21 August 2022
19 April 2022
02 March 2022
ENGLISH TEXT BELOW
Avendo escluso un conflitto diretto con la Russia per difendere l'Ucraina, i paesi occidentali hanno concentrato la loro azione ritorsiva su sanzioni di vario tipo. Prima di tutto sanzioni economiche, mirate ai beni dei massimi dirigenti russi, degli oligarchi che li sostengono e dei politici che ne avallano le decisioni. Le sanzioni già messe in atto, e quelle proposte, sono pesanti, toccano il commercio, la finanza, la ricchezza personale di tanti sostenitori di Putin, la loro libertà di viaggiare ecc. Il loro impatto è già notevolissimo sui destinatari e lo sarà ancora di più nei mesi a venire. Ci sarà anche un impatto sui paesi che le impongono, ma che sono pronti a sopportare il prezzo, almeno fino ad un certo punto.
Infatti, ad oggi, è escluso dalle sanzioni il settore energetico, che costituisce una delle due fonti principali di entrata per il commercio internazionale della Russia. (L'altra sono le armi che, con qualche eccezione - vedi sistemi antiaerei russi comprati dalla Turchia - comunque andavano verso altre parti del mondo: Cina e India in primis, e non saranno sanzionate.)
Immagino pochi tra i miei lettori abbiamo mai comprato cacciabombardieri o artiglieria pesante russi, anche se sono di ottima qualità. A parte il gas ed il petrolio che consumiamo tutti i giorni, alzi la mano chi ha mai comprato qualcosa con su scritto MADE IN RUSSIA. Personalmente l'unica cosa che mi è capitato di acquistare sono pinoli sbucciati della Siberia. Ottimi peraltro, li uso tutti i giorni nell'insalata. Non so se i pinoli saranno oggetto di sanzione. E comunque ci sono ottimi pinoli italiani, anche se molto più cari, o cinesi. Dunque vedremo quale sarà l'impatto reale sull'economia russa.
Certo, il blocco del North Stream 2 da parte della Germania pesa. E pesa oggi anche la demonizzazione ideologica delle centrali nucleari e dei rigassificatori, in nome di un ambientalismo non supportato dalla scienza. Gli americani sono autosufficienti, ma svariati paesi europei forse pagheranno, letteralmente, con costi maggiori, la miopia di non aver diversificato sufficientemente le fonti energetiche. Più al caldo di tutti starà la Francia con le sue 57 centrali nucleari. Ma questo è un altro discorso.
La domanda principale da porsi è: qual'è lo scopo delle sanzioni economiche?
Se lo scopo è punire Putin, resta da vedere se questo avverrà. Potrebbe accadere il contrario, il despota del Cremlino potrebbe apparire la vittima della plutocrazia occidentale agli occhi del suo popolo.
Punire gli oligarchi, bloccandogli i conti correnti e gli investimenti, invece può funzionare, e siccome costoro non sono ben visti nella società russa magari l'occidente ci guadagna anche qualche punto di popolarità. Ma gli oligarchi non hanno molto potere su Putin per quanto sia dato di vedere.
Punire i politici, i membri della Duma e del Senato, i vertici militari e diplomatici può essere più utile a fomentare un dissenso ai vertici e facilitare, chissà, l'emergenza di un'alternativa. Difficile fare previsioni.
Delle sanzioni soffrirà sicuramente la popolazione russa in senso lato, e si può sperare che questo contribuisca alla sua emancipazione politica.
Però se con le sanzioni pensiamo di ottenere un cambiamento della politica estera e della grande strategia della Russia credo non dobbiamo farci illusioni. Mi auguro veramente di sbagliarmi, e nel clima politico degli ultimi giorni le sanzioni sono praticamente inevitabili. Ma se guardiamo alla storia è difficile trovare casi in cui le sanzioni abbiano fatto desistere un aggressore.
