Thursday, January 19, 2006

Peach Schnapps, it's disgusting...

After class, I made my way over the gym, where War of the Worlds was playing in its most recent incarnation, and I thought it was particularly appropriate considering our discussion earlier today about values as shaping our approach to security. If you decide to call the world in the film the "state", you can draw some interesting parallels to the earlier discussion. The entire world faces a fairly crushing defeat, even total annihilation at the hands of the invading force, the Tripods. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and his son Robby Ferrier have very different values in terms of security. Ray is interested in survival, which is why he opposes Robby's desire to join the army fighting the Tripods. Robby places more value on both fighting the Tripods to "get back at them", while his father places more value on survival. Because Robby places more emphasis on fighting the Tripods, he seems to be more community-minded, which prompts him to scale the raised gangplank on the Hudson ferry to save the men and women who are dangling off of it. Ray, by contrast, actually ends the life of another person (Tim Robbins) in order to protect his daughter's life, and to a lesser extent his own.

While this is a particularly broad parallel, it is interesting to watch the interplay between values, even of characters placed in a similar situation by the invading force. Ray is willing to sacrifice a bit of his own integrity, even his moral beliefs, in order to ensure his survival and that of his family. Robby, on the other hand, is willing to sacrifice his own life strugglign against the invasionary force because he has different values. Frankly the struggle between father and son reminded me a bit of the struggle between surrendering to ensure the survival of France in some form and the resistance during Vichy France, if only in the most generic terms.

I think it equally interesting that Ray's values shift during his flight from the Tripods. He finds himself forced to defend a group of people when his daughter is taken up into one of the Tripods and he follows her. Afterward, he reaches out to the soldiers to point out that they can destroy the ailing Tripod in Boston, which is not really the sort of action he would have done in the first half of the film. This line of analysis is perhaps a bit thinner, but I do think it's an interesting idea, that even during a conflict values will shift, necessitating a different cost/benefit analysis with regard to what one is willing to accept in terms of security.

Okay, that's it for my treadmill deconstruction of the film.

6 comments:

Robert Farley said...

What's it with the peach schnapps, thing?

Meow said...

Tim Robbins offers Ray Ferrier some Peach Schnapps when Ray and his daughter take shelter in Robbins' basement, commenting that it's nasty but that it's still alcohol.

Mini Mao said...

Peach Schnapps is bad, but Tom Cruise is worse.

Meow said...

Mini Mao--truer words were never spoken.

waw waw said...

Peach Schnapps is actually good, I don't see the reference to the movie.

Meow said...

Waw waw, I respectfully draw your attention to my second comment.