Blesok no. 29, November-December, 2002
The “Bolsheviks and Mensheviks” – Of The Future
On the film Minority Report; directed by: Steven Spielberg; cast: Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sidow
The successful realization of the revolutionary-militant takeover of the government power in Imperial Russia in 1917, with the attack on the Winter Castle in Sanct Petersburg, brought a many-century-lasting dilemma for the democracy in whole. Namely, since then, the term “bolshevism” stands as a synonym of the non-democratic and autocratic rule, regardless the fact that, at the beginning it stood as a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, and then as a “Stalinism” etc. Within the division of the (revolutionary) “orthodox-bolsheviks” and the “losers-mensheviks, as much the ideological view of the history can be seen, that much the facts can be observed, also – regardless how much one would like to see: the “Bolshevism” in the Russian terminology means majority; and, the “Menshevism” means minority. According to any democratic political “mathematics”, that was the victory of the majority over the minority, in – more or less – democratic way. But, what can one do: the democracy is a collision of many different groups of interests…
This introduction, especially for the younger film and reader audience, most probably is highly vague, and at the edge of wastefulness. Therefore, not to widen the story further, we can “cut it short” in many ways: like in the spirit of the oral wisdom – like: it’s not gold everything that shines – etc. But, in this review of the newest Steven Spielberg film Minority Report, that political sub-text pictures a whole “ideology” within the American Cinema, based on the principle of the individual’s fight against the system, today popularly put into the maxim “alone-against-the-television” as a verbal joke for any utopia endeavor in the society.
So, this introduction isn’t just one of the numerous “philosophical” or “getting-wise” tricks of the film critics: it’s inspired by the essential “political” background of this film’s title. The Minority Report, and not only from the perspective of the average Balkan political view, at first associates on some classical political story. Then, with the exposition of the well-known SF-discourse, based upon the works of Philip K. Dick, and in spite of the glomming of the initial intention, the critic (most probably) would be right to proclaim Spielberg’s Minority Report as a political film – par exellance. That’s nothing new: once you “scratch off” the entire computer animation in – for instance – the Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones, by George Lukas’, who together with Spielberg make the Hollywood’s “yin-yang” – in programmable, esthetic, production and ideological sense, only one – although quite anemic – political thriller can be seen! And nothing more.
But as we said, not less of a political story in classical sense. Although Spielberg, until now – at least once – did deal with the political genre – his Color Purple, for instance – the new page in the comprehending of the modern ideologies of the 21st Century, the page that in the most impressive way was opened by the brothers Watchowsky with Matrix, probably drew the most successful eclectic in the Hollywood’s 20th Century (I mean Spielberg, of course) in this adventure. Here, dealing with Tom Cruise and the similar aspects can, quite freely, to be put under the “collateral” activities: not by chance, few lines above we didn’t miss the production aspect of the Spielberg’s film opus, which, regardless of the fact whether you like it or not, must bring the money back from the box offices… And some another digression: seems that exactly Hollywood is “the core” of the western interpretation of the classical Marxism, which lapidary defines the world development by the formula: the economy base, and even then – the social, spiritual or any other human value grading-up… But then again, it’s the quite different story for the commercial and the authorial/art cinema).
In Minority Report, if we exclude – more or less – successful production endeavors, we can focus onto, at least, two themes: the esthetic eclecticism and the narrative structure. At the first level, the “game-playing” with the mentioned new trends is obvious: although with the quite reduced use of the fight choreography, which was translated/projected from the Hong-Kong Oscar-winning Ang Lee’s school in Matrix, at Spielberg still dominates the standard Star Wars visualization – as the cliché which, with small changes, endures almost three decades. Further, Spielberg since 2002, in a way, “updates” the interest of his generation from his beginnings in the film: that interest of the 60’s at the André Basin’s followers formulated the European new wave on the foundations of the genre-sided Hollywood (the Maltese Falcon of the hard-boiled Richard Chandler school, directed by John Houston, etc.) in new film-noir variant. More further, in the 70’s, “The New Hollywood”, again “chewed-over” the French new wave in the apotheosis of the genre… So, Spielberg here “plays a little”, “updates a little”, “pays a little respect” to those “new” classics, and then walks the thin line by which even D-r Frankenstein, while he could, walked and held the strings with his life-implanting experiment. In other words, he actually went with the assumption that someone would like Chandler in the processed adaptation by Philip K. Dick!?
The second level can be analyzed even literally. Almost at the ideal half-time of the film’s duration, we note the scene where, in the spirit of the Spielberg’s eclecticism, Philip K. Dick becomes Chandler: with the re-implantation of the main character’s eyes, The policemen John Anderton, The-Minority-Report-Fellow, somehow, from the super-future in which the crimes can be predicted by the modern pre-cogs (precognitive persons), enters his past (the real present time) and the “common” detective structure narration. Therefore, this review in its first half doesn’t mention characters and types, because above-mentioned Star Wars visualization of the spectacle doesn’t have any real need for such thing (?!?). But, with the “chandlerisation” of the Phillip K. Dick’s story – literally and similar as with the Anderton’s eyes re-implantation, alias Cruise – the virtual characters, instead the micro-chips, gain flesh and blood. That’s why from the Spielberg’s variant of the Huxley’s Brave New World – here we have another dedication note: Cruise, as a desperate man who lost his son, isn’t immune to the forbidden drugs doping, which is the formal prove and inner-reason for the imposed chase on him – we enter the film noir, or the classical detective conclusion. Of course, how Max Von Sidow gets more in his appearance duration (his appearance by itself is an act of – omagé), as much the Cruise’s characters gain on its characterization. Almost precisely as at the pharmacy-laboratory, during drug’s dosage preparation.
But, all that is just a mastery of story narration about how some “Bolshevik” becomes a “Menshevik”. How tensed and forced this comparison looks like, somehow, everything comes up that way: at the beginning we have Cruise as a leader of the “Felix Dyerzhinski leather-coats of the future” (Anderton also – as his basic wardrobe – has his black leather jacket), which with modern instruments and utensils predict the crimes. However, as Stalin manipulated in USSR with the security matters, the same is happening in USA in two-thousand-forty-and-some year. There were “frame-ups” 70 years ago – numerous “arranged” court-processes of eligible crimes, but even after 50 years – there are still such kind of “framed-up” cases happening… All until the Appearance of the Man, nevertheless how much staled that sounds.
Therefore, if we started with the Bolshevism-Menshevism explication, then we can end in the same style. Or, even more accurate, in the Maxim Gorki’s style: “The Man, how proud it sounds”!
The pathetical layer, of course, is included within the production calculations…
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski