Still Watching: Reds

I seem to be on a primary color kick. Last week I wrote about NYPD Blue, and this week’s Still Watching pic is Reds, an epic directed by Warren Beatty. Apparently 1981 was a banner year for film, at least the ones I seem to be choosing lately. Reds follows the true story of American journalist and die-hard communist John Reed, who was in Russia when the Bolscheviks took power, and his struggle to establish communism in the United States. The film also follows his romance with Louise Bryant, played by Diane Keaton.

This is an epic film, beautifully shot, and Keaton’s performance as Louise Bryant is truly phenomenal. I found Beatty’s character very one-note for most of the movie, but Jack Nicholson gives a turn as cynical playwright Eugene O’Neill, which more than makes up for it. I won’t go into too many specifics about the movie itself. I recommend watching it, but with your propoganda filter on high.

Perhaps the best accomplishment of this film is that the ideology it spent three hours exalting, it tears down in a space of about fifteen minutes. The problem with any humanistic ideology is that, obviously, it depends on humans. The basic problem with Marxism is that it excludes God, and sets itself up for failure in doing so. Maureen Stapleton, who plays Emma Goldman, one of Reed’s comrades in the communist movement, confesses to him at the end that the revolution they had stood behind for so long is not what they thought it would be. “Nothing is working,” she tells him, and this expresses more futility of purpose than just the failure of their utopia.

All political ideologies have some good intentions in them, be they liberal or conservative in nature. We know that there should exist something better than what does, so many of us spend our lives, individually and collectively, seeking it in all the wrong places. The problem with seeking political solutions to the world’s problems is that they are all man-based, and will always be foiled by one evil or another. This is not to say that we should, as citizens, be ignorant or abstain from any political involvement. We should always remember, though, that there is no man-made system which is equal to our Savior, and in the end, all political solutions will be temporary at best.

About Kristi Israel

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