In tempi moderni le prime sanzioni furono applicate dalla Società delle Nazioni contro l'Italia a seguito dell'invasione dell'Etiopia. Risultato? Gli italiani sono restati in Etiopia fino alla guerra mondiale ed il regime fascista raggiunse l'apice della sua popolarità. Sanzioni contro il Giappone alla fine degli anni trenta? Risultato fu Pearl Harbor, non la ritirata dell'imperialismo nipponico.
Dalla fine della seconda guerra mondiale le sanzioni economiche sono state applicate contro Cuba, Corea del Nord, Iran, Iraq, Sud Africa, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Unione Sovietica, Cina, Birmania, Siria, Serbia, Argentina (al tempo della dittatura militare) tanto per citare alcuni dei principali esempi più facili da ricordare. In nessuno di questi casi hanno prodotto un cambiamento di politica, interna o estera. Hanno prodotto povertà nei paesi destinatari questo sì, e hanno fatto perdere occasioni economiche ai paesi che le hanno imposte. Spero vivamente che questa volta sia diverso, soprattutto se si andrà a toccare il settore energetico, ma ho qualche dubbio.
In questi giorni si sono scatenate poi sanzioni di altro tipo, contro artisti e sportivi russi. Se lo scopo è dare un segnale, certamente il risultato c'è, anche se ne soffriranno le competizioni sportive e i festival musicali. Ma ancora una volta, se pensiamo che questo faccia cambiare comportamento a Putin, non ci facciamo illusioni. In passato, ricordiamo il boicottaggio di varie olimpiadi da parte di blocchi di paesi contrapposti, quale fu il risultato in termini di cambiamento politico? Nulla.
Per gli artisti il discorso è ancora più difficile: in passato danzatori e musicisti sovietici riempivano le sale europee ed americane, anche ai tempi di Brezhnev e Stalin, ai tempi dei gulag dove morivano in milioni, ogni tanto qualcuno chiedeva asilo politico ma la maggior parte faceva arte e basta. Chiediamoci perché oggi debba essere diverso.
A meno che, come nel caso del direttore d'orchestra Valery Gergiev, che appoggia apertamente l'invasione della Crimea dal 2014, l'artista non usi la sua piattaforma di popolarità per prendere posizione politica, allora è lui a violare la separazione tra arte e politica e questo non dovrebbe essere ammissibile mai.
Having ruled out a direct conflict with Russia to defend Ukraine, Western countries have focused their retaliatory action on sanctions of various kinds. First of all, economic sanctions, aimed at the assets of the Russian top leaders, the oligarchs who support them and the politicians who endorse their decisions. Sanctions already implemented, and those proposed, are massive, they affect trade, finance, the personal wealth of many Putin supporters, their freedom to travel, etc. Their impact is already enormous on their targets and will be even more so in the months to come. There will also be an impact on countries that impose them, so they'd better be are ready to bear the price.
To date, the energy sector, which constitutes one of the two main sources of income for Russia's international trade, is excluded from the sanctions. (The other is weapons which, with some exceptions - see Russian anti-aircraft systems bought by Turkey - still go to other parts of the world: China and India in the first place, and will not be sanctioned.)
I imagine few of my readers have ever bought Russian fighter-bombers or heavy artillery, even if they are of excellent quality. Apart from the gas and oil we consume every day, raise your hand if you have ever bought something that says MADE IN RUSSIA on it. Personally the only thing I happened to buy are peeled pine nuts from Siberia. Excellent as they are, I use them every day in the salad, I doubt they contribute much to Russian foreign currency earnings. I don't know if pine nuts will be sanctioned. And in any case, there are excellent Italian pine nuts, even if much more expensive, or Chinese. So we will see what the real impact on the Russian economy will be.
Of course, Germany's blocking of North Stream 2 weighs heavily, on both sides of the pipeline. And so does the ideological demonization of nuclear power and regasification plants in the name of an environmentalism not supported by science. Americans are self-sufficient, but several European countries will perhaps pay, literally, with higher costs, for the myopia of not having sufficiently diversified their energy sources. France will do best with its 57 nuclear power plants. But that's another story.
