Filmwell: “Memories, Dreams & Revolutions”

Mike Hertenstein ruminates on revolutions old and new via Iranian and Romanian cinema (emphasis mine):

For me, I realize it’s no skin off my nose — that my body or family or culture isn’t on the line — that it’s easy for me to rush out there to tote my sign in the square before the dictator flees. Indeed, I like to think I have a healthy skepticism about the murkiness of my own motives (though maybe that’s just my hero narrative). There were Marxists in Daley Plaza trying to get a piece of the revolution; I got some great pictures. I introduce this only to personalize the ambiguities of an existence that is, for any of us, anything but an exact science. What I’m more sure of is that those times I feel the strongest sense of moral clarity are when an oppressed people rises against their oppressor and carries my heart with them. In this case, my heart was already with the people of Iran because I’ve been watching them in their films for the past decade — marveling at their creativity and resiliancy in the face of limitations, artistic and otherwise, finding myself personally investing in a people who didn’t seem so “foreign” after all. Indeed, after watching them in their films, Iranians seem in many ways more like Americans — like a people Americans could relate to more easily than, say, the French — than folks who haven’t been watching Iranian films may realize. It seemed, and continues to seem, important to participate — to, as the song says, in some small way share the pain and the battle. Wear green. Put a candle in the window. Something.

Whether the present situation in Iran resolves itself into dancing in the streets, or into the investment for the future it will surely otherwise be, time will soon enough tell. I know I’ve seen some amazing things happen in my lifetime. My friend Marek, who grew up on the far side of a once impregnable curtain, tells me that he’d happily applaud even the Russians, if they should decide to use their tanks to intervene on the right side here — and from an ex-Eastern Bloc member, that’s saying something. My suspicion is that it would be better, somehow, for the Iranians to make this revolution themselves, with as few ambiguities left to wrestle with afterwards as possible.

If you enjoy reading Opus and want to support my writing, then become a subscriber for just $5/month or $50/year.
Subscribe Today
Return to the Opus homepage