Okay, here’s Part 5 of Grimwald’s Alternative Media where yours truly will recommend things that you can read, watch or play instead of destroying your brain cells with local bovine manure.
So, without further ado…
Ah, here’s a good one. A nice, if somewhat depressing film, directed by Steven Spielberg himself and stars Liam Neeson of Taken fame, Ralph Fiennes whom Harry Potter fans can immediately identify as the noseless villain Voldemort and Ben Kingsley, who is quite famous for portraying Mahatma Gandhi and the fake Mandarin of Iron Man 3. It’s quite an old film now but remains a classic to some because of its portrayal of the horrors that Jewish people had to endure during World War II. The film is shot almost completely in black and white to present both a “vintage” look and to underline the dark tone of the setting.
The film is based on the book Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally and is an adaptation of the life of businessman Oskar Schindler during World War II. While some events have been embellished, one can say that the film is fairly accurate in its portrayal of those times when Nazi ideology held sway over Germany and its conquered territories.
Anyway, Oskar Schindler is portrayed, at least initially, as a greedy businessman seeking to take advantage of his Jewish workers who were already being discriminated against by the Nazis. Schindler, who was portrayed by Liam Neeson, was presented as a “gray” hero instead of an all-white one as he was not just greedy but also a womanizer and a member of the Nazi party (although he joined the Nazis more because of the advantages and benefits it offered rather than an adherence to its ideology). Over time though, as he sees the horror of what the “Final Solution” is actually about, he makes a change of heart, albeit slowly, and decides to help the Jewish workers under him and somehow protect them from the terrible atrocities taking place during the Holocaust. One of the turning points of the film is a little girl wearing a red coat, one of the few things in the movie that wasn’t black and white, which Schindler spots hiding among the crowd when the Nazis come to round up the Jews and sees again later as a corpse being burned along with many other victims of the Holocaust.
Ralph Fiennes plays the role of Amon Goeth who is quite possibly one of the worst villains I’ve ever encountered. To make matters worse, it has been mentioned that Steven Spielberg had to tone down the character’s evil because the real Amon Goeth was far worse in real life. That meant that sniping people for fun, summarily executing people and beating hapless women were the believable actions he committed, one can only wonder what else he did. Anyway, I will cite Amon Goeth as one of the best examples of a Jingoist as mentioned in one of my previous articles. While he was without a doubt a Nazi, he merely used his ideology as an excuse to satisfy his murderous impulses. I often stress to people that while Hitler’s regime was not without its merits, the presence of people like Amon Goeth and Josef Mengele in the Nazi party and Hitler’s willingness to tolerate them and their heinous acts is what really ruined Hitler’s reputation and shamed his country.
From a more personal point of view, I must say that the film is like a look at human nature and what true heroism is actually like. Both good and evil are choices I think and people do not have them by default. While Schindler was essentially a flawed man, he stepped up when people needed someone to save them. He made great sacrifices and risked his life to protect people he barely even knew because it was the right thing to do. On the other hand, you have Amon Goeth who also had a chance to do what was right. Schindler told him that showing mercy was a sign of greater power than cruelty and yet, still, Goeth chooses evil and kills a boy for petty reasons.
I’m a big fan of both strategy and tactical games and Valkyria Chronicles and its sequels are some of my personal favorites to be placed alongside XCOM: Enemy Within. Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical game like the aforementioned XCOM games but takes place in a setting not unlike that of World War II Europe. The setting is even called Europa, an antiquated name for Europe. It plays similar to XCOM in that you control a division of soldiers in various battlefields.
However, the major selling point of Valkyria Chronicles is its characters. Almost every soldier on the side of the protagonists has a name, a unique appearance and a personality to match. Some of the most memorable ones would probably be the friendly but tough gay guy and the crazy one-eyed flower shop owner. Every one of them has a unique motivation for joining the military as is often the case in real life. But, due to the fact that the story takes place in a time of war, the death of some characters is simply unavoidable and, believe me, if you’ve played the game and enjoyed it you will miss them.
I must say that this game reminded me all too much of what our military and police forces have to endure to keep our country safe and orderly. Unlike most strategy games, Valkyria Chronicles shows that every soldier is unique and every life is precious. While war is sometimes necessary to protect those we love, it can often be very terrible and that no one can ever really be considered expendable.
Despite what a certain egotistical tikbalang who thinks it’s being funny at your local TV station might say, this is, hands down, one of the better shows out there. While the creator has certainly taken liberties with some of the historical facts, it’s still quite loyal to the kind of setting Japan was during the Meiji Restoration. The anime is kind of old now and most people seem to know the film trilogy a lot better but both are worth watching if you want to get a better idea of what Japan was like back when foreigners had a growing presence there and how politics actually works.
I don’t want to spoil anyone with details although most of you are probably aware of Kenshi Himura or Shishio “the mummy” already. History, I think is very important for any culture and showing the youth the correct one instead of presenting them with over-embellished and heavily biased stories will just ruin them in the long run. Take note that while many adult Filipinos (with childish minds) tend to scoff at animated shows like Samurai X or films adapted from animated shows (like the tikbalang mentioned above), Samurai X has proven to be a very informative show for Japanese and other nationalities who watch it compared to the many teleseryes that focus on social dysfunction we have in the Philippines.
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