Table of contents

Red Cliff 3

The weapons of war

We only see one captain dying. Gan Xing sacrifices himself in a fire attack. The battle at the Red Cliffs was won by fire attacks. We realize we had seen the man die in fire before, but had not realized: His anger & desire were married in contemplating & experiencing […]

Red Cliff 2

The art of war & deception

What do we see of the art of war? There are three main battles, all long set-pieces. We see formations & maneuvering; a lot of heroic fights, but few duels between heroes. We see a dramatic shift from one army to the other; maneuvering in a disciplined manner […]

Red Cliff 1

The princes & captains go to war

This is the story of a war fought in China some two thousand years ago. A dynasty is falling apart; the country is divided between princes competing for survival. Massive armies, scarring the land, are moving toward the Red Cliffs. Many historical dramas concern the unification of […]

Parental guidance 2

& the children

We have unusually accurate numbers for the generations. The oldest of the three nephews is about twelve, born when the mother was 26. Grandpa had her at 23. Baby boomers indeed started the demographic contraction. For the first time in American history, the American people stopped having kids. The abundant three-child family […]

Parental guidance 1

A look at the grandparents

This is the only family movie published this last Christmas. It is not a Christmas movie, but it is a movie about family coming together & reconciling the different generations. Family movies are quite rare these days, & seldom successful. One suspects that they are unpersuasive. Maybe the American […]

The 13th Warrior 2

A note on love & anger

This man is a Southerner, a poet, whereas the Northerners are warriors. His fate comes from love, which is a law-breaker, & which earned him exile. Their fate comes from harsh necessity; even their women must work; they earn rule or death. He knows luxury; they know survival. […]

The 13th Warrior

A note on the origins of civilization

This is the story of Ahmed ibn Fahdlan ibn Al Abbas ibn Rashid ibn Hamad, an Arab who served the Caliph in Baghdad. Ambassador to savage northern races, he met Vikings. The story he tells is the story of what he saw & heard & said when […]

Saving Private Ryan 2

A note on the price of freedom

Why should the film be called ‘Saving Private Ryan’? This is the mission that makes up the main part of the movie. Aside from the landing in Normandy, that’s the plot. But the name reminds us that the movie is not named after the captain who leads […]

Saving Private Ryan 1

War & individuality

One day, an officer walks up to private Ryan & asks him: James Francis Ryan from Iowa? He says: Yes, sir. How’d you guess that? The captain is not a great guesser, he just keeps at it. What else is there to do? His own men keep guessing about his job; […]