“I think history will be very kind to Gorbachev.” That’s the opinion of 84-year-old ex-president George H.W. Bush concerning former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev, as expressed recently to reporters at the Bushes’ luxurious Kennebunkport manor.
Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, by Patrick J. Buchanan: New York: Random House, 2008, 518 pages, hardcover $29.95.
Nostalgia for previous Indiana Jones productions guaranteed that the fourth film in this series would be a box-office success. Starring an aging Harrison Ford, the two-hour, action-packed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starts in Nevada, visits a mythical U.S. university, takes the viewers to Peru, and winds up back at the university where “Indy” is a professor of anthropology. Filled with an almost never-ending string of improbable escapes from capture and death, the Spielberg-Lucas production doesn’t disappoint lovers of adventure fantasies. However, its portrayal of Soviet forces as brutal savages in a major Hollywood action flick is unique.
If you’re like most alive today, you grew up with Paul R. Ehrlich’s Malthusian idea of a “population bomb.” It just seems like common sense that man will increase his numbers inexorably until, one day, we find ourselves living a real-life Soylent Green scenario, sans drama and Charlton Heston to sound that indelible alarm about the real source of a futuristic, overpopulated world’s food supply, “Soylent Green is people!”
Epic fantasy is the one genre of storytelling that Hollywood has never been able to master. Before Lord of the Rings, there was a scant handful — Willow, The Princess Bride, and Ladyhawke nearly exhaust the list for the last three decades — of live-action fantasy films that even attained cinematic mediocrity. Of these, only The Princess Bride, with its quirky one-liners and odd commingling of the modern and medieval, achieved something approaching cult appeal. Until very recently, fantasy was perceived to be box-office poison (“Never act with children or dragons” goes the adage), and filmmakers stayed away from tried-and-true literary classics like the works of Tolkien and Lewis.
I have a vivid personal memory of my father banging his fist on the kitchen table, angered because of the way numerous politicians and media pundits were trashing Senator Joseph McCarthy. “I know he’s right and these characters are covering up for their communist friends,” said my dad.
One thing about politicians and even pundits: all their stands are courageous, if they do say so themselves. Mitt Romney, during his ill fated presidential campaign, ran an ad in which he (or rather the narrator) said that while it may be politically incorrect to say so, Mitt Romney believes in a strong America.