The main question to ask is: what is the purpose of economic sanctions?
If the aim is to punish Putin, it remains to be seen whether this will happen. The opposite could come to pass: the Kremlin despot could appear the victim of the Western plutocracy and gain support in the eyes of his people.
Punishing the oligarchs, blocking their accounts and investments, on the other hand, can work, and since they are generally not well regarded in Russian society, perhaps the West also gains some points of popularity. But the oligarchs don't have much power over Putin as far as we can see; he has power over them.
Punishing politicians, members of the Duma and the Senate, military and diplomatic leaders and most importantly the leaders of the FSB (successor to the KGB) who are the inner sanctum of the Putin power structure, can be more useful in fomenting dissent at the top and facilitating, who knows, the emergence of an alternative. There are Russian diplomats, soldiers and diplomats who are serious professionals and seek to forster the interests of their country in the XXI century instead of plunging into hazardous international gambles that smell of nostalgic XIX century imperialism. Difficult to make predictions.
Sanctions will certainly make the Russian population suffer in a broad sense, and we can hope that this will contribute to its political emancipation. Could there be perhaps another colored revolution in Russia?
Can achieve a change in Russia's foreign policy and grand strategy through sanctions? I don't think we should be under any illusions. I really hope I'm wrong, and in the political climate of the last few days, sanctions are practically inevitable. But if we look at history, it is difficult to find cases in which sanctions have made an attacker give up.
In modern times the first sanctions were applied by the League of Nations against Italy following the invasion of Ethiopia. Result? The Italians remained in Ethiopia until the World War and the fascist regime reached the peak of its popularity. Sanctions against Japan in the late 1930s? The result was Pearl Harbor, not the retreat of Japanese imperialism.
Since the end of the Second World War, economic sanctions have been applied against Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, the Soviet Union, China, Myanmar, Syria, Serbia, Argentina (at the time of the military dictatorship), and Russia itself, to name a few of the main examples that come to mind. In none of these cases did they produce a change in policy, domestic or foreign. They have produced poverty in the recipient countries, yes, and have made those that imposed them lose economic opportunities. I sincerely hope this time will be different, given the unprecedented scale of sanctions. There might be a chance that they will work if they are expanded to touch the energy sector, but I have some doubts.
In recent days, sanctions of another type have been unleashed against Russian artists and sportsmen. If the aim is to give a visible political signal, certainly the result is there, even if sports competitions and music festivals will suffer. But again, if we think that this changes Putin's behavior, we are daydreaming. In the past, what was the result in terms of political change of the repeated boycott of the Olympics by opposing blocks of countries? Nothing.
As far as artists are concerned, the matter is even more difficult: in the past Soviet dancers and musicians filled the European and American halls, even in the times of Brezhnev and Stalin, in the times of the gulags where millions died, every now and then someone asked for political asylum but most he just made art. Let us ask ourselves why it should be different today.
Unless, as in the case of conductor Valery Gergiev, who has openly supported the invasion of Crimea since 2014, the artist uses his popularity platform to take a political stand, then he is the one who violates the separation of art and politics and this should never be allowed.
28 February 2022
Considerazioni sull'aggressione russa all'Ucraina / Some considerations on the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Quando lavoravo alla NATO, i rapporti con l'Ucraina sono stati per oltre 7 anni la mia principale occupazione. Ci sono stato decine di volte, anche nel Donbass, a Leopoli, in Crimea, a Kharkiv. Al di là dell'impegno professionale, mi ci ero affezionato. Per questo i fatti di questi giorni mi addolorano particolarmente e vorrei condividere qualche considerazione che mi passa per la testa.
