Re: Objectivist theme movies (was Re: Brazil)

From: David Hayes
Newsgroups: humanities.philosophy.objectivism
Date: Sunday, April 05, 1998 7:37 PM

XNFP wrote in message <1998040600094900.UAA07239@ladder03.news.aol.com>…
>Hi David :)
> I haven't seen "Flight of the Phoenix," but it sure sounds like an
>interesting film.
> From what you're describing, it sounds as if the characters in the film
>weren't dependent, they were *inter*dependent. That is, each man did what he
>could on his own, but turned to another man for help when he reached an
>impasse.
> I find it somewhat frustrating that (as I read your description) everybody
>had the *same* flaw: not being able to be rational during a particular moment
>where it was EXTREMELY important that he be so. However, I don't think needing
>to work as a team rather than alone is, in and of itself, so bad. That is,
>assuming each man was trying at 100% rather than trying to force another man to
>take over his share of the work.

I wish it were so, but it's not. If the characters are working at 100%, it's only because they allowed their minds to atrophy through improper thinking methods. Anyway, these are not the characters of a cliffhanger serial, where there might be a team working with a division of cognitive labor, and of each member respecting the contributions of his colleagues. Nor are the characters of "The Flight of the Phoenix" of the stature of Eddie Willers, who did defer when he knew enough to know that he didn't know what he needed for survival. The irrationality in "The Flight of the Phoenix" entails what's more like willful stupidity.

> From what you're describing, it sounds as if the characters in the film
>…turned to another man for help when he reached an
>impasse.

Read again the portion of my earlier post (reproduced below) concerning the military leader who ignores information given him about the uselessness of compasses in a magnetic-field-rich desert and who then proceeds with his futile plan to march his soldiers.

>However, I don't think needing
>to work as a team rather than alone is, in and of itself,

Again, that's not what the film dramatizes. Rather, consider what I wrote: "One man acting alone could not bring to the task every required attribute of temperament, mental discipline, and knowledge--says the film." Knowledge is not the whole story--it would be appropriate for men to pool their knowledge; rather, it's the holes in the character's personalities (the "temperament" and "mental discipline" that I wrote of) that render each one flawed and unadmirable.

There are films where teams of thinkers work together successfully to solve a life-and-death crisis. Why celebrate this film that presents no better person than a collection of neuroses and defense mechanisms?

--
David Hayes

If responding by email, excise "excise" from address.

>From: "David Hayes" <davidp_excisehayes@earthlink.net>
>>"Flight of the Phoenix" has an unsavory manner of making every character
>>look bad at least once. The seemingly-level-headed pilot portrayed by Jimmy
>>Stewart loses his reason in an extended moment of accusations and
>>castigation. The model-plane designer played by Hardy Kruger has the
>>ingenuity to determine how a flight-worthy aircraft can be built from the
>>parts left from the crash that has left all the characters stranded on the
>>Sahara, and Kruger rationally defends the theoretical knowledge he possesses
>>as being equal to that used in passenger-sized airplanes, yet the film
>>depicts him coldly, icily when unemotionally dismisses any objection over
>>his design being unsuitable for the two injured passengers because the
>>doctor among the survivors has assured him that those two untransportable
>>passengers will be dead before the proposed craft can be amalgamated from
>>the available parts.
>>
>>Likewise, the military characters, who choose to march from the crash site
>>to civilization, are shown to ignore well-reasoned advise against their plan
>>owing to the magnetic fields that will invalidate their compass. (It would
>>be one thing were the soldiers to march away with their compass knowing
>>neither whether it should or shouldn't work, and for them to learn later
>>that an unconsidered factor has led them to go astray. Instead, the film
>>has the soldiers receiving facts from a man who knows about compasses and
>>the terrain--the pilot encounters this information as part of his
>>profession--yet rationality is side-stepped.)
>>
>>The message of the movie seems to be that these characters all needed each
>>other in order to survive. One man acting alone could not bring to the task
>>every required attribute of temperament, mental discipline, and
>>knowledge--says the film.
>>
>>--
>>David Hayes

 

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