Culture and politics forum

Are european values better than American?

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    In order to get off the Laos thread I'll start the ball rolling here by bringing up the American entertainment industry.

    America produces fine series like 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'The Wire' but why do they have to steal our history and our ideas?

    I'll give two examples.

    During WWII. H.M.S Bulldog captured the first Enigma coding machine from U110.
    Not according to Hollywood it was captured from U571 by an American ship.
    Surely America has enough history of gallantry without stealing ours.

    In the 1990's The Dutch produced a fine psychological thriller called 'The Vanishing' the ending is horrific. The boyfriend, who has been searching for his girlfriend for months, meets the kidnapper who offers to show him what happened.First he must be transported to a secret location and has to take a sleeping pill.He awakens in a coffin. End of film.
    No, Hollywood has to remake it with Jeff Bridges and there must be a happy ending for the American public, after all it would be to profoundly shocking to end the film as the Europeans did.
    Maybe you've also noticed that most villains and terrorists in Hollywood films are European.Think 'Die Hard.'

    #1 Posted: 22/10/2011 - 17:31

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    Well, first of all, with rare exception, Hollywood and reality have little to do with each other. Ever watch the movie "Black Hawk Down"? I fought in that battle. The movie was a cliche ridden farce. Why? The real story was better than the made up version. The answer is simple, Hollywood is making movies to make money. And simpler, cliche ridden story lines appeal to the general public. If you have to portray reality, with lots of characters (instead of making composite ones), staffs working on difficult problems (instead of some commander shooting from the hip) and so forth, it doesn't have that kind of mass appeal. And they want mass appeal. U 571 is a perfect example. First of all, the British had already broken enigma prior to the capture of a machine at sea. So it was a nice take, but hardly crucial. But if its not crucial, then the drama is gone... Secondly, if it's Brits doing the capturing (and it wasn't very dramatic either) then that story doesn't appeal as well to the US market, and that's the big market. Eurpean film makers can't compete with Hollywood on the big stuff - they don't have that kind of robust industry. So instead, they work the art house film market, which appeals in particular to European intellectual tastes. Precisely because they are not happy endings, they seem more serious (that most of them suck doesn't seem to matter as much). So, just as you painted here Sayadian, European intellectuals love those kind of films and also love to bash Hollywood. Dovetails nicely. Lost in that shuffle is the little fact that Hollywood films make far more money in Europe than European films, because the average Joe in Europe would much rather watch "Terminator II" than the Grass / Schlöndorff piece of ****, the Tin Drum. And the Tin Drum is probably the most successful movie of the genre.

    The quesiton is, are movies about art or about entertainment. Hollywood answered "entertainment makes more money". So yes, there is production out of Hollywood designed to inform and be artful, but it's not the mainstream. But it is yet another way in which European intellectuals like to knock the US.

    It's sort of like this. The US is (at least until recently) the richest, the most powerful, the most influential country of the 20th century. There isn't even a close number two. With Europeans in particular that rankles. They think it should be them. So they put it down every chance they get. They need to in order to preserve their world view. They don't need to do this with other countries, instead couching such criticisms far more carefully and thoughtfully in order to be intellectual. That's because there is no chance that their standing, as they see it, is going to be endangered by sub Saharan Africans or simpleton Slavs.

    #2 Posted: 22/10/2011 - 18:48

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    You miss the point Madmac.I mentioned that the U.S. makes these great, realistic,well-acted dramas like 'The Wire' and 'Boardwalk Empire' which also, incidently, make a lot of money so why can't they repeat that success in Hollywood.That is, realistic, gritty dramas; instead of churning out drivel like 'Terminator.'

    And why do they need to steal someone elses glory when they have enough of their own.If Clint Eastwood with his Pacific trilogy could do it why not others.I love his films.

    BTW I am sure you must hate 'Blackhawk Down' because of its British director and British cast. So rather than me being anti-American, which I most certainly aren't, it could be that your experiences in Europe have left you a negative take on anything European.
    Europe is bound to have more in culture because it's been there a lot longer.

    You are right U.S. was the power of the 20 century but the old girl is on the wain.People think China will be the next super-power but having first hand experience of the technical rubbish they produce and their lack of education I would say watch out for Russia.The one thing the Soviet system left intact was a brilliant education system.With her reserves of gas and oil and minerals coupled with a well-educated populace don't be surprised as Russia becomes the power player of the 21st century.
    I have everyday contact with the Russians and I am always respectful of their tough determination.So where do I place a bet?

    #3 Posted: 22/10/2011 - 21:02

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    I didn't think about Ridley Scott directing it - you're right, he's British. But he usually does good action flicks. This one was just an abortion. Everything was wrong. The Somalis weren't even Somali! I just can't watch it. If you want to know what happened there, CNN did a decent documentary on it that's on line now.

    As for stealing someone elses glory, I think the film makers are just looking for a good story to tell that they can slap "based on a true story" in the front to give the bullshit credibility. I mean, the U-571 story had no basis in reality really.

    As for "The Pacific" and "Band of Brothers" those were excellent mini-series, but it's important to note that they just broke even. They didn't make any real money. when you're fronting 100 million dollars to make a movie, you are taking a gamble, and investors want a reasonable probability of making a profit - less they risk major cash for no return or a net loss. That's the why you don't see more films like that.