Su una cosa sono d'accordo con John Mearsheimer e altri: in parte, Putin è un prodotto dell'occidente. L'occidente che ha umiliato la Russia di Eltsin, quando era in ginocchio. Gli USA illusi che il mondo unipolare risultato della caduta del muro di Berlino fosse un nuovo equilibrio e non una transizione. La NATO che, contrariamente a quanto promesso a Gorbachev al momento dell'unificazione della Germania, si allarga fino ai confini russi. Qualcuno aveva anche parlato di invitare la Russia stessa nella NATO, ma alla cosa non fu dato seguito.
Nel 2014 il governo di Yanukovich rinuncia ad un accordo già finalizzato con la UE e accetta invece soldi russi. La reazione porta ad una rivoluzione, ad un colpo di stato, e Yanukovich scappa in Russia. Pochi mesi dopo Putin invade la Crimea, dove i russi sono accolti con i fiori, gli abitanti della penisola non si sentono ucraini. Un'ulteriore dimostrazione che l'Ucraina ha due anime: una filo-russa ed una filo-europea, e bisogna considerarle entrambe, non si può giocare ad asso pigliatutto. Adesso forse è più difficile. E comunque non si può premiare l'aggressione. Però paradossalmente potrebbe essere più facile: anche tanti cittadini ucraini di etnia russa non vorranno stare sotto Putin.
L'unica strada che resta aperta, che non si sarebbe mai dovuta chiudere, è quella del compromesso tra le due anime del paese. Decentralizzazione amministrativa, uso della lingua russa nel Donbass e in Crimea. Sul piano internazionale, la finlandizzazione resta una soluzione privilegiata: appartenenza alla UE ma non alla NATO. E comunque la Finlandia (come l'Austria e la Svezia, altri due neutrali) ha ottimi rapporti con la NATO e stretta collaborazione militare. Ogni altra soluzione porterà a perpetuare il conflitto.
07 August 2021
Before he departs, he privately orders his Japanese interpreter, Takahashi, to locate his Japanese girlfriend, Aya Shimada.
After arresting Tojo, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur asks Fellers, whom he recognizes as a Japan expert, for advice about whether Emperor Hirohito can't be tried as a war criminal. Doing so could lead to a revolt, but the American people want the Emperor to stand trial for Japan's actions. MacArthur gives Fellers ten days to investigate the Emperor. When Takahashi informs Fellers that Aya's Tokyo apartment was bombed, he orders him to investigate her hometown, Shizuoka.
|MacArthur and Hirohito|
A well constructed historical drama, very close to actual events, interwoven with a love story that probably is not so realistic but serves the purpose of this film. The film does not answer the million-dollar question, was the Emperor responsible for the war? But it does help to understand he deserves some credit for Japan's decision to surrender and therefore end the war.
29 January 2021
In 1971, on a routine outing through the Cambodian countryside, the young French scholar Francois Bizot was captured by the Khmer Rouge. Accused of being an agent of American imperialism, he was chained and imprisoned. His captor, Duch, later responsible for tens of thousands of deaths at the Tuol Sleng prison, interviewed him at length; after three months of torturous deliberation, during which his every word was weighed and his life hung in the balance, he was released. No other Western prisoner survived. Four years later, the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh. Francois Bizot became the official intermediary between the ruthless conqueror and the terrified refugees behind the gate of the French embassy: a ringside seat to one of history's most appalling genocides.
Bizot was incredibly lucky to see what he saw and come out alive, then move on to survive in Phnom Penh for several more years and write a harrowing and unique account of the Khmer Rouge rule. The gate of the French embassy, where many notables of the old regime had found refuge, and through which they will have to walk to their fate in the hands of the communists. A unique first-hand experience that very few western writers have been able to share so much in detail. He talks to many revolutionary soldiers and discusses politics as well as the details of day-to-day existence, the next harvest, education. Reading him is almost as good as having been there, without the dangers and the discomfort!
Read about my trip to Cambodia here.
See my reviews of other books on Cambodia here in this blog.
