Cinematic geopolitics

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  1. 1. Cinematic Geopolitics In recent years, lm has been one of the major genres within which the imaginaries involved in mapping the geopolitical world have been represented and reected upon. In this book, one of Americas foremost theorists of culture and politics treats those aspects of the geopolitical aesthetic that must be addressed in light of both the post-Cold War and post-9/11 world and contemporary film theory and philosophy. Beginning with an account of his experience as a juror at lm festivals, Michael J. Shapiro in Cinematic Geopolitics analyzes the ways in which film festival space and both feature and documentary lms function as counter-spaces to the contemporary violent cartography occasioned by governmental policy, especially the current war on terror. Inuenced by the cinemaphilosophy relationship developed by Gilles Deleuze and the politics of aesthetics thinking of Jacques Rancire, the books chapters examine a range of lms from established classics like The Deer Hunter and The Battle of Algiers to contemporary lms such as Dirty Pretty Things and The Fog of War. Shapiros use of philosophical and theoretical works makes this cutting- edge examination of lm and politics essential reading for all students and scholars with an interest in lm and politics. Michael J. Shapiro is a Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA. His research and teaching are in the areas of political theory, global politics, and cultural studies. Among his publications are: Methods and Nations: Cultural Governance and the Indigenous Subject (Routledge, 2004) and Deforming American Political Thought: Ethnicity, Facticity and Genre (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).
  2. 2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 GLOBAL HORIZONS Series Editors Richard Falk, Princeton University, USA and R.B.J. Walker, University of Victoria, Canada We live in a moment that urgently calls for a reframing, reconceptualizing, and reconstituting of the political, cultural and social practices that underpin the enterprises of international relations. While contemporary developments in international relations are focused upon highly detailed and technical matters, they also demand an engagement with the broader questions of history, ethics, culture and human subjectivity. GLOBAL HORIZONS is dedicated to examining these broader questions. 1. International Relations and the Problem of Difference David Blaney and Naeem Inayatullah 2. Methods and Nations Cultural Governance and the Indigenous Subject Michael J. Shapiro 3. Declining World Order Americas Imperial Geopolitics Richard Falk 4. Human Rights, Private Wrongs Constructing Global Civil Society Alison Brysk 5. Rethinking Refugees Beyond States of Emergency Peter Nyers 6. Beyond the Global Culture War Adam Webb 7. Cinematic Geopolitics Michael J. Shapiro
  3. 3. Cinematic Geopolitics Michael J. Shapiro
  4. 4. First published 2009 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business 2009 Michael J. Shapiro All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN 10: 041577635X (hbk) ISBN 10: 0415776368 (pbk) ISBN 10: 0203892003 (ebk) ISBN 13: 9780415776356 (hbk) ISBN 13: 9780415776363 (pbk) ISBN 13: 9780203892008 (ebk) This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2008. To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledges collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk. ISBN 0-203-89200-3 Master e-book ISBN
  5. 5. To the memory of my cousin, Malcolm Greenberg, 19302004 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
  6. 6. Contents List of Figures ix Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 1 The new violent cartography 16 2 Preemption up close: lm and pax Americana 39 3 Fogs of war 64 4 The sublime today: re-partitioning the global sensible 89 5 Aesthetics of disintegration: allegiance and intimacy in the former Eastern bloc 113 6 Perpetual war? 133 Notes 156 Index 172
  7. 7. Figures I.1 Jerry Black 9 I.2 Landscape 10 I.3 The plump white adolescent 11 I.4 The Native American 12 I.5 Lena 13 I.6 Vaughn 14 1.1 Tomas Munitas photo of a soldier 17 1.2 Ethan Edwards arrives 20 1.3 Ethan and Martin 21 1.4 Bush, These are bad people 35 1.5 One of the bad people 36 1.6 Detainees 37 2.1 Bering, I never noticed 43 2.2 Ryan 52 2.3 Boyle 53 2.4 El Playon 55 2.5 Reagan 56 2.6 The Sheraton Hotel 57 2.7 Colonel Hyde with cigar 59 2.8 Old woman with cigar 60 3.1 The Bosnian patrol 67 3.2 Landscape with trench 69 3.3 Ciki and Nino 73 3.4 Seascape with weapons 78 3.5 Rationalized bombing 81 3.6 The decentered McNamara 82 3.7 Jimmy Mirikitani 85 3.8 Mirikitanis Hiroshima drawing 86 4.1 Guo with Okwe in the background 102 4.2 Okwe in the Baltics basement 105
