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We watched The Flowers of War on Amazon Prime last night. I wasn’t impressed. There were too many people being stupid, but I suppose that is probably more realistic than the action-adventure movies were the hero always knows exactly what to do and then does it without any hesitation. My wife thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story revolves around a Westerner protecting some Chinese who have taken refuge in a western church compound during the Rape of Nanking. We saw another movie with a very similar storyline a while back. I suppose I can’t blame the movie people for fixating on this one story. Outside of this one enclave it was pretty much just murder and mayhem and it wouldn’t take long to get your fill of that. Unless you’re demented. We’ll get back to that.

There were a couple of bits that stood out for me. One was the view through the Chinese sharpshooter‘s rifle scope. Usually these views in movies just have the bare visual cues to indicate that you are looking through the shooters scope, that is, the view is restricted in a circle in the center of an otherwise black screen, and there will be reticle overlay (see above photo). In this movie they showed the image going from a blur and then into focus along with some distortion. This is more what it’s like with rifle scopes. You need to have your head in the proper position, not just in line with scope, but also at the proper distance. It takes some getting used to.

This happened during the one action-adventure scene. The Chinese sharpshooter strews some grenades around an area, lures the bad guys in and then proceeds to decimate them by detonating the grenades with well placed rifle bullets. He dies a heroes death because there is only one of him and there is an endless supply of bad guys.

Another part that was (unpleasantly) well done was the portrayal of the Japanese troops as crazed with blood lust, bent on raping the women and killing everyone. Real horror show stuff. Don’t see that on the screen very often, at least not in shows involving recent history.

Christian Bale portrays a mortician who has come to Nanking to prepare a recently deceased priest for burial. Makes you wonder what kind of idiot he is. Who would come to a city that has been turned into a war zone? But churches have their own agenda. There may be a war going on, but we have our rituals and we are going to observe them. And our mortician is not the brightest guy. His only interests money, booze and, when the harlots show up, women.

Oh yes, the harlots. A band of whores seeks refuge in the church and in spite of the whole world going to shit all around them spend their time as if everything was normal, i.e. squabbling about clothes and jewelry and who is being bitchy. A couple of them even sneak out to fetch some earrings and guitar strings from their old home which gets them, unsurprisingly, killed. I suspect logical thinking

WW2 eliminated most of the culture of mass-murder from Japan and Germany, but it is still going on in other parts of the world, notably Southeast Asia and Africa, though it is not quite as organized or on the same scale. But it still pops up on a semi-regular basis all over the world. Some demented jerk gets hold of a powerful device (gun, car or bomb) and proceeds to lay to waste all those around him. The news media has a field day with every instance of aberrant behavior. Mass murder gives them a chance to spout off about something different than who’s-fucking-who. Sex, drugs and / or violence, it’s all the same to them.

The more people you have, the more normal people you have, but you also get more people on the fringe and the more people you get on the fringe, the weirder and wider that fringe gets. I don’t think we will ever get a handle on it. Even if we get the ‘thought police’, they will never be able to catch everybody, and that might be a good thing. If everyone is the same and we know how everybody thinks, would we every get any new ideas? Many new ideas are bad, but every once is a while a good one pops up. Stamping out the abnormal could very well lead to stagnation, and then, when the spiders from Mars invade, what are you going to do, Bucky? Well, punk, are you feeling lucky?