01 March 2020
Scott Hicks' screen adaptation of David Guterson's best-selling novel. On San Pietro Island, shortly after the end of World War Two, local fisherman Kazuo (Rick Yune) is on trial for the murder of another fisherman. The hearings are attended by Ishmael (Ethan Hawke), a local reporter who was also the childhood sweetheart of Kazuo's wife, Hatsue. As the hearings progress, Ishmael gradually begins to realize the extent of anti-Japanese feelings which still remains, and suspects that it could affect the course of the trial.
A gripping historical novel about a lesser-known (unless you are a Japanese-American) aspect of domestic politics in the USA during and after World War II. A dark page in American democracy but a message of hope at the end. Also, it shows how immigrants in the American melting pot do not always, well, melt in the pot but keep cultural, if not political, affiliations to their country of origin.
You can buy the book here
Compra la versione italiana qui
04 February 2019
29 January 2019
The "Iro" was not a "maru", like most wrecks in the Chuuk lagoon, ie it was not a merchant transport converted to military uses. It was an oil tanker built in 1921-22 expressly for the imperial Japanese navy. Funny she was powered by coal, was a steamer, even though she carried oil for the engines of other ships. One of only 9 oilers in the Japanese navy in WWII, a major weakness.
It participated in most major WWII operations, except Pearl Harbor. During the course of the war, it was hit many times but survived.
It was finally hit by a torpedo in her bow near the Philippines which chopped off a whole bite of the hull at the very front edge. In March 1944 it was limping on her way to Chuuk to be repaired when she learned of operation Desecrate, the American attack on Palau, and she was ordered to Palau, the next maritime line of defense for the imperial navy.
There she was again attacked and finally sunk.
It was salvaged in the 1950s, the Japanese recuperated the bodies and valuable metals but... the boat bringing the remains of the Iro's sailors and any valuables back to Japan sink en route!
The Iro now rests upright, stern sank first and is deep under the sand with prop and rudder clearly visible. A most interesting set of dives.
21 May 2018
As we disembark we see piles of coal at the harbor, they tell us it is still extensively used for home heating! We have a guide who is obviously a Catholic nationalist, here is a few points from his explanations during the day.
Now Northern Ireland is trying to revive the shipbuilding industry concentrating on repairs, 800 workers, used to have more than 25000. The Titanic, of course, was built here. Biggest exports from Northern Ireland are farm products, lamb cheese, and machinery.
Belfast now has 500,000+ inhabitants, 10th largest city in the in the UK. In 1888 queen Victoria gave Belfast city status.
Giant causeway, since 1996 UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in NI. It was formed 50 million years ago by volcanic eruptions and is made up of about 40,000 stones.
The Vikings ruled here from the 9th to 11th century, then Anglo Saxons in 12th , build castles. Later English and Scottish domination take best land, Irish discriminated against.
1588 shipwrecks of Armada, uncharted waters on West coast of Ireland
1845 to 1852 famine 1 million died, another million migration to America
Catholics persecuted, Gaelic language prohibited during protestant reformation
Why the UK keep North Ireland after Irish independence in 1922:
- strategic reason: feel vulnerable to attack from Atlantic
- economic: 6 counties in ni richest, textile shipbuilding. At partition Northern Ireland had 80% of the island's gdp, today 9%.
- just over 50% in Ulster wanted to remain in the UK.
Unionists wanted NI to be a "protestant priority" land. In the late 1960s lots of catholic uprising, they were inspired by the American Civil rights movement, discrimination against Catholics similar to that against blacks in the USA
even segregation, created enclaves, separated by so-called peace walls still visible.
The army was sent in. In 1971 cases of internment of Catholics without trial
powers to army directed against Catholics, up to 5 years in jail without charge.
Demonstrations in Derry but the UK deployed parachute regiments
barricaded and 28 civilian shot 14 dead on bloody Sunday 1972
Belfast very divided city, conflict until 1994 the start negotiating. Good Friday agreement in 1998. But still divided, built more "peace walls" after the Good Friday agreement.
