THE LEGEND OF TARZAN IS A KID’S MOVIE FOR ADULTS
Director David Yates tries to blend the story about the origins of Tarzan, reared by apes, with the rape of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium. Titles at the beginning inform that the international conference in Berlin during 1884/85, when the African continent was divided into areas to be controlled by European powers (but does not mention that the slave trade was also to be banned in the colonization). As a result of the conference, Belgium’s King Leopold II obtained personal control over the Congo. But Leopold ran up a debt while building a railroad into the interior. He planned to pay off the debt by sending a team to the Congo headed by Henry Stanley to develop the resources. Meanwhile, George Washington Williams (played in the film by Samuel L. Jackson), a former Civil War hero who wrote an important book about the role of Blacks in that war, was appointed an ambassador to Haiti by President Chester Alan Arthur. In 1889, he obtained an informal audience with Leopold, having heard rumors about slavery in the Congo. Contrary to the king’s wishes, he then went to the Congo to investigate. Afterward, Williams wrote to Leopold that slavery in the Congo made the king culpable and called for an international commission to document the infractions. In 1890, an international conference in Brussels indeed made slavery an international crime. Williams then returned to England and died there in 1891.
Within that context, jumbling history for the purposes of entertainment, The Legend of Tarzan tries to graft a story involving Tarzan as a baby, his childhood (Christian Stevens at age 5 and Rory Seper at age 18), and his wife Jane (Margot Robbie) later in life in England. The audience in 1889 is instead with members of the Cabinet, who urge a reluctant Tarzan to investigate rumors about what is happening in the Congo. Williams urges Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgärd) to accept the assignment so that he can go along. Ultimately, Tarzan defeats District Commissioner Leon Rom (Christopher Waltz) as well as African slave traders, with many flashbacks and martial arts displays. Filming is in Gabon, not the Congo. MH
JASON BOURNE SHOWS HOLLYWOOD’S NAÏVE SUPPORT FOR DONALD TRUMP
For years, Hollywood blockbusters have been transmitting a common theme—a crisis exists (sometimes because of government meddling), and the crisis cannot be solved by bureaucratic Washington; ergo, a hero outside government emerges to solve the problem for the people. Hunger Games, Jason Bourne films, etc. The message is identical with that of the Tea Party—that government is incompetent or the problem, and only a hero outside the establishment can solve the problem. Hitherto the hero was someone mythical, but now we know that all those blockbusters were paving the way for the appearance of an actual person—Donald Trump, who states the subliminal thesis of all the crisis/hero films: “Only I can solve the problems.” In Jason Bourne, directed by Paul Greengrass, the enemy is again the CIA. Bourne (Matt Damon) is prepared to whistleblow about CIA black ops, one of which killed his father. CIA Director Robert Dewey (played by Tommy Lee Jones) wants to kill Bourne before he can do more damage than Snowden. So now Matt Damon, who says that he will only star in films that feature political exposés, personifies Donald Trump, the hero who exposes the crooked political establishment as the embodiment of Satan. MH