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Lessons on Despiration
Be aware that this episode contains a great deal of extremely gruesome video footage and photography of the casualties and devestation of the Dresden raid and of air and ground combat related to the story line. I expect many people will find it disturbing and perhaps horrifying.
I have been aware of the Dresden raid for several decades but never learned the details. I was anxious to learn more and I chose this episode from the series to watch first. For me, this was an excellent overview of the events leading up to the raid, of the actions that transpired during the raid and the reslting impact on the war. The allies motivations for proceding with the raid are supported by these historical events.
Thoughout the episode the program directly confronts the overarching question whether the action against Dresden was immoral even in an environment of "Total War" (a term esposed by Hitler). I feel the episode gives a balanced description of controversy. I addition to the Allies motivations it presents the German perspective but distinguishes fact from propoganda and describes the regret felt by many Allied leaders in the aftermath.
While the program presents the various opinions it does not endorse any of them. Perhaps the producers, directors and writers feel as I do; that safe in my home 75 years later, I don't feel qualified nor justified in making a judgement. But I felt they they are suggesting Dresden should serve as warning against such actions in the future.
Thud Pilot (2018)
Thunderchief Stories in the Pilots Own Words
"Thud Pilot" tells the stories of the F-105 Thunderchief and the pilots who flew them during the Vietnam War. Like many films in this genre it tends to glamourize the aircraft and pilots. What sets it apart are the extended accounts by the pilots and of their experiences flying the Thuds in combat over Vietnam. Their account are lengthy and detailed with some emotion and commentary. Each account is framed with historical background so the viewer understands the context of the pilot's stories. While the film is structured to document the aircraft the pilot's and maintenance chief's stories steal the show.
The film presents a scathing rebuke to the military tactics by which the Thuds were deployed attributing the tactic to timid politiciacians who had no idea how to win the Vietnam War. Many examples are presented of how these tactics unnecessarily endanged the lives of the Thud pilots and resulted in the loss of many men and machines. The film details the ineffective tactics which were eventually discarded but only after decisive opportunities for the Thunderchiefs to impact the war were lost.
There is a quick look at the Vietnam War protests with a comment that the protestors tooks sides with the North Vietnamese. While that may have been a common sentiment of the day it is not a valid historical note. This short segment also ads nothing to the film and would have been better left on the cutting room floor.
House of Little Deaths (2016)
Behind the Scenes of a Modern Day Brothel
House of Little Deaths is the story of a group of women who live and work as prostitutes in a brothel in Philadelphia. It is presented in documentary style making it easy to forget the story is fiction and may not be a realistic portrail of life in a brothel.
The women have bonded to a signifagant extent into a family. Yet they still seem to feel a great deal of loneliness, disatissfaction with their lives and bodies and isolation from their local community and the world as a whole. They feel trapped in their lives by a lack of options, lack of outside relationships and the hold of sisterhood they have grown into. They seem to have a general dislike for their clients and are awkward interacting with them.
The film is long and plodding but it eventually grabs you through the dramatic cinematography. The cinematography is rather avant garde with extended scenes in black and white, false color or soft focus. There are extended close ups such as face, feet, knees with no dialog. The faces are particularly gripping as the videographer and actresses work very well together to subtly capture emotions and emotional transitions.
Over all it is a sad, depressing look at the lives of prostitutes even though they have excellent working conditions. "Little Deaths" normally refers to female orgasms but I think the intent here is a more morose reference to the women's lives. Even joyous events are met with trepidation. I can't can speak to the accuracy of this perspective but the film encourages the viewer to look at prostitution in it's mundane reality rather than the stereotypical perspective of Hollywood films.