Two movies with a political aim
By DOUGAL MACDONALD*
HOLLYWOOD’s movie-making industry often jumps to the defence of the U.S. imperialists’ criminal activities at home and all over the world. Many examples can be given of such imperialist propaganda churned out over the years: The Red Menace (1949), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), the Rambo series (1982-), Black Hawk Down (2001) and so on. Two recent examples from 2011 are Stephen Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, and Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey.
“The Adventures of Tintin”
The book “Tintin My Friend” by the Belgian Nazi Léon Degrelle, a colleague of Georges Remi at Le XXe Siècle and for whom Remi worked as an illustrator. In the book Degrelle claimed to be the inspiration for the character Tintin.
Georges Remi, who authored the Tintin series of books under the pen name Hergé, worked as an illustrator at Le XXe Siècle (The 20th Century), a right-wing Catholic Belgian newspaper in Brussels.
In 1940, the Nazis closed the paper and Hergé began working for Le Soir, a pro-Nazi newspaper that insisted on its front page: “National Socialism can bring us closer to God.” Leon Degrelle, founder of the Belgian Fascist party and the leader of its SS division, declared “Tintin, c’est moi.”
Hergé was accused of being a Nazi collaborator and was imprisoned and interrogated after the war. He admitted: “I recognize that I myself believed that the future of the West could depend on the New Order. For many, democracy had proved a disappointment, and the New Order brought new hope. In light of everything which has happened, it is of course a huge error to have believed for an instant in the New Order.”
Hergé began the Tintin series in 1929 with Tintin in the Land of the Soviet, a direct attack against the Soviet Union. The book is an endless stream of anti-Soviet disinformation: Tintin’s train is blown up by the secret police, he is held prisoner several times, he finds that Soviet factories are not even operational, Moscow is a “stinking slum” where only children who are Marxists get fed, all Soviet grain is exported abroad for propaganda purposes, and a Soviet agent intends to blow up all European capitals with dynamite. One typical anti-communist quote from the dialogue is, “You’re in the hideout where Lenin … and Stalin have collected together wealth stolen from the people!”
Tintin in the Congo, Hergé’s second book released a year later, is openly racist and colonialist, portraying the Congolese as infantile and stupid and needing guidance from their white Belgian masters. In the scene where Tintin teaches Congolese school children about geography, he states: “My dear friends, today I’m going to talk to you about your country: Belgium!” The book has been the subject of many human rights complaints and English publishers refused to publish it until 1991. In 2004, when Congolese Information Minister Henri Mova Sakanyi described remarks by the Belgian foreign minister as “racism and nostalgia for colonialism,” he commented that it was like “Tintin in the Congo all over again.”
Twenty-one more Tintin books appeared before Hergé’s death in 1983. During the Nazi Occupation of Belgium, while he worked at Le Soir, Hergé decided it was safer to write about “non-political” subjects. In fact, under the Nazi regime he abandoned his story Land of Black Gold because it depicted political conflicts in the British Mandate of Palestine. The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943) and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944) are three of the books Hergé wrote at this time. The first is about drug smuggling and the other two focus on a treasure hunt. Certainly, none of the three is anti-Nazi, anti-fascist or even remotely progressive. For example, the villain in The Crab with the Golden Claws is an Arab named Omar Ben Salaad, several of whose minions are black Africans.
Spielberg’s movie Tintin is based on these three books, with the plot focusing on the treasure hunt. Spielberg alters and integrates the original stories to suit his purposes. One major change is that he turns the harmless Russian ship collector from the two later books, Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, into his film’s diabolical villain. (Ivan Ivanovitch is the name used in fiction for the “typical” Russian.) Spielberg’s resurrection of Tintin and its anti-Soviet origins follows his 2008 movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where the Russians are also the main enemy in keeping with the outlook of U.S. imperialism. Even with the Cold War supposedly over, the U.S. imperialists still see Russia as their main rival and are seeking every opportunity to discredit her, encircle her and foment internal disruptions.
“In the Land of Blood and Honey”
U.S. celebrity actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie, promoted her new film and directorial debut about the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, In the Land of Blood and Honey, in a February 18 interview with Al Jazeera’s Balkans’ branch.
Set in Sarajevo, Jolie graphically and falsely portrays the Serbs as unrepentant murderers and mass rapists while whitewashing all other participants. Jolie’s pro-imperialist propaganda film aims to justify the U.S.-NATO intervention in Bosnia in the early 1990s and, overall, promotes the U.S.-NATO’s genocidal ‘humanitarian intervention’ war doctrine. Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen praised the movie, seeing it as an endorsement of American-led foreign interventionism such as the invasion of Libya.
There is no doubt Jolie’s movie has a political aim. While writing the screenplay, she consulted CIA agent Richard Holbrooke, who died in December 2010. Holbrooke was a ruthless cold warrior who spent his entire 48-year political career implementing and backing U.S. interventions – covert and overt – in Vietnam, East Timor, the Balkans, the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (see TML Daily, December 17, 2010 – No. 217). Jolie also consulted with U.S. General Wesley Clark, who was director for strategic plans and policy of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war against Bosnia. Her reliance on such criminal elements really exposes the fraud of her so-called humanitarianism.
Since 2007, Jolie has been a member of the 90-year-old U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the main breeding ground for U.S. imperialist foreign policy. CFR members have included major monopoly capitalists such as David Rockefeller, senior serving politicians, over a dozen U.S. Secretaries of State, bankers, former CIA agents and senior monopoly media figures. A most notorious member is former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the main instigator behind the 1995 U.S.-NATO bombings of the Serbs. Like Jolie today, in the 1990s Clinton talked about the “moral imperative” of the United States to prevent gross human rights abuses, even though at the time Colombia, the leading recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America, was murdering thousands of peasants, unionists, politicians, and human rights activists, without a word of opposition from the U.S.
During her notorious visit to Libya in October 2011, Jolie exposed her political aims by praising the U.S.-NATO supported rebels to the skies for their commitment to “human rights.” Her propaganda visit was widely showcased by the international monopoly media. Not surprisingly, during her February 18 Al Jazeera interview, Jolie specifically advocated for imperialist intervention in Syria, shedding crocodile tears for the Syrian people: “I think Syria has gotten to a point, sadly, where some form of intervention is absolutely necessary… at this time we just must stop the civilians being slaughtered.” Jolie, of course, did not say one word about the ongoing U.S.-supported genocide against the Palestinian people.
In her February 18 interview, Jolie attacked Russia and China for using their United Nations veto powers to block foreign intervention against Syria, which she said was against the will of the “international community”, i.e., all those who support U.S. imperialism: “There are these countries that are choosing not to intervene and I feel very strongly that the use of a veto when you have financial interests in a country should be questioned, and the use of a veto against a humanitarian intervention should be questioned.” Jolie neglected to mention how for decades the U.S. imperialists have cast vetoes in support of their financial interests and criminal interventions all over the world. This began in 1970 when UN Ambassador Charles Yost cast the first U.S. veto, rejecting an African-Asian demand for the complete isolation of Ian Smith’s racist Rhodesian regime.
* TML Weekly Information Project, March 10, 2012 – No. 10