With a busy autumn season ahead, Kenny Mathieson takes stock at the St Sebastian Film Festival (overleaf),
while Trevor Johnston finds out what makes Wired tick and unveils the latest offerings . Watch out for next issue’s bumper film section with all the news on the blockbusters ahead.
INDEX21 lISTINGS: WEEK 0NE27 WEEKTW028
Presumed killed in one ofthe very last battles ofthe Falklands War, Private Kevin Deakin comes ‘back from the dead’ after over seven weeks of Robinson Crusoe-like isolation. His miraculous reappearance provokes first rejoicing, then suspicion and finally bullying contempt. Directed by Paul Greengrass, who helped cover the South l Atlantic conflict for ‘World In Action’ and later went on to ghost write ‘Spycatcher’, I ‘Resurrected’ is loosely based on the ; experiences of Guardsman Philip Williams. An impressive study ofthe relationship between a very vulnerable self and an invulnerable, victory-led patriotic fantasy, the brief battle scenes and military milieu tell us that it’s a war movie, but l Greengrass’s principal concern seems to be with laying bare the mechanisms by which the war was transformed, in his words, into a ‘kind of glorified world cup game.’
With David Thewles exuding a l cipher-like passivity in the central role, the film is much more downbeat than ‘Tumbledown’ but it also provides a wider and more sophisticatedly ironic range of references and comparisons. WWII newsreel voice Bob Danvers Walker narrates the film’s many TV screen military celebrations and there’s a particularly telling scene involving the contrast between a physically shattered Deakin and that quintessential Fifties’ war movie ‘Reach for the Sky’. Most of all though, with Deakin crucified by newspaper coverage of his return, it’s the role ofthe tabloid press in interpreting and promoting the war which comes in for acute criticism. Says Greengrass: ‘The popular press during the Falklands War articulated a lot of the inchoate emotions that were around at the time, particularly this obsessive desire to create heroes. It was almost as if part ofthe purpose of the war beyond its military purpose was as a kind of exercise in national regeneration and the way that would be done would be to create a new generation of heroes, fit to stand alongside those of former times. It’s Kevin Deakin’s unfortunate luck to be subjected to the same treatment but not to be able to live up to it. And of course it’s not just from the
¥s\ 5 ‘t ‘i the prison service. They all suffer from scapegoating, endemic bullying, physical brutality. That’s not what’s relevant here. What’s relevant is the shape ofthis popular press, it’s quite clearly there in the village and in the barracks, the same desire to have and receive a hero and when he cannot live up to these expectations, they promptly try to pin another mask on him, the mask of the deserter.
This one individual acts as a kind of lightning rod for all the enhanced and manufactured emotions that were around during that period and that’s the interest of the story, that’s why I made the film, because it has that wonderful mythical shape: the stranger who returns and by his return exposes all kinds of hidden conflicts and doubts. It’s not a question of some political statement or attitude taken towards the army. The army, ultimately, is no different from very many other closed societies, from public schools through to particular individual’s story and what it enables you to say about the Falklands War, about myths, about regenerated nationalism and jingoism.
The key issue about the War was not the cause, though there clearly was one, the
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territory was invaded. Equally well there was no strategic interest at stake. Historically Britain has always fought shy of fighting for principals — why do you fight for a principal in the Falklands, but not for Hong Kong? That’s not to deny that the principal was there, but the key question for me is why did Britain in the Eighties feel it necessary to embark on this small but bloody conﬂict as a way of regenerating ourselves, of being able to say in public we’ve put the ‘Great’ back in Britain, of concocting all of those myths which really before the Falklands War were terribly anachronistic. That was the point ofputting ‘Reach for the Sky’ at the end. Ifwe had watched ‘Reach for the Sky’ three months before the Falklands War we would all have had a warm chuckle about how outdated it all was and about how terribly anachronistic all the sentiments were and yet within six months those kind of sentiments were suddenly being openly spoken. That seems to me to be the key issue at the root of it and what will trouble people about the Falklands War. That’s what creates the undercurrent ofconfusion where there’s clarity on the actual military mission.’ (Tom Tunney)
The List 29 September — 12 October 198915