In many ways a backward country, everyone got the right to vote in local elections 1973, before that one had to be a landowner!
10 May 2018
When Xiaoping joins the military, delicate dreams are dashed by the events of a China undergoing revolution. The devastating Sino-Vietnamese war crashes into 1970s China, changing the lives of the Army's young new recruits forever.
In this epic spanning several decades, Youth shows Comrades of the People's Liberation Army fight amongst themselves as much as on the battlefield – and cause as much damage as the war that tore their lives apart.
Incredibly passionate and captivating historical film about life in China during the huge transformations that took place after Mao's death. A love story starts during the excesses of the cultural revolution with the "great helmsman" still in power, and the trauma of the war against Vietnam in 1979. After that, rapid reforms make many Chinese rich, and many officials corrupt, but the human story of the protagonists carries through the ages. One man's good deeds are taken for granted and not appreciated any more.
The film was supposed to be released just before the 2017 party congress but it was held up until after the congress itself for some reason. Maybe because it contains thinly veiled criticism of Mao and also raises many questions about the new system of the country.
A strongly recommended film about how China became what it is today.
See other film on China reviewed in this blog.
10 November 2016
Diary of a young American Passionist missionary who is sent deep into China to preach and help. Theophane is just twenty-five years old when he travels to Hunan, learns the language and starts four years of intensive work against all odds.
According to the Passionist Historical Archives, Father Theophane Maguire, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1898-1975) was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania. He attended St. Joseph's Jesuit Prep in Philadelphia. There he became interested in the Passionists and decided to enter the novitiate in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On August 13, 1917 he professed his vows and received the name Theophane. He was ordained on October 28, 1923 and quickly was assigned to the Passionist mission in Hunan, China. After he returned from the mission in 1929 he wrote Hunan Harvest which was published in 1946.
Back in the United States he went to Pittsburgh and eventually to Union City where he was editor of Sign magazine. Later in Pittsburgh he did fund-raising and worked at the retreat house. His later years were at the Passionist monastery, North Palm Beach, Florida. His last days were spent at the Passionist infirmary of Brighton, Massachusetts.
Unique book by an ardent Christian missionary in one of the least known provinces of China. Magire writes well and draws the reader into the harsh reality he experiences every day.
He is very dedicated to the people of Hunan, but even more to their souls, which he wants to "harvest" for Jesus Christ. It is an attitude one often finds in Christian missionaries around the world. While he humbly serves his superiors and is truly compassionate with the Chinese, he does betray a kind of complex of superiority. He writes (p.24) that training of missionaries in the local languages is a good idea because "it is a matter of results, which in this case is to be reckoned in souls. We were to deliver a doctrine entirely new to these people. We were to deliver a message that is supernatural. It is opposed to beliefs that are rooted in centuries of obstinate tradition. it slashes at old habits and widely observed superstitions." Well many Chinese are superstitious indeed, but I am not sure they are more so than Westerners on average, and in any case the incredible wealth of Chinese culture can hardly be dismissed as just a matter of superstition,. many would argue that religion itself, any religion, is superstition.
While he does endure lots of suffering, one can see he and his colleagues are often privileged compared to their fellow Chinese helpers: for example he is depicted as traveling on horseback while his Chinese companions are on foot.
At the end of the book, he seems to worry more about the future of Christian proselytism in Hunan than about the horrors of the civil war or the gathering storm of the Japanese invasion.
Another interesting aspect of the book is that he pays a lot of attention to the minorities of China, especially the Miao people whom he met on several occasions.
He is also a careful painter of scenes of everyday life in rural China where warlords called the shots and the rule of law enforced by the state was nowhere to be seen: the Emperor is far away, as an old Chinese saying goes.
The book is also valuable because it contains lots of drawings that convey a sense of the atmosphere where father Maguire worked for four years. I reproduce them here.
