". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, April 15, 2011

So Badly Did Redford Blow It With *The Conspirator*

Of all years to put out a film that chose to use Lincoln's assassination by a rabid CSA sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, as a paradigm for rummy&otherrethugzguant√°namorenditiontorture etc.'s EviLe doings. Then, they release it the week that observes the sesquicentennial firing upon Fort Sumter by South Carolina and CSA, officially starting the Civil War. What were they thinking? (Perhaps, that they know Civil War history, and that had something startling and new to say.)

Because it is the Civil War sesquicentennial, all year the media has been generally dealing with the issues (Yes! It was SLAVERY! Whatever other issues they too were bedrocked in slavery and the expansion of slavery) and the revisionist mythologies of the Civil War (Lee did NOT free his slaves! slaves did NOT enlist in the CSA army! the CSA DID start the war! Lee DID lose!) (Well then, you get the idiots as on public radio's "The Takeaway," who rolled out all the same revisionist balderdash lies yet again, but that's WNYC for ya!)

So, Mr. Redford's lack of formal, systematic study of our history, that he's a film-maker not an analyzer, is bolded in this flick that yet again presents a victimized confederacy and its innocent innocent, collateralized victims. Even the New York Times movie critic notices that this Redford vehicle is not getting the time, the place and the actors historically (the paper has been running the A-1 class Disunion series all year, after all, so one would indeed hope that this periodical's staff would take notice of these historians and other knowledgable people, including very often the commentators, who are getting it right). So does the New Yorker. Surely there are others.

For me personally the characterization of Stanton is wrong as well as offensive. I can go into why in great detail, citing chapter and verse of documentation, but that would bore you all if you already know it, and it would not be boring for your kinds of person to look it up yourselves, if you don't know and want to. Also, D.C.? It didn't look like that. There could have been a great narrative, historical movie in this but that's not the movie they made. With doubtless the best intentions in the world to serve our contemporary burning issues of justice and transparency in government and the legal system, they blew it, because they chose to do so by once again falling into the movie world's unexamined failsafe of the unjustly victimized confederate by the northern Union bully.

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