Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Oh My God! I Killed Them All!

Ridley Scott has directed many good movies (at least Someone to Watch Over Me, Thelma and Louise and Alien), but Gladiator is not one of them. Gladiator is a spectacle movie, and spectacles tend to concentrate on great individuals going through extremely strong emotions and doing deeds, which change the course of the history. The emphasis is always on the visuals. I haven't seen a single good spectacle movie.

There were at least two metaphorical levels in The Gladiator, but they were badly thought out. I'll analyze the libertarianism. The beginning has clear undertones of libertarianism: The politicians are corrupted and incompetent, always scheming for their own advantage and struggling for power. The sensibility of the wars to build an Empire is repeatedly questioned, even if Rome did bring civilization and rule of law to the conquered provinces. The main character, Maximus, just wants to mind his own business and let the others mind theirs in a free and entrepreneurial society.

At one point, the dying caesar suggests that after his death, Maximus should take a role as the guarantor of order and rule of law until Rome is able to re-establish a rebulican, voted, senate-based government. Maximus declines, since he prefers leading simple life in the countryside with his wife and kids.

A true liberarian would have agreed, since temporary military dictatorship is not always a bad option.

In some unstable democracies - at least in Turkey and Pakistan - the military has the role of guaranteeing stability and secularity of the state, when the political process gets deadlocked, or fundamentalist religious parties get too much influence. In Turkey, there have been 2 military coups since Ataturk established the current Turkish state in 1923. The longest period of military rule lasted for 3 years, after which the power was peacefully transfered back to politicians. In 1960 and 1980, goverments were weak and anarchy and political violence provoked a coup. In 1971 and 1997, a military coup didn't happen - the army was able to pressurize the government into reforms. In 1960, 1971 and 1980 the reason for tensions was anarchy and widespread political violence, which the goverment was unable to keep in check. In 1997, the pressure put an end to an islamic goverment, which threatened the secularity of Turkey.

Sinuhe would make a great basis for a genuinely libertarian movie, where this aspect of developing democracy would be the main theme. Sinuhe's doctor father would be the personification of the voluntarist virtues of liberatarism. Ekhnaton would be the incompetent, good-at-nothing politician. The turning point of the movie would be when Ekhnaton bans the freedom of religion by harassing the followers of Ammon, and Horemheb intervenes.

Horemheb would be the self-made man, who succeeds by pure merit, and is not tainted by political scheming. Naturally he would also be the executer of the temporary military coup, when the state is facing both an external threat of Heetians and an internal threat of a separatist province.

When describing Heetians, all references to the Soviet Union should be utilized. The final execution of the Heetian warlord should be done by guillotine-like device.

Libertaristically irrelevant events could be removed - Nefer nefer nefer could be reduced to a straightforward sex scene to fill the quota. The end should be changed so that Horemheb gives away his position as a pharao to a civilian government.

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