Hollywood is floundering. The major film studios won’t admit it yet, but Hollywood filmmakers’ lemming-like attraction to anti-Western and anti-American themes is driving Tinseltown to bankruptcy. US audiences today simply refuse to spend their money to see enemy propaganda.Why is that? I've long loved movies. From my childhood Saturdays (and sometimes Sundays) in the local theater, through my teens with girl-buddies or dates, I remember the thrill of sitting in a dark place, totally wrapped up in a story that came at me out of the darkness.
The sheer size of the screen pushed the experience right through my skin, propelled by the enveloping sound waves. For those brief hours, I was enraptured and encased in the sensory massage, and emerged, later, a little disoriented.
I didn't spend my time watching classics - well, unless you count Japanese horror and Disney cartoons as such. I cheered for Rodin, Godzilla, and their brethren to survive against a modern world, knowing, all the time, that they would disappear into a watery grave (notice how the Japanese never had a body disposal problem? The outsize monsters obligingly use proper recycling techniques, and let the ocean take care of the remains.)
Later, as a young woman, I saw The Graduate, Alice's Restaurant, Romeo & Juliet, Funny Girl, and other popular films. I don't believe I ever saw "daring" or experimental movies - it was strictly top releases for me.
I haven't changed in my tastes - I've only lighted briefly on the Sundance Channel, on my way to another show. But Hollywood used to put out a product that I found worth the money. It is beginning to do so again.
Recently, I've seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and last weekend, Batman Begins.
Why have the successes overwhelmed the many recent box-office failures? What's the difference between Return of the King, and Kingdom of Heaven?
Well, for starters, try morality.
Not what morality means to the elite - a prissy, self-righteous avoidance of FUN. Not holding grimly to a Bible, and standing aloof from sex, sensual pleasure, and just enjoying the world.
No, I mean a conscious choice to defend the weak, take a stand, and risk safety and fortune to defy evil. That's the message of the Tolkien trilogy. Such a stance is not safe, not easy, and requires personal sacrifice and diligence. It can be undertaken even by the weak and foolish, if they choose. This point of view is that moral courage is not merely for the physically strong, nor the brave. He may succeed, whose voice is shaking with fear, and whose body fails. The honor is in trying.
That's why I love Batman Begins. It takes a moral stance. Batman is a highly flawed character. He is deeply fearful of bats. He puts barriers between himself and those who would love him. He makes an agreement with the League of Shadows to work with them. He trains to become a killing machine.
Then his morality kicks in.
He cannot bring himself to act as an executioner for the League. He is brought up against a piece of his fundamental morality, and he takes a stand.
He pays a large price for his refusal to go along. He is once again set adrift, alone. But, this time, he is no longer lost. He has reclaimed his self, by reaching inside and defining his morality.
He still has personal issues. He doesn't yet have his focus on his mission.
But, by reclaiming his morality, he has set himself on firm ground. He is no longer a lost wanderer.