I initially thought that this was a naive film. It shows the devil enticing statesmen with armaments. The statesmen are pictured as elegant simpletons, hardly a rung up from children on the playground shooting marbles. They're doing alright at starting trouble on their own, but the devil points out to them all sorts of nicer and bigger toys they could be playing with. And I blinked a bit when I realised the film was released in 1936, because it was 100% aware of what the Nazis were about to do from 1939 onwards.
It's very easy to think that the film is naive, but in reality, if you look at expenditure breakdowns, many of our prominent nations do spend much more on armaments than on healthcare, on education, on feeding the hungry. In the country where this film was made (UK) we have spent more money than an individual is capable of understanding on maintaining a fleet of submarines that swim around the deep armed to the gills with Holocaust.
And yet I still thought, no, this film must be naive. But the next day after watching it I turned on the news and watched a variety of politicians from East and West bickering about the Crimea, and troops are mobilising. The standard of debate was lower than one could find at a chimpanzee's tea party, and I suspect my little niece, not yet out of primary school would have known that. Yet so much of it was carried out with this unflappable assuredness. They were the elegant simpletons of Hell Unlimited.
I suddenly felt that it was a very good idea to get your children to learn foreign languages and go on foreign exchanges, and just encourage people to understand one another.
There were some very blunt messages in the movie about how these people cannot set nations against one another if we all strike when they spend too much money on weaponry, and if we refuse to fight. I'm worried that the cat is out of the bag now, they don't need huge land-based armies carrying rifles any more.
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