“The symptoms were not the same as in the East, where a gush of blood from the nose was the plain sign of inevitable death; but it began both in men and women with certain swellings in the groin or under the armpit. They grew to the size of a small apple or an egg, more or less, and were vulgarly called tumours. In a short space of time these tumours spread from the two parts named all over the body. Soon after this the symptoms changed and black or purple spots appeared on the arms or thighs or any other part of the body, sometimes a few large ones, sometimes many little ones. These spots were a certain sign of death, just as the original tumour had been and still remained. ADVERTISMENT No doctor’s advice, no medicine could overcome or alleviate this disease, An enormous number of ignorant men and women set up as doctors in addition to those who were trained. Either the disease was such that no treatment was possible or the doctors were so ignorant that they did not know what caused it, and consequently could not administer the proper remedy. In any case very few recovered; most people died within about three days of the appearance of the tumours described above, most of them without any fever or other symptoms. The violence of this disease was such that the sick communicated it to the healthy who came near them, just as a fire catches anything dry or oily near it. And it even went further. To speak to or go near the sick brought infection and a common death to the living; and moreover, to touch the clothes or anything else the sick had touched or worn gave the disease to the person touching.”—The Black Death, 1348
After I got bored, I started thinking about the plot (probably too much), which turned boredom and dislike of the film into a visceral annoyance. The movie had this undercurrent of jingoism that was odd. On top of that, taking the penultimate source of American exceptionalism and then revising it to make America’s role even more exceptional, in the context of our current political and historical frame struck me as absurd and, quite frankly, wrong.
Nazis are the universal example for “evil” enemies. We take it for granted as a nation that our involvement in WWII was a glorious and obviously noble and necessary undertaking. As a result, that noble role can get used to justify things beyond the lessons of history. So, Americans working outside the law, doing whatever it took to get the evildoers, justifying torture, killing prisoners, doing anything because the bad guys are evil doesn’t sit well with me in a world filled with Sarah Palins and Dick Cheneys, especially when there’s no basis in history for this. When they finished by getting Hitler, it felt like a “If only we would use such force now, take the gloves off, we’d get those terrorists” statement.
Other historical details were less annoying but still bugged me. For example, we didn’t really do much to help Jews as a nation (e.g. immigration laws, the S.S. St. Louis, etc.) until after the war. So, the over-the-top violent end to Hitler just felt phony, hollow, and, ultimately, absurd. It didn’t work for me and just soured me further on the film. It’s also the reason why one suggestion, that this is a revenge fantasy film for Jews, doesn’t really work for me.
“You could argue that by offloading data onto silicon, we free our own gray matter for more germanely “human” tasks like brainstorming and daydreaming. What’s more, the perfect recall of silicon memory can be an enormous boon to thinking.”—via Clive Thompson, Your Outboard Brain Knows All