Tuesday, March 1, 2022
By MICHAEL WALSH
Are we really doing this? It’s possible to argue, of course, that we’re actually overdue for a Third World War. In what has become an historic tradition, Europe’s empires have fought something like a world war at the beginning of every century since the 1600s.
Check it out. In 1618, 12 protestant states joined with the Ottoman Empire to take on the Holy Roman Empire in what became the Thirty Years War.
In 1700, the Great Northern War pitted Russia and a number of its neighbours against the Ottoman Empire. A year later – 1701 — the shooting started in the War of the Spanish Succession in which the Holy Roman Empire took on a Franco-Spanish alliance. For the next 20 years, almost all of Europe was having at it.
The Napoleonic Wars, begun in 1803, are celebrated in story and song to this day. (Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture remains No. 1 on martial music’s greatest hits list.)
The 1914-1918 War-to-End-All-Wars proved so popular that it spawned a sequel in 1939. And now we’re into the 21st century.
George W. “I’m a war president” Bush tried to get things off with a bang with his 2003 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite some serious bloodshed, neither rose to the multi-national insanity required of an actual “world war.” Perhaps the otherwise uninspiring Joe Biden has what it takes to call forth true catastrophe, though.
Yes, I know it was Russia’s Vladimir Putin who ordered the invasion of Ukraine. But, as those who have been paying attention know, that is not the whole story. The complexities of this moment are enough to make our heads explode, so let’s reduce this down to a simple conspiracy theory.
It’s all about climate change.
As there is no solution to the ongoing global warming that wouldn’t cost society’s One-Percenters their claim to, well, everything, they’ve decided to blow it all up. Their solution to rising temperatures is a nuclear winter. It actually makes more sense than anything QAnon is selling.
Rather than Satan, the One Percent worship Mars, the god of war. Mutual assured destruction has been part of the plan all along, and the billionaires have spent the last 30 years building a network of luxury bunkers to house themselves and their chosen minions during the immediate post-Apocalypse years. As for the rest of us, COVID-19 variants will cease to be a concern.
I could be wrong, of course. While we’re waiting to see what happens next, I’ll just keep working on cheerful new Reeling Back postings. Since mid-February there have been seven additions to the archive, including:
TO BE OR NOT TO BE — An homage to the classic Ernst Lubitsch comedy from 1942, this was director Alan Johnson’s 1983 directorial debut. It offered its star, Mel Brooks — famous for 1967’s The Producers — another opportunity to heckle Hitler. (February 27)
DER GRAL (OUR HITLER) — Not so much a documentary as an audio-visual essay, director Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s 1977 film is a contemplation of myth, media and Germany’s fascination with fascism. (February 27)
THE DAMNED — Set on the evening of 1933’s Reichstag fire, director Luchino Visconti’s 1969 drama is the story of the von Essenbecks, a family of German arms manufacturers whose fate is tied to the Nazi power grab. (February 27)
HIGH-BALLIN’ — Director Peter Carter’s 1970 action comedy was Canada’s contribution to the era’s interest in truck drivers. Peter Fonda and Jerry Reed travelled to Toronto to take the starring roles. (February 23)
MAGICIANS OF THE SILVER SCREEN — The birth of Czechoslovakian cinema is celebrated in this 1978 historical comedy from writer-director Jiří Menzel. (February 23)
MY SWEET LITTLE VILLAGE — The second of Jiří Menzel’s features nominated for a foreign-language film Academy Award, this 1985 comedy is an affectionate look at the complexities of daily life in rural Czechoslovakia. (February 23)
LOVE IN THREE DIMENSIONS — The combination of softcore sex with stereoscopic photography made German director Walter Boos’s 1973 comedy an international success. (February 18)