death, grace, movie

Maintain the Humanity in Humans or Become the Nazi

One may find the trailer below disturbing.

First thought: Dehumanizing is exactly what the Nazis did. I hope for the best in this movie, that it will shed light on what we should not do: fall into the equally violent and sinful way of seeing people as animals to be scalped. And for those readers who are protesting, this criticism is nothing new. However, Tarantino has given me little in the past to hope that such a criticism will be written into the movie. Although, perhaps the title is an indication to the contrary, or perhaps not. After all, Tarantino is not beyond the Norse understanding of the hero — the hero seeks to transcend death by doing great deeds so as to be remembered in lore.

Death calls out death. It is toxic and creeps into us all. This the trailer shows so thoroughly. How could we respond differently than a murderous cycle where all humanity is lost? Thank God for the interruption of grace.

In other movie news, Watchmen did alright in my book. Even if the Christology in it was just as terrible as the Dark Knight.


8 thoughts on “Maintain the Humanity in Humans or Become the Nazi

  1. The film seems interesting because it is depicting US soldiers as inhuman killers of an inhuman enemy. There have been far too many sentimental WWII films that depoliticize their heroic subjects destroying an inhumane enemy.

    The current favorite seems to be the fully human hero destroying the fully human enemy – as if these are more ‘pure’ and ‘correct’ depictions of the way things ‘really are’. Even the Dark Knight went to this level, with not only Batman having his idiosyncrasies and heartbreak, but the Joker having a puzzling past where the viewer cannot help but sympathize with his sheer brokenness even in light of his supposed pure evil – evil for evil’s sake; as if to fully dehumanize the enemy one must first fully “flesh him out”, at this point it becomes even easier to hate him because he seems all the more real or has in some way forsaken the humanity the audience might have granted him.

    Another interesting configuration might be a totally dehumanized (and even fully politicized) hero that is set to destroy a completely human and depoliticized enemy without employing the standard technique of ironic distance between the subject and the viewer (i.e. the viewer will not be allowed or invited to laugh at some “bad” or “ironic” instance in the film in any way at all). The real trick would be to do something like this in a G-rated film.


    • I agree that it is interesting in the turn away from sentimentalism, but this is the same turn that is used to justify US terrorism against “terrorists” (i.e. “shock and awe”). However, in this turn, at the same time, dehumanizing is embraced — necessary to fight ’em — and denied — while we act with fear, we’re not that bad, honest, we’re just making an “exception” (i.e. Agamben). So while this film may have a positive, I’m wary of the negatives simply re-enforcing the status quo’s logic.

      On another topic, I’m not so sure that the Joker is actually humanized. The scars around his mouth are explained in multiple ways. I was under the impression that he lied about how he got them throughout the movie. In fact, the Joker is an incarnation of chaos, and as such, he actually wins as he converts people into his language — his best protégé flips coins to make decisions. The solution is to make Batman into a scapegoat to ensure at best an ambiguously moral society. As a bad Christological scapegoat, he walks off into the sun rise like a cowboy hero. Batman is likewise, no longer human as society hunts him and society lives a lie. I’m not sure anyone seeks out humanity in others in the movie.

      But I do agree, that g-rating sounds like a fun challenge.

  2. I have noticed of late a disturbing up-tick in such “revenge” fantasy movies like “Taken” and “The Last House on the Left” and this film. I wonder if anyone will make a film by the same title in Vietnamese about the Vietcong’s struggle against American forces in the 60s and 70s.

  3. Halden says:

    I don’t think we should take Quentin Tarantino so seriously, either as a film maker or a social critic. He’s a putz.

  4. dave says:

    True, but I agree with Halden: Tarentino is a putz. I think Resevoir Dogs is somewhat decent, but overrated like everything else. I don’t understand the hype for him in the same way that I don’t understand the hype for Boondock Saints or Guy Ritchie. I suppose it may be unfair to characterize it this way, but when I could spend money watching a Charlie Kaufman or Wes Anderson movie, I won’t be caught catching the latest Tarentino violence-glorifying ankle-deep aesthete-pleasure fest.

    Forgive me for the pretentious “term-term” tirade. Admittedly I’m just lost as to why Tarentino is considered to be such a great director.

  5. Halden says:

    There was an episode of the Simpsons a long time ago where Quentin Tarantino was “special guest director” for the Itchy and Scratchy episode “Reservoir Cats”. They proceed to brutally slaughter each other like always, but then Tarantino comes into the frame and starts talking to the audience in his whiney little voice “You, see? See what I’m saying here? I’m saying that violence is everywhere in our society.”

    He thinks he’s edgey but he’s generally just dumb and bombastic and it shows. This movie looks like the height of that.

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