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the manchurian candidate (1962, 2004)


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Note to Jeff: I dunno, I still didn't see anything that hinted at what you apparently saw, and I heard no titters at all in the audience this time. Have you seen this film a second time yet?

Alan Thomas wrote:

: I definitely saw things in the Streep party that more closely resembled

: Republicans (family dynasty . . .

Oh please -- like the Gores and Kennedys etc. aren't dynasties too?

: . . . family connections with 'holding groups', Halliburton allusions, etc.)

Well, as Streep's character points out, the Manchurian corporation spends money on both sides of the aisle, as indeed corporations like Enron did (not sure about Halliburton). So those are very, very flimsy bases on which to infer that this party is "Republican".

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: : Oh please -- like the Gores and Kennedys etc. aren't dynasties too?

:

: ...not this year, nor the next election year.

Huh?

At any rate, my comments were based on what the PARTY does in this film. Your comments are based purely on the genetic and corporate connections of a single individual.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: Peter, I think it's clear that Demme's intention was to avoid identification with

: either party. He went way out of his way to do that.

Only if you think Republicans have a lock on dynasties (which they don't, and since 2000 was only four years ago, and since some people were hoping Gore would square off against Bush again this year, you can't pretend his dynasty isn't there) and on corporate sponsorship (which they don't).

Granted, Demme's film could be taken as a criticism of the Democrats just as much as of the Republicans, in e.g. the way that the party nominates a candidate simply because he's a war veteran and not because of his policies or anything, but that may be just a coincidence; I suspect this film was in the can long before John Kerry won the primaries.

And ultimately, while Demme may have "gone out of his way" to avoid identifying the PARTY with any particular point on the political spectrum, he certainly did not go out of his way to avoid identifying the FILM with the current Democrat position on the spectrum.

BTW, does anyone have a theory yet re: my query re: the shock treatment?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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BTW, does anyone have a theory yet re: my query re: the shock treatment?

spoilers1.gif

I have a theory about it, and it goes back to a question I posed in an earlier post. In that post, I thought it too convenient that Marco just happened to have a friend so well versed in bio-mechanics. Was Bruno Ganz part of the overall conspiracy? Ganz thanks Marco, at one point, for taking part in an operation that got Ganz out of Albania. Presumably this would have been in the mid-90's during the Kosovo crisis. What if this operation was another implanted memory, one that was given to Marco in an ongoing process of mind manipulation. Raymond Shaw seemed to have regular "tune ups", so I don't think it's that far-fetched that Marco also received post-Gulf War treatments, especially considering the importance of his role in the overall scheme of things. I think that Ganz may have been a "plant", someone there to monitor Marco until the ultimate operation was ready to take place. Perhaps the electroshock was a way of switching him on. Once that happened, Ganz's shop was closed down.

I wish I got a longer look at what Marco wrote on his hand before his electroshock, because he wrote down 2 things... one of which is Rosie's telephone number. When he looks at his hand after he comes to, only Rosie's number remains on his hand. Did Ganz erase the other, and if he did, why?

Anyway, that's my theory. But it also intensifies my continuing frustrations with this movie. Too many subplots are introduced that don't provide any payoff or closure. Many of them seem haphazardly thrown in to advance the story, yet are left up in the air. This is the one film I've seen this summer which, the farther I get away from it, the less I care for it.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Saw it last night and thought it was great!

spoilers1.gif

Regarding the electro-shock thing. I was under the impression that Ganz's treatment rendered Marco free from the enslavement of the Manchurian device...which is why he shot Mom and Son Prentiss Shaw. I mean, he had a clear sight to taking Arthur out. If he was still induced to the will of the device, he woulda popped him much sooner.

Add to the fact that Rosie, the Fed, shot him in the shoulder, covered up the assasination, and most importantly, Marco survives the whole darn thing. Just my opinion...

Now I have to rent the original to compare the two...

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SPOILERS

utzworld wrote:

: Regarding the electro-shock thing. I was under the impression that Ganz's

: treatment rendered Marco free from the enslavement of the Manchurian

: device...which is why he shot Mom and Son Prentiss Shaw. I mean, he had a

: clear sight to taking Arthur out. If he was still induced to the will of the device, he

: woulda popped him much sooner.

But if he was "free from the enslavement", why did he go so far as to become the assassin in the first place? When Streep says the magic words that turn Denzel into a slave, that same washed-out colour effect sweeps over the screen, exactly the way it did when she pulled that trick on Liev Schreiber, and when the South African "doctor" did it to him.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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SPOILERS

utzworld wrote:

: Regarding the electro-shock thing. I was under the impression that Ganz's

: treatment rendered Marco free from the enslavement of the Manchurian

: device...which is why he shot Mom and Son Prentiss Shaw. I mean, he had a

: clear sight to taking Arthur out. If he was still induced to the will of the device, he

: woulda popped him much sooner.

But if he was "free from the enslavement", why did he go so far as to become the assassin in the first place? When Streep says the magic words that turn Denzel into a slave, that same washed-out colour effect sweeps over the screen, exactly the way it did when she pulled that trick on Liev Schreiber, and when the South African "doctor" did it to him.

Okay...why didn't Arthur get shot rather than the Prentiss Shaws??? It's highly unlikely that Meryl said "Shoot me". And...why did the Feds cover up the assasination in the first place?

