Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Paul Greengrass is undoubtedly a very skilful director - The Bourne Ultimatum is a masterclass of a mainstream action movie: full of imaginative flourishes, a tight script, excellent acting - and refreshingly, best of all, a recasting of a government organisation as the baddies - and there lies something I've yet been unable to reconcile.

The US administration has a lot of previous for mythologising real life events, of which Private Jessica Lynch's 'escape' story would arguably be the apotheosis, and you may recall Greengrass's penultimate work Flight 93, a film which lovingly retells this 'Let's Roll!' American hero narrative just as the discredited 9/11 Commission would wish for.

After all, let's be honest, film has formed the modern basis of our understanding of historical events - from 300 to Jesus Of Nazareth to Braveheart to Pearl Harbour and so on - that's what's memorable in people's minds, and that's what becomes the effective reality. Ever since the movie industry began, it has been used as a potent propaganda tool by governments of all flavours.

So, how is it that the same director can make two consecutive movies with such contrasting agendas? All I can think is that, as brilliant a filmmaker as Greengrass patently is, he simply does what he's told by his producers, and that's that. I mean, it's 2007, so what price integrity?


David Cotner said...

Believe it or not, film starts with a writer, not a director. Hence the disparity.

William Bennett said...

that's true - and directors, particularly distinguished ones, have the luxury of carefully selecting the material they work with, which leaves the incongruence in this choice, or its implicit intent, still very much open to question

Sarah Trotsky said...

money seems to be the key here.

or bi-polar tendencies.

both work just fine as anwsers,
I think,

Richo said...

Surely, there are so many strings attached to the entire industry these days that even those few directors who attempt to retain their integrity are up against a lot? And I'm with Sarah's first point, mostly. Money yammers. Possibly more than ever.