  8. 8. 5.1 Anatoli in Kiev 125 6.1 Fuck it at the wedding 135 6.2 Factory interior 138 6.3 Malicks landscape as warscape 140 6.4 Witt in another world 142 6.5 The men in the bar 146 6.6 Ciminos landscape as warscape 150 x Figures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
  9. 9. Acknowledgments I am especially indebted to Jochen Peters of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Troms for inviting me to serve as a juror at two Troms International Film Festivals and to the jurors with whom I served (see Introduction). I want also to thank those who invited presentations of prototypes of the various chapters, commented on them, or inspired and supported aspects of my thinking and analyses: Jane Bennett, Peter Burgess, Bill Connolly, Mick Dillon, Jason Frank, Jon Goldberg-Hiller, Bianca Isaki, Sankaran Krishna, Debbie Lisle, Nizar Messari, Daniel Bertrand Monk, Joao Nogueira, Rob Walker, Cindy Weber. I also owe special thanks to the students in Rio who took my seminar on cinematic geopolitics and edied me on the subject of Brazilian lms: Daniel Mauricio Aragao, Moema Viera Correa, Andrea Freitas da Conceicao, Carlos Frederico Pereira da Silva Gama, Fabiano Mielniczuk, Marcello Mello Valenca, and Roberto Vilchez Yamato. My greatest debt is to my wife and film-watching partner, Hannah Tavares, whose compassion and critical thinking accompany me everywhere. This book is dedicated to the memory of my late cousin, Malcolm Greenberg, who took me to see one of my first war films, the Fred Zinnemann film version of James Joness novel From Here to Eternity. Malcolm and his friend Alan provided the rst lm commentary I had ever heard. Watching the lm as a 13-year-old, I had my attention on heroes and bad guys, and my primary emotion was fear, in reaction to the brutality of Sgt. James R. (Fatso) Judson (played convincingly by Ernest Borgnine). As I regained my composure while Malcolm drove us home from the lm, I listened while he and Alan translated a war lm drama into a complex story about the ways in which characters are shaped by circumstances. Then, as always, Malcolm displayed both a critical and a generous view of humanitys diverse personae. I proted from being exposed to both of his dispositions.
  10. 10. Introduction Two historical events, one in which I participated and one that I merely witnessed, supplied the initiating impetus for this book. First, during the third week of January 2005, while President George W. Bush was using his second inaugural address to rally support for his war on terror, deployed at home and abroad, I was with over ve thousand people attending the Troms International Film Festival (the TIFF). Up in the Arctic Circle in Norway, in a nation that has often played a mediating role in a world of intra- and inter-state violence, I was performing as a necessarily judgmental viewer. I served on a ve-person jury charged to select one among ten lms for Den Norske Fredslmprisen (The Norwegian Peace Film Award). Along with four other jurors, I watched the lms and engaged in deliberations about both their artistic merits and their relevance to the contested concept of a peace lm. In addition, I participated in a panel discussion on the concept of a peace lm and interacted with our audience, containing both festival attendees and students from the University of Troms. Thus situated in a cinematic heterotopia, I began the reflections on the relationship of film to the geo- and bio-politics of war and peace and to other aspects of violence versus sympathy and interpersonal generosity that are the foci of investigations and analyses in this book.1 Thanks to our jury coordinator, Jochen Peters, who administers the University of Tromss Center for Peace Studies, and the jurors with whom I servedEva Gran, the director of the Troms branch of Norways UN information agency, Margreth Olin, a Norwegian filmmaker and director, Ola Lund Renolen, the cultural director for the municipality of Trondheim, Norway, and Alberto Valiente Thoresen, a student in the Peace Studies program at the University of Tromsmy views were contested, edied, and often changed. During the course of a week, I was led to confront the limits of my own film viewing in particular and to the wa