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Julia Anne Severance
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William H. Macy,
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William H. Macy,
In the waning months of World War II, a man and his wife are mistakenly identified as Jews by their anti-Semitic Brooklyn neighbors. Suddenly the victims of religious and racial persecution, they find themselves aligned with a local Jewish immigrant in a struggle for dignity and survival. Written by
About halfway through the movie, Larry and Gert are in an automobile. There is a vinyl "Sport Grip Steering Wheel Cover" laced around the steering wheel of the car. It is noticeable due to its distinctive pattern of perforations and cushioning. This item was not in existence in 1944, the year the movie is set in. See more »
The message is timeless - baseless hatred is stupid
The essential message - one which Miller would have surely intended after seeing Vichy war crimes trials - is that hatred of somebody without rational basis is a waste of life. Meat Loaf's character, Fred, has known Lawrence for many years, and yet when the time comes, at the bidding of his fanatical supporters, he allows them to attack a man who is not part of their "target" group. For me, this is the crucial message - it doesn't matter what Lawrence and his wife do from this point onwards - they are marked, and have chance to save themselves by using reason. Animal aggression and anger have blinded Fred's Union thugs to reality.
A friend of mine suggested I should see "The Wave" to study how irrational hatred and evil ideology can take over people without them realising it. I once conducted an experiment in a role-playing game, and was shocked to see how normal and level-headed people welcomed the creation of an oppressive police state - which would ultimate threaten them all - because it crept in in stages.
Fred is the start, his LA friends and preacher idol are the catalyst which pushes his neighbours over the edge into violence without stopping to think that what they are doing in wrong.
The relationship between Lawrence and Finkelstein, the Jewish shopkeeper is a fascinating one, because Lawrence misses the point almost until the end: if the bigots force Finkelstein out, where is he to go? If his family have fled the Nazis, what an irony to be tormented again in the land of "freedom".
That big poster (it's a fairly famous propaganda piece) about American families enjoying the highest standard of living in the world is a very important detail. When you see this film, watch for the grafitti on the subway train, and all the little posters. The message lurks there too.
This movie should be on the curriculum of every school, especially in our time when baseless hatred is being promoted so widely by "reasonable" people who are just extremists in thin disguises.
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