Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hearts and minds

I am in line at the movie theater box office behind a man who is asking for a refund. He seems quite unhappy, explaining that his card was charged for four tickets instead of two. The usher caught the mistake and told him to come back to the box office to fix the problem. It takes sometimes to arrange and the man, calmer now that his problem is being taken care of, keeps apologizing for the delay to the line behind him (we are now several people to wait). No problem. He gets his money back and leaves complaining that he is now late for the movie.

I ask for a ticket for what turned out to be an incredibly well done documentary called "Hearts and minds". A magnificent propaganda tool, perfectly set up and edited for maximum effect.
Sometimes too much: Two old Vietnamese women who have lost their sister to a bomb. One is crying and the other one avoids to stare at the camera. Her face is absolutely immobile for the longest time and the camera is still rolling. Her eyes are gazing somewhere on her left, she does not blink. She is a statue, trying to forget that a camera is fixing her, pitiless, while her sister is crying behind her. Her resolve is clear but ultimately futile. After an agonizing long time, she wipes her hand across her face and acknowledges her pain. The shot finishes: the camera won.
In the dark, during the projection the face of general Westmoreland is greeted by a loud "Asshole!" from the person seated right in front of me. I hear the couple to my right talking about the current situation and drawing comparisons. "It's a perfect time to see such a movie" says one. The woman nods in approval. We can always use more propaganda.


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