunga Din, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Of Mice and Men, Stagecoach, The Women, Wuthering Heights, and Gone With the Wind -- all made that year.

When America was America, films like these were made in large quantities. Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Cagney, Ingrid Bergman, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren, Deborah Kerr, Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum, Paul Muni, John Garfield, Hedy Lamar, Gene Tierney, Taylor, Burton, Vivien Leigh, Laughton, James Mason, Marlene Dietrich -- I derive succor from these people the way the folks on the Left pop meds.

This is why I do what I do. Islamic law forbids representational art. It forbids music. With its laws allowing polygamy and wife-beating, it forbids love. And these are the kinds of laws they are trying to bring in to Europe and America today, right under our noses.

And so that is why I fight: for art, music, and love.

And in American films of the golden age, you can find them in abundance. American music of the same period is just as great also. Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington. Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely -- on which art, music, love and film all come together. This is my most favorite and deeply personal Sinatra album. The whole album is a masterpiece. Sinatra's finest. His voice was never smoother, richer, deeper, more pained. At the time of the recording, Sinatra's break-up and divorce from Ava Gardner had been finalized. He was so crazy for her. It was one of the great loves of the era. And the arranger of the album, Nelson Riddle, had recently suffered the deaths of his mother and daughter. Riddle remarked at the time, "If I can attach events like that to music...perhaps Only the Lonely was the result." Sinatra was asked at a party in the mid-1970s if he had a favorite album of his, he said straight away: Only the Lonely.

It is a uniquely powerful and uniquely American translation of events and emotions into art that speaks to everyone.

American music, American film. These things should rightly be considered one of our unquantifiable gifts to the world. We ought to look back in order to go forward in the right direction, and so it is useful to revisit them. Grab the popcorn, dim the lights, sit down, kick off the jihad and indulge in a thoroughly Western past time! Revisit the days when America was still America. And gather the strength to fight - for art, for music, and for love.

One of the things I'm doing this long snowed-in weekend is catching up on my movie watching. I have the new blu-ray boxed sets of both Gone With The Wind and Wizard of OZ that I'm looking forward to watching as well as a standard def DVD of They Were Expendable which is probably the best war movie ever made. For more on this masterpiece check out this seven-part essay by Leo Grin on Big Hollywood. And a note to the copyright holder, a film this excellent deserves a restored version on blu-ray with plenty of extras - like maybe, among others, a history of the movie adapted from Mr. Grin's work.

Ms. Geller is correct. Islam not only wishes to deny us freedom but to rob all joy from life and it must be opposed.

In fact all such anti-life absolutist philosophies must be opposed whether they call themselves religions like Islam or political movements like the modern neomarxism of the American Democrat party or religions masquerading as scientific theories like human caused global warming.

All are anti-life, anti-liberty and anti-joy and the best any of them deserve is an unmarked plot in the graveyard of discarded lies.