I once went to rather extraordinary lengths to see this film.
Doing such a thing often makes one appreciate the rarity of the moment.
But now I revisit this testament for the purpose of placing the film in my own history of the cinematic medium.
As you might know, I don’t often review new films.
For what is important to me is not the hackneyed novelty of Hollywood today, but rather the breadth of motion pictures down through time as an art form.
What is attractive about the movies is that they are barely 100 years old.
It is not much of a stretch to say that the seventh art (as Ricciotto Canudo eventually called it) was short of being a mature mode of creation in 1916.
For though Charlie Chaplin was already making important contributions, his first feature as a director and actor wouldn’t come till 1921’s The Kid.
In many ways A King in New York was Chaplin’s last film. Namely, it was the last in which he both starred and directed. [He would direct one final effort: 1967’s A Countess from Hong Kong starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.]
And so it was that with A King in New York Chaplin returned in some ways to the themes of The Kid.
Michael Chaplin (his son) is brilliant as “the kid” Rupert here in the film under consideration.
And Charles (Charlie) is equally timeless as the foil to Rupert’s Marxism.
This was a brave film to make.
It was a humane film to make.
And it is insightful even today.
We may no longer have the communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era, but we still have the same brain-dead stupidity (as exemplified by Fox News).
It is quite easy to draw that particular parallel when viewing the newscast which comes on King Shahdov’s hotel television periodically throughout this movie.
And while the hysteria of anti-communist “vigilance” has largely faded into history, another equally virulent strain of bigoted ignorance has taken its place.
Terrorism as religion.
That phrase may sound weird, but let me explain.
When you pick up The Wall Street Journal, you are viewing a religious newspaper.
And the religion?
When you watch Fox News you are entering an alternate universe in thrall to terrorism.
Terrorism is the manna from heaven for the neoconservative global elites.
They are a one-trick pony (terrorism being their only trick).
But let me illuminate my point.
NONE of the other major American news outlets (print or televised) are any better.
CNN ABC CBS NBC…all worthless. And let’s not forget the woeful New York Times.
Which brings me to a very important point.
This past week, a PhD professor at Florida Atlantic University in the United States was dismissed from his tenured position for questioning the very suspicious “mass shooting” supposed to have occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
I have not read every bit of critique which Dr. James Tracy (the unfortunate professor) has written concerning this “massacre”, but what I have read harmonizes with my own take on the event (namely, that it was a staged, false-flag type psychological operation).
And so Dr. Tracy has become a parallel to all of those poor souls who had to suffer the ignominy of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in May 1960.
Why do I focus on this particular hearing? Because it was released as an LP album in 1962 by the invaluable Folkways Records (today Smithsonian Folkways).
Find this record.
Listen particularly to Witness #5.
Spotify lists each track as being by the artist “Unspecified”.
This is the same type of recognition which would have accrued to topless mothers in the Sahara singing their babies to sleep (while the tape recorder preserved their performance for all time).
Americans had become nameless.
And so next time someone asks you about your favorite musical artists you can refer to the Folkways catalog and answer, “Well, I’m a big fan of ‘A young girl singing’, but I also like ‘A young woman’. But then, not much beats ‘Aboriginal Songman’. In fact, I met him once and I was quite nervous. I said, ‘Mr. Songman. Can I call you Aboriginal? Al??? I would really appreciate an autograph!'”
But I digress…
Dear friends, we can rescue the names from history. Witness #5 is actually still alive. He is and always will be William Mandel.
Mr. Mandel took the stand and railed against the bigots in San Francisco on that Folkways LP of the “Un-American” hearings.
In the estimable Mr. Mandel we have a parallel to Mr. Macabee (Rupert’s father) from A King in New York.
The trials which inspired Chaplin were to continue (1957 film, 1960 LP).
The trials continue today. Dr. James Tracy is now a “conspiracy theorist”. If the New York Times says it’s so, then it must be so.
Until we drop like flies, we will continue to speak out like Rupert.
We will continue to combine art and politics like Charlie Chaplin.
No profession gives one a free pass to opt out of engagement. Disengagement is a decision.
Chaplin fought back. The world’s greatest funnyman felt compelled to speak up.
Perhaps Rupert is really 6079 Smith W.
Perhaps Room 101 is betraying oneself. Being eaten alive. By cowardice. Until death.
Occasionally pop art transcends. Witness Radiohead’s “2 + 2 = 5” from the perfect album Hail to the Thief. At the height of the Bush junta this British avant-pop band had the stones to dish out a God-save-the-Queen to the slimy bastards dragging the world down.
The late David Bowie made a valiant effort on his best album Diamond Dogs.
We speak, of course, about 1984 and the protagonist Winston Smith.
Orwell’s novel was a mere eight years old in 1957.
Perhaps little Rupert is an evocation of Winston Smith. And we know that Rupert’s fortitude lived on in the aforementioned William Mandel.
But now we come to a new era. A new era which is so old.
The lamentable treatment of Dr. James Tracy.
The enshrinement of Terrorism as the new state religion of the United States.
Even for a non-communist such as myself, it is apparent that capitalism must always expand.
When it comes to terrorism (both “foreign” and “domestic”), the Ministry of Truth has spoken.
Our only hope is the voice of opposition. It is therefore quite apt indeed that Dr. Tracy’s excellent blog (which incidentally led to his thoughtcrime conviction by FAU) should be named Memory Hole… (http://memoryholeblog.com/).
And it is hopeful that said blog has more hits than the Wikipedia page for “Memory hole”.