    That the US would be on the wain was inevitable. But I don't think there will be a replacement. I think you will see the world increasingly diverge into a multi-polar place. China will rival the US economically, so will India, Europe is already there (it's debt problems not withstanding) and perhaps Brazil and Russia as well. And this is as it should be. I think a multi-polar world that is moving to representative institutions is a healthy thing.

    #4 Posted: 23/10/2011 - 00:01

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    Interesting discussion you have here. I just want to add a few comments.

    - I don't find the "poor" entertainment such a problem. It's just what it is: entertainment. In general I think that europeans focus a bit too much on the "art"value of things. I'm sure that the big studios have done some research on what will sell best and if a different ending (like in the Vanishing) would sell better, so be it. It's entertainment business and it's sold as such. I don't care really. Plenty of other artforms are adapted to local culture, customs and sensitivities all over the world. Bollywood films get adaptations if they want to sell in the US or europe. Western movies get adapted if they want to sell is Asia or Africa.
    Those things are more industry than art.

    - As for stealing of historic events. Hasn't that happened all through the centuries? "The winner writes history" has been in effect for centuries and centuries. The British have done it during their "reign" and now the Americans do it. Read the history books in schools from Russia to Britain to France to Greece and China. All superpowers at one stage and The atrocities are always left out or downplayed while the glorious things always get emphasized.
    Look at a movie such as Gandhi. Sure, the good person is Gandhi and the villains are the British but they are not portrayed as bad as they really were. Other example could be all the sagas about King Arthur and movies about the crusades. Hardly a decent description of actual events but great heroics from the British.
    Perhaps the best example: is the controversy between Newton and Leibniz (Germany) who both discovered Calculus. It was through sheer slander and historic rewriting/politics (from the more powerful British academy) that Newton went down as the discoverer/inventor of Calculus and consequently the basis of gravitational theory.

    #5 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 09:58

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    Having said all that, I do love the movie "Kurz and Schmerzlos" and alsop enjoyed "14 Tage, Lebenslaenglich". Those were cool flicks!

    #6 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 11:13

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Did Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels go down well in the States?
    The tongue in cheek gangster movie genre invented in the UK-brilliant and copied many times after that.

    Surely the whole point of The Vanishing was the gruesome ending; to give you that feeling of horror as if you were in the mind of the killer and emphasises how obsession drives us to do crazy things (in this case take a sleeping pill given by a killer.)

    'As for stealing of historic events. Hasn't that happened all through the centuries? "The winner writes history" '

    But in this case the winner took it off the winner since they fought on the same side.

    Why do you think all European films have to be arty?
    'Das Boot' is a great drama. Depicting men under the strain of warfare rather than being a war film. You wouldn't call that an art film, would you?

    #7 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 14:37

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    The problem with "Das Boot" is it sucked. Critics liked it, precisely because it ws trying to be an anti-war film. But the acting was mostly bad and overdone.

    #8 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 18:50

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    ...and of course John Wayne in 'They were expendable' was much more realistic and better acted. You're a hard man to please. Most people see Das Boot as a classic alongside 'all quiet on the Western Front.
    Or maybe you prefer 'The Green Berets.' good ol' patriotic hogwash.

    #9 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 20:01

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    Sayadian
    The big difference is "They were Expendable" and "The Green Berets" are trying to entertain and make money. They aren't trying to be realistic. John Wayne didn't do real stories. If you wanted a really good, gritty western, then you watched something like "Unforgiven" (which was still very entertaining). "Das Boot" was trying to take itself and the subject seriously. The big problem with a lot of war films that are of the artsy variety (like the This Red line - which also sucked) is they are trying to be anti-war. The days when artists glorified warfare are long over. Once you start out with a position that isn't based on reality or experience, and are trying to educate while doing it - you're screwed.
    So am I hard to please? Well, when it comes to movies about warfare, I sure am. Because I have a lot of experience with warfare so BS is easy for me to identify.

    #10 Posted: 24/10/2011 - 22:48

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  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    How about 'The Cruel Sea' maybe a bit before your (and my time)
    that's a war film about Atlantic convoys based on the book by Nicholas Montserrat.Look it up. Or 'Ice cold in Alex' another classic of the '50's.
    Now I don't know much about the navy but my father reckoned 'The Cruel Sea' was a true picture of life on a destroyer and he knew as he spent 3 years fighting the Germans in The Med. Incidentally he rated 'Das Boot'. and he didn't have much time for U-boats as he knew that they machine-gunned helpless survivors in the water.

    #11 Posted: 25/10/2011 - 01:08

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6339
    Total reviews: 10

    I saw the cruel sea when I was kid in Elementary school. That was four decades ago. I can't even remember it anymore. Never saw Ice Cold in Alex either. But in general, good war films are very difficult to come by. I suppose it's true of other genres too. I know when I watch cop TV shows, the case has to be solved in an hour, so the evidence is always collected and analyzed incredibly rapidly, which must seem ludicrous to your serving policeman.

    #12 Posted: 25/10/2011 - 02:32

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