So many questions...

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Yes, so many questions ... and they all basically stem from the filmmakers' desire to take an established story, which made perfect sense on its own, and to then erase some plot elements while throwing in some new plot twists that don't quite make so much sense ...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 3 months later...

OK, maybe seeing it on the big-screen makes this movie seem watchable or even good. But on my 32" TV, I found very little to like (save Washington and Schreiber's performances) and a whole, whole lot to make me want to quit and put in something else.

Anyway, anyone notice BeBe Winans as an FBI Agent? On the page I just linked to it notes, "The accompanying video for "In Harm's Way," is directed by the well-known movie actor Denzel Washington, making his directorial debut." Now that's interesting...

How about Robyn Hitchcock?

I might not like his movies much, but Demme does use some interesting folks for cameos...

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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  • 4 months later...

Saw this on DVD last night, and felt quite mixed about it. I think my feelings on it were exaggerated by having to go out and see Stu's band Threadbear play.

Basically I found the first 90 minutes very engaging - didn't notice the time go by, wasn't sure where it was going, classic edge of the seat type stuff.

But once I got back and watched the rest I didn't much care for it. The tension had evaporated and been replaced seemingly by more and more unlikley twists and overacting.

It's interesting that the discussion here has ended up talking about (potential) holes in the plot. I know I'm a top notch pedant, but for me films like this have to cover all the bases or they become implausible, and I just didn't feel that MC did. (FWIW I think there is a difference between a film such as this which is about a coldly calculating highly polished machine which is trying to pull off a major conspiracy and films about an "ordinary indiviual". In that type of film I might find a certain course of action unlikely, but people do strange things. But when a film like this leaves crucial pillars of the conspiracy plan to chance then I switch off.)

So we have Peter's why didn't the shock treatment prevent him being influnced. But there are a number of others . For a start there are the words that induces the hypnosis or whatever. In both cases they follow the same pattern - a nmber of variations on the character's name starting with their rank in 1991, but in total being about 7-10 words. Now for me this is a long time without one or both characters taking objections and interrupting. For the Vice Pres - he could very well interupt his mother's words asking her why she is talking to him in such a strange way. In Washington's a reckon a large percentage of army officers would correct anyone who called them being their previous lower rank. Like I said they may not do so in either case, but it seems in this example that the conspirators are taking a chance assuming that they wil be able to hypnotise in this way.

There are others as well. Why is Washington able to get to the Vice pres so often? The shoot out scene at the end seemed very unlikely - would these rooms not be checked? How come the female fed is left policing the crowd and having to run upstairs - were their only two of them? Why do th American public go for this particular ticket - 70%? As for the killing of Voight how likely is it than an accompiched canoeist would not be able to pull out of a capsized boat? Or that on seeing her father being killed Jocelyn would just wade in to tap the assain on the shoulder? Othegr people have mentionned the "how come neither of them found the chip" problem.

And possibly the biggest implausibility - when Washington tries to find some info on google he manages to fairly easily (eventhough the character's notoriety is really earned in a pre-internet era).!

Finally did anyone think the evil scientist was a bit too like Leonard Rossiter? (I mean it wasn't as dostracting as 2001 Space Odyssy, but still)

Matt

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Finally did anyone think the evil scientist was a bit too like Leonard Rossiter? (I mean it wasn't as dostracting as 2001 Space Odyssy, but still)

LOL!! My hat is off to you, Matt. It's not every day (or decade) that you see that actors name used in a character comparison.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 4 years later...

Jonathan Rosenbaum has re-posted his review from the original film's 1988 re-release. An excerpt:

The film’s method becomes most apparent in two matching tour de force set pieces, which occur almost consecutively fairly early in the film. Each scene is structured around a different kind of discontinuity and disorientation, and each makes an ironic commentary on the film as a whole by commenting on the deceptiveness of a particular kind of public spectacle.

The first set piece is a recurring nightmare dreamt by Sinatra’s character, a former member of Harvey’s captured patrol, which we gradually discover is the memory of a real event in Manchuria distorted by hypnotic suggestion — a public demonstration by a Chinese Pavlovian (Khigh Dhiegh) to his colleagues of the successful brainwashing of Harvey and his men, which culminates in Harvey murdering two of his own men under the Pavlovian’s orders.

Meanwhile, the American soldiers onstage have been hypnotized and think they’re attending a ladies’ garden club meeting in New Jersey; a 360-degree pan around the lecture hall begins with this incongruous delusion, only to arrive at the real meeting before the end of the camera movement. Thereafter, the film cuts back and forth between and gradually merges the two parallel versions of the event, and the one disquieting constant in this sequence, apart from the continuity of the lecture itself, is our identification figures, the soldiers themselves — figures who are at once the focus of the spectacle and spectators themselves. The fact that they’re all drugged and hypnotized makes them our surrogates in another way: they’re passive spectators, unable to exert any control over the proceedings. The question of their moral responsibility for what is happening remains as troubling and as uncertain as our own relation to what we’re seeing. (Later, this queasy ambivalence becomes concentrated on Harvey’s career in the States as a brainwashed assassin: his powerlessness to affect or guide his own actions matches our own impotence as spectators.) . . .

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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