12 June 2013
The film is about a photograph by James Rosenthal, one of the most famous war pictures of all times. Thematically ambitious and emotionally complex, Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers is an intimate epic with much to say about war and the nature of heroism in America. Based on the non-fiction bestseller by James Bradley (with Ron Powers), and adapted by Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis (Jarhead screenwriter William Broyles Jr. wrote an earlier draft that was abandoned when Eastwood signed on to direct), this isn't so much a conventional war movie as it is a thought-provoking meditation on our collective need for heroes, even at the expense of those we deem heroic.
In telling the story of the six men (five Marines, one Navy medic) who raised the American flag of victory on the battle-ravaged Japanese island of Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945, Eastwood takes us deep into the horror of war (in painstakingly authentic Iwo Jima battle scenes) while emphasizing how three of the surviving flag-raisers (played by Adam Beach, Ryan Phillippe, and Jesse Bradford) became reluctant celebrities – and resentful pawns in a wartime publicity campaign – after their flag-raising was immortalized by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in the most famous photograph in military history.
A typically Eastwood approach. He takes a highly unusual point of view to reveal the lesser known aspects of a very well known subject matter, in this case the flag raising photograph of the battle of Iwo Jima. Of the six men, three were killed in action a few days later. This is not a film meant to show bravery, though there is plenty of it. It is a cynical film to show how the American war propaganda machine manipulated the three survivors of the flag raising to ... raise money for war bonds. We learn how the flag itself was a coveted object of contention among politicians and military leaders. And how in the end those who were less interested in the iconic photograph were the people in it. They were there to do a job, and being in a photograph was not part of it.
Pretty amazing CGI. For example, technicians artificially reproduce the Pacific theather as a background for the rugged terrain in Iceland where the film was actually shot! You can see it's not real, but it's pretty close to look real.
Watch this film together with "Letters from Iwo Jima", also by Clint Eastwood, that tells the story of the battle from a Japanese point of view. I will review this most interesting film soon in this blog.
Region free BD
Buy the book here
Approccio tipicamente Eastwoodiano. Clint affronta l'argomento da un punto di vista molto inusuale per rivelare gli aspetti più nascosti di una vicenda ultranota, in questo caso la celebre foto della bandiera di Iwo Jima. Dei sei uomini nella foto, tre sono morti in combattimento nei giorni successivi. La macchina della propaganda bellica americana ha manipolato gli altri tre allo scopo di raccogliere fondi per finanziare il prosieguo della guerra. (Siamo a Febbraio 1945 ed il Giappone non ha ancora nessuna intenzione di arrendersi.)
Alla fine si capisce come i sei personaggi nella foto erano i meno interessati alla foto stessa: erano a Iwo per uno scopo ben preciso, e posare in una fotografia non rientrava nei loro compiti.
Buoni effetti speciali: i tecnici hanno ricreato lo sfondo dello sbarco e lo hanno inserito dietro le montagne islandesi dove si sono svolte le riprese. Sembra quasi vero.
Consiglio di vedere questo film con "Lettere da Iwo Jima", sempre di Clint Eastwood, che racconta come quella drammatica battaglia fu vissuta dai giapponesi.
BD in italiano
Compra il libro in italiano qui
19 March 2013
|Buy the poster by clicking here|
Casablanca: a French colonial city during WW II: still governed by unoccupied Vichy France, with a daily flight to neutral Portugal, from where ships sailed regularly to America. A city easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you're wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American in love with Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more...
The film is bursting with memorable quotes!
So much has been said about this film that it would be presumptuous of me to add anything. I will try to sum it all up in one question, however. Casablanca is about a fundamental choice some people have to make at some crucial point in their lives. The question this film leaves us with is a difficult one. What is more important: finding love or fighting for freedom?
