Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movies for Reactionaries, Part I

I find that as a reactionary, I have a hard time finding movies, music, or books that don't make my propaganda-dar ring loudly in my mind's ear. This isn't because everyone is out to smother the reactionary perspective, of course; it's because the reactionary perspective is so far from the norm that few artists will harbor perspectives compatible with that worldview. Thus, it is a rare treat when I stumble onto a work that does not break my suspension of disbelief through wildly impractical social, governmental, or even metaphysical mechanics.

I find that the 1970 film Cromwell is not only well acted, directed, and produced, but that it also only minimally set off my bullshit meter. This is not to say that it furthers a reactionary worldview; far from it. Our old adversary Lord Protector Cromwell is the protagonist of this fine film, which makes it decidedly not reactionary in nature.

However, Alec Guinness does such a sterling and identifiable job as King Charles I that he can't possibly be called a villain. Charles certainly provides the opposition to the film's protagonist, but he does so in a way that's readily identifiable, and free from any caricature. It's hard to overstate Guinness's portrayal of Charles; he makes Richard Harris's portrayal of Oliver Cromwell look like dogshit, and Harris is no poor actor indeed.

Finally, this film provides a stark, and meaningful rallying call to all reactionaries: Towards the end of the film, as Charles has been sentenced to death for treason, we have our antagonist's* Braveheart moment, except that it is best described as an anti-Braveheart moment, because while Wallace in the Gibson film expends his last tortured breath to bid the audience to defiance, Charles calmly, and without regret, declares his life to have been only in service to peace. William Wallace bids you violence. Charles Stuart bids you peace.

*The character of Charles I provides the viewer with a stark example that an antagonist is not the same as a villain.


  1. Have you seen The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, and if so what do you think of it?

    It's not reactionary from a monarchist point of view, but it certainly defends the old aristocracy. It's also an immensely pleasurable movie (happy pleasure being something of a reactionary view itself, these days). The biggest propaganda-dar warning for me in that movie is that it pretends that the Allies would have fought according to the old, noble rules of war if only the Central Powers had not forced them to fight dirty in WWI, and then by extension the Axis had forced the Allies to fight dirty in WWII. But this is a minor side-point, indulged in for a British-American audience. If one takes the Germany-England dichotomy out of if and just looks at the nobility of the two main (German and English) protagonist/antagonists, one sees a general condemnation of modernity and praise of aristocracy and nobility. Plus some great acting, comedy, and a very pretty lady!

  2. I actually have not, but thanks for the suggestion! It shall go on my to-watch list.