Thursday, March 09, 2006

Under the Spreading Rowan Tree

Well, I've just seen The Road to Guantánamo (IMDb link; Channel 4 link) and I thought it was bloody good.

If you're really quick, you can watch (again) DA's performance on Newsnight Review (Warning contains scenes of Mark Kermode!). I don't think I have the stomach for that right now, but I thought at the time that he'd at least got the art of the bottled review and hit a few salient faults with the work. Now, I'm furious. Mostly with the vacuity of everyone else, as it happens. It is possible of course to gainsay a whole film (there are plenty of precedents for a work of art misrepresenting history: a certain English playwright who shall remain nameless invented a disability for a deceased monarch, translated Gaius Julius Caesar's last words from Greek, and misrepresented a harmless Scottish nobleman, to name but three), though Dave's footling about over dates isn't the way to do it. The film admits that the decision to cross into Afghanistan took time, and that the situation was very confused. Mark Kermode's "defence" that Michael Winterbottom makes films with unreliable narrators is, in retrospect, even more offensive than his dandy Teddy Boy barnet, and that's saying something. They were lied to and exploited, as tends to happen to naive young men in times of crisis.

DA's attack (which seemed plausible to me last week, because I tend to view awards ceremonies as bullshit) that the film only won awards because of the subject matter is even more bullshit. There was a lot going for the production values: the number of cast with speaking parts; the filming in Pakistan and Afghanistan; the realism of Camps X-Ray and Delta; the glimpses of humanity in the Americans (who acted very very well; baddy roles are usually given to the best actors: which is why the villains in American films were trained at RADA). Besides the political message, it was a well-made film. Aaro's criticism looks like a sort of envy. Why Michael Winterbottom can make films of his political viewpoint, and I'm ... I'm only a Times columnist! Will evil bruschetta-eating liberals stop at nothing to gag David Aaronovitch? That's David Aaronovitch, erstwhile TV producer and editor (Wikipedia entry). So that's David Aaronovitch, whose day job is defending the present government, capitalism, and the status quo, is somewhat pissed off to find that the latter two (the first, thankfully, doesn't run the press yet) sign cheques to brighter, younger talents. It's a cruel world.

What is Nick on? His Standard column isn't on his blog as I write, so the Islamophobia site's version with have to do. The bold enemy of the Taliban starts thus, adjectives fail:

When Radio 4 invited the exeditor of the Erotic Review to analyse The Road to Guantanamo, a vague notion that had been bubbling in my mind for months became a certainty. Liberal London has gone mad.

There's nowt so parochial as London hack as we used to say at the ferret-stuffing legion in Brixton. Liberal Birmingham would never allow a woman to edit a dirty mag, still less wag her chops on the radio. Er, isn't that what he meant? Actually there's so much wrong with those two sentences, I don't know where to start.

There is a strange mood among the metropolitan intelligentsia at the moment. It has become a kind of class betrayal to do anything other than blame Blair and Bush for the woes of the world.

"Do" isn't used in a kind of George-Orwell-spoke-plain way, it's just a very dull verb passed off like last week's celery. Good job that Nick, like Oswald Mosley before him, isn't addressing this limp decadent "metropolitan intelligentsia" but the bright new boot boys of TOMORROW.

Who does Nick see as emblem of this "metropolitan intelligentsia"? None other than Rowan Pelling "exeditor of the Erotic Review" (a classicist writes, ex-editrix surely?) and "former purveyor of genteel pornography". Before I go on, I'd like to remind you that we're talking of The Road to Guantánamo -- a film about four lads from Tipton, who were accused of membership of the Taliban and/or al Qaeda. Got that? Nick continues:

On Sunday we had a spectacle more obscene than anything Rowan Pelling has published.

Has Rowan Pelling published anything obscene? Waterstone's used to display The Erotic Review with the other literary mags. That is, without alluring brown paper covers, and the masses still streamed past to JK Rowling and Dan Brown.

There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (artsem, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions. This, Winston was aware, was not meant altogether seriously, but somehow it fitted in with the general ideology of the Party. The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty it.

Government Policy Manual, Chapter 6.

The Archbishop of Canterbury stood in the Sudan, a country filled with the mass graves the Islamists have dug, and failed to register a squeak of protest.

This is an article ostensibly about Michael Winterbottom's film, which also mentions mass graves -- dug by the Northern Alliance. Nick: "While crimes against humanity stared him in the face ..." Er, does he really think that just by being in a country, you cannot fail to miss injustices? Does the man own a passport?

I was going to post earlier this evening wishing Aaro good luck in the Hastings Half Marathon, because I'm sure I speak for all who post here, that just because I disagree with what you say, it doesn't mean that I hope you curl up and die horribly. This separates me from Nick who has really got on my bad side tonight.

Nick, please try reading Politics and the English Language and think what "stared him in the face" might actually mean.

I had a brilliant title while I watched the film, and I immediately forgot it. At least the one I've got now will give Nick the vapours.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Mike said...

the realism of Camps X-Ray and Delta

How do you know? You've never been there, have you? That was a very revealing remark.

I think you owe David Aaronovitch a big apology after that appalling film tonight. Aaronovitch's column on it nailed it completely; surely one of his best columns ever.

Why O why can't we be a bit more embarrassed about why so many British Muslims end up in these places? We should be apologising to the yanks; not condemning them.

3/10/2006 02:21:00 AM  
Anonymous bruschettaboy said...

yawn - troll. You don't have to have been to Camp X-Ray to know that the walls don't wobble, fool.

Why O why can't we be a bit more embarrassed about why so many British Muslims end up in these places?

You mean eight, all of whom are apparently innocent? What are you saying (or "emphatically not saying", take your pick) here?

3/10/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

I'm sorry to brag, but I saw DA's mealy-mouthed approach to Road to Guantanamo a mile off - and I only watched about a minute or two of Newsnight Review. As for Nick, he obviously hasn't been in Waterstone's for the last 15 years if he thinks the Erotic Review is obscene (unless he's gearing up for a future anti-porn article).

3/10/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The film lacked the ability to convince - particularly for the apparent lack of reason or motivation for them going to Afghanistan - "big naans"

3/10/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw DA on Newsnight review. I thought his central point was valid: why did the Tipton men cross over from Pakistan into Afghanistan and head for the battlefield.

3/14/2006 07:09:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home