16 March 2013
A rhapsodic celebration of song, a brutal condemnation of wartime mentality, and a lyrical statement of hope within darkness; even amongst the riches of 1950s' Japanese cinema, The Burmese Harp, directed by Kon Ichikawa (Alone Across the Pacific, Tokyo Olympiad), stands as one of the finest achievements of its era.
|Mizushima taught a Burmese boy to play his harp|
A visually extraordinary and deeply moving vision of horror, necessity, and redemption in the aftermath of war, Ichikawa's breakthrough film is one of the great humanitarian affirmations of the cinema.
Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and honoured at the Venice Film Festival. You can watch a trailer here.
02 March 2013
|Fallaci in Vietnam|
Prima il Vietnam, poi Città del Messico e infine la storia d’amore con Alekos Panagulis, eroe della Resistenza greca, simbolo dell’opposizione a qualunque regime liberticida. (Puoi leggere le sue poesie qui.) Dopo la pubblicazione di Un Uomo, Oriana riesce a creare un incantamento globale: vorrebbero essere come lei i tanti giovani e molte donne, per le quali la scrittrice rappresenta la realizzazione di un sogno.
In quegli anni Fallaci accetta i sempre più frequenti inviti a incontrare i suoi lettori stranieri, nelle città e nelle università del mondo. Questo libro raccoglie alcune delle sue conferenze di maggior rilievo, pagine rimaste finora inedite che rivelano il suo rapporto con la scrittura, la sua passione per la politica e per l’impegno civile, la sua “ossessione per la libertà”.
È il suo autoritratto più autentico, una sorta di manifesto in cui Oriana rivendica e difende con vigore il diritto a “stare dalla parte dell’umanità, suggerire i cambiamenti, innamorarci dei buoni cambiamenti, influenzare un futuro che sia un futuro migliore del presente” (dalla sovracoperta del libro)
Ad Oriana Fallaci è dedicato un sito web.
15 February 2013
From the acclaimed producer of John Woos Red Cliff and Jet Lis Warlords, comes this powerhouse biopic of the legendary Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
In 500 B.C., during China's Spring and Autumn Period, Kong Ze (Confucius), a commoner reverred for his outstanding wisdom, is made Minister of Law in the ancient Kingdom of Lu. Under his inspired leadership, Lu ascends to new heights but becomes a target of conquest for the warlike nation of Qi. Threatened with annihilation by their powerful neighbour, a desperate people turn to their greatest teacher to lead their most powerful army. When Confucius delivers a stunning victory against all odds, a jealous aristocracy sets out to destroy him, but they under-estimated a remarkable man whose wisdom is more powerful than the sword.
With breathtaking cinematography from Oscar-winning director of photography, Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Confucius is a compelling invitation to discover the remarkable story of one of history's greatest heroes.
An impressive big budget movie that will teach you a lot about Confucius and China in the VI-V centuries B.C. Huge sets have been build to replicate imperial palaces and other scenery. Acting is excellent, with Chow Yun-fat at his best.
The script is a bit confusing however, maybe it needs to be watched a few times. Too many intrigues and intertwined stories make it hard to follow.
For travelers, the most famous of innumerable quotes by Confucius is «A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.»
You can watch the theatrical trailer here.
You can see a selection of movies on China I have reviewed on this blog here.
07 February 2013
After directing two of the most extraordinary movies of the 1970s, Badlands and Days of Heaven, American artist Terrence Malick disappeared from the film world for twenty years, only to resurface in 1998 with this visionary adaptation of James Jones’s 1962 novel about the World War II battle for Guadalcanal. A big-budget, spectacularly mounted epic, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most deeply philosophical films ever released by a major Hollywood studio, a thought-provoking meditation on man, nature, and violence. Featuring a cast of contemporary cinema’s finest actors—Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking, Milk), Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides, Affliction), Elias Koteas (Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), and Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, The People vs. Larry Flynt) among them—The Thin Red Line is a kaleidoscopic evocation of the experience of combat that ranks as one of cinema’s greatest war films.