Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘tragedy

Pakistan. The Uncomfortable Truth

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This may be a very uncomfortable truth but I think the world has made its moral judgement on Pakistan.  In a sense it is wonderful that the world has a collective moral conscience but it is a tragedy for the innocent Pakistanis.

Disaster

The professional aid givers, campaigners and do gooders will do their best but the simple truth is that there is a complete inertia, an ambivalence about Pakistan because of the treason that it has committed against the human race.  Sympathy for individual suffering will continue but Pakistan is reaping what it has sown.

This may lead to even bigger problems.  There are thousands yet to die as a result of the floods.  Extremist Islamists, as the psychopaths that they are, will seek to exploit this and they may succeed.  Nevertheless, it will not alter, in fact it will probably reinforce the world’s antipathy for Pakistan.

As in all such crises what is needed is leadership.  Obama emerged from nowhere to rescue America from its descent into shame.  Let us pray that a real leader comes forward for Pakistan.

Compassion Fatigue

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Let The Rest Of Them Drown

I did, I turned over this evening when the BBC News coverage of the Pakistan floods came on.

I didn’t want to see a child die on my television screen.

I can only care so much.  For everyone, charity begins at home.

Like it or not, Pakistan doesn’t have the best reputation in the world.  Of course, the individual tragedies are heart-breaking but there’s no great groundswell of public sympathy for a country that is the origin of  so much evil in the world.

A religious zealot might suggest that the rains should fall on Pakistan and Israel for weeks on end so that the world might be cleansed of its infection.

It is less brutal than the story of Noah and his Ark.

Who Is The Unfairest Of Them All?

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Amidst the roar of gunfire from the deliberate, calculated massacre by evil Israeli stormtroopers and the tragedy of a crazed lunatic in Cumbria, there is yet another political scandal that cannot be allowed to pass.

Overpaid, Incompetent And Unfair

John Fingleton, Chief Executive of the Office Of Fair Trading, the man who let the British banks off the £40 billion they stole from British consumers, turns out to be the highest paid civil servant in the country.  See here.  This is the most unfair trading of all and makes a mockery of any concept of “fairness”.

He is responsible for the disastrous failure to protect British consumers from the greedy banker robbers who plundered their accounts with outrageous and illegal charges.  He led the badly organised legal challenge to the banks thievery which the Supreme Court turned away as misdirected.  The Supreme Court then invited the OFT to revert to them on a different basis but for reasons that have never been properly explained, Fingleton just gave up.  See here for the full story.

This man is not only unfair but incompetent.  No one is responsible for more unfair treatment of British consumers than he.  It is a scandal that he is even still in his job let alone paid at such an exorbitant rate.

The Pacific

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Until more than three-quarters of the way through, I was so, so disappointed in “The Pacific”.  Of course, it had an awful lot to live up to.  “Band Of Brothers”, its forerunner, although produced as  a TV series, has to be one of the very best war movies of all time.  “The Pacific” doesn’t even come close.   That’s not to say that it isn’t excellent in its own right because it is but it isn’t in the same league, battalion or regiment as “Band Of Brothers”.

It’s a ten part series and until epsiode five I was bored.   That’s not just because there’s a lack of action – there is – but there’s also very little characterisation or story.  In “Band Of Brothers” you feel like you’re part of the platoon yourself. You grow to know and love each individual and you experience fear, grief, tension, terror alongside all of them.  It wasn’t until epsiode eight of “The Pacific” when Sergeant Basilone falls in love with Lena, marries her and is then shipped to Iwo Jima that I felt the same searing emotional intensity.  I remember when I first watched “Band Of Brothers”, each epsiode was like experiencing an intense personal tragedy.  I would feel drained, exhausted and traumatised.  It was almost too much but although it finishes well, “The Pacific” is not quite enough.  Perhaps the most moving scene of all is in epsiode nine when Eugene comforts a dying Japanese woman.  This is magnificent film making.

I think war is the ultimate movie genre.  It describes the human condition at the very edge. Like all men, I am fascinated with horror, doubt and uncertainty about how I would behave in combat.  I deplore violent films but when the story requires it, realism is essential.  A war movie should make you understand the reality in detail, explicitly and make you turn away from violence.

My old friend Bruce won an Emmy and a Golden Globe working as a producer on “Band Of Brothers” and I remember talking to him about the sound of gunfire.  He explained the effort involved in achieving a more realistic sound than ever before.  You can hear how in every movie thereafter it’s been picked up and enhanced.

“The Pacific” does take realism even further.  The spray of blood that bursts from a soldier’s body as he is hit, the red mist that appears around a group of soldiers as shrapnel lacerates them is horrifying.  The graphic dismemberment and vile, grotesque injury that nowadays we see soldiers survive is beyond words.  At times the cast is wading through a sea of body parts, of arms, legs, hands, feet.  I think we now accept the shocking reality of this because today we see the survivors of such injury. At last, in the battle for Iwo Jima, “The Pacific” begins to communicate the deeply distressing heroism, the humbling, horrifying courage that these young men, our forefathers, summoned up to free the world from tyranny and allow us to enjoy the freedom that we do today.

There is a real mistake in some of the earlier episodes when many of the scenes are just too dark.  There isn’t even the excuse of it being made for the big screen.  It’s just wrong.  Also some of the CGI, particularly in wide shots of amphibious landings for instance, doesn’t work.  It’s not as convincing as the more primitive, model based effects in “Band Of Brothers”

There is one part of “The Pacific” that deserves the very highest praise.  The titles are quite simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on television or at the cinema.  They consist of extreme close ups of an artist drawing battle scenes with charcoal.  As the charcoal disintegrates into dust and splinters on the page it mixes through to become the detritus of battle, the dirt, dust and shrapnel of combat.  The backgrounds merge with finely textured, laid paper, with live action, graphics and animation.  It really is quite breathtakingly, achingly beautiful.  All the more so so because its subject is precisely the opposite.  The wonderful, haunting theme music is the same as “Band Of Brothers”.  At least that’s the way I hear it.  If it isn’t then it’s been composed to be so similar that they might as well have stuck with the original.

All in all, I did, eventually, greatly enjoy “The Pacific”.  Most of all though it shows just how bloody marvellous  “Band Of Brothers” is.

Man’s Best Friend

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Dogs have lived alongside man for tens of thousands of years.  Even before our species could be so defined our predecessors made a pact with each other.  Mutual advantage was the bargain and so it has been ever since.  The relationship is in our DNA.  There is a primeval bond between us.

Capone & Carla

Dogs can be dangerous.  Mostly this is a function of how they are treated but there is the wild card.  I would never, ever leave any breed of dog alone with a child.   Thankfully, considering how many badly treated dogs and irresponsible owners there are, tragedies are few and far between.  Nothing can extinguish the agony of what happened in Liverpool yesterday but there is a solution.

Bring back the dog licence.  Make it cost £100 per year.  Give pensioners a rebate of £90.  Every dog must be microchipped to correspond with its licence.  Enforce it.  Guaranteed, problem solved.

Instead we have idiotic politicians who play about with incompetent, ridiculous and irrelevant legislation like the Dangerous Dogs Act – while children are mauled to death in their own homes.