Oct 8, 2018

Who'll Stop the Rain

While it can certainly argued that the Occident died with the capitulation of the German 6th Army (Wehrmacht) at the Battle of Stalingrad (or as Louis-Ferdinand Céline once stated, “Stalingrad. . . The fall of Stalingrad was the end of Europe. There's been a cataclysm. Its epicenter was Stalingrad. After that you can say that white civilization was finished, really washed up”), I think it is safe to say that the rapid decline of white America—a decidedly deracinated Euro-mutt population with a rapidly dissolving bastardized WASP culture mixed with other European elements—was more or less officially confirmed with the rather spiritually and culturally corrosive 1960s counterculture movement, so naturally any film that depicts this phenomenon in any way is something that I am very interested in as I can only think of a handful of serious films that even dare to touch, let alone thoughtfully explain, this seemingly apocalyptic paradigm shift. Certainly, at least in an allegorical sense, Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) aka Dog Soldiers directed by Czech-born British Jew Karel Reisz (Isadora, The French Lieutenant's Woman)—a somewhat underrated filmmaker that was not afraid of alienating audiences via a subversive blend of morally dubious antiheroes, cynicism, misanthropy, and less than happy endings—depicts this scenario, even if it was not exactly the director’s true intention. Indeed, when it comes down to it, the genre-defying film is really a largely bleak expression of (post)hippie nihilism featuring a sort of Nietzschean active-nihilist action hero, a doped-up half-heeb heroine, and said heroine’s unhinged passive-nihilist husband. Based on the novel Dog Soldiers (1974) by Robert Stone, who co-wrote the script, the film also has the misfortune of being cheaply named after a rock song (in this case a Creedence Clearwater tune, which of course appears throughout the film). Luckily, unlike Sam Peckinpah’s terribly tedious and twaddling trucker turd Convoy (1978)—a film named after the 1975 country and western novelty song performed by C. W. McCall—Reisz’s film has much more to offer than simple mindless entertainment for beer-guzzling proles and meth-addled mechanophiliac pricks.

Luckily, Reisz is certainly one of the more ‘European’ of Judaic filmmakers as even his American films like The Gambler (1974)—a film based on a semi-autobiographical screenplay by Judaic pervert James Toback—reveal a style and cerebral essence that has more to do with European arthouse than Hollywood entertainment. After all, Who'll Stop the Rain is nothing if not a pensive yet prodding philosophical bummer that does the seemingly impossible by managing to be one of the most dejecting and suicide-inducing films relating to the Vietnam War that does not really depict any battle scenes from said war. In its depiction of a couple (ex)hippies ostensibly greedily transporting a large amount of drugs (in this case, three kilos of heroin) across the country and ultimately destroying their lives in the process, Who'll Stop the Rain is like an intelligent man’s Easy Rider (1969) as it lacks the inane leftist-boomer agitprop and anti-redneck hysteria.  Notably, the source writer Stone based the lead character, Ray Hicks, off of Beat Generation figure Neal Cassady—a somewhat tragic and self-destructively nihilistic criminal-cum-muse that acted as the inspiration for the character of ‘Dean Moriarty’ in his pal Jack Kerouac's famous novel On the Road (1957)—who he became acquainted with due to their mutual friendship with LSD-addled countercultural novelist Ken Kesey.

While the Beats are undoubtedly (somewhat rightly) regarded as proto-hippies, their philosophical roots are somewhat complex and include German conservative revolutionary sage Oswald Spengler's two-volume magnum opus The Decline of the West (1918-1922), which was gifted by literary junky William S. Burroughs to Kerouac in 1945 and inspired both writers' obsession with the spiritual and cultural decay of the United States. As Beatdom Literary Journal writer Lee McRae noted in his essay The Plurality of Beat Spirituality in regard to this imperative Faustian influence, “...Spengler suggests that it is those who are downtrodden and downbeat who will prevail when social structures collapse. Spengler denotes these as the ‘fellaheen,’ a term originally ascribed to an Arabian peasant or labourer. Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs found that the ‘fellaheen’ were all around them in America; the underclass, the racially marginalised and the generally inferior were all considered to be part of this much darker but all the more real existence [...] In an article by Stephen Prothero entitled ON THE HOLY ROAD he links the Spenglerian notion of the ‘fellaheen’ to two inspirational Beat figures, Neal Cassady and Herbert Huncke [...] It was only in the hedonism and voyeuristic stability of Neal Cassady where the Beats would begin a new route and move forward in their establishment of a ‘New Vision.’ What distinguished Cassady from Huncke was a criminality that was awash with pleasure, a larceny of delight regardless of economic reward. This led to Cassady being idolised as a free-thinking Beat contemporary, or as Ginsberg coins in his poem ‘Howl,’ ‘secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver – Joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls.’”

Of course, the film's antihero is a fictional character and might be best described as the hopelessly hotheaded yet surprisingly brilliant blond beast hate-child of Cassady and Rambo.  A disgruntled Vietnam War turned merchant marine that moonlights as a pot dealer and has turned his war inward and believes in nothing aside from his own strength and will-to-power, Hicks senselessly decides to risk his life and freedom to transport coke simply for the thrill of helping a friend in a precarious predicament and not because he is compelled by any sort of petty greed.  A sort of self-stylized Nietzsche Zen Warrior, Hicks is certainly not afraid to fight but he seems to be hardly interested in joining another army.  Indeed, Hicks' philosophy and motivations are arguably summed up in Julius Evola's description of the Beats in Ride the Tiger (1961) where the right-wing anarchist philosopher notes that, “The heritage of the precursors of European nihilism has largely been translated, in these movements of ruined youth, into the crude forms of life as it is lived.  An important trait here is the absence of any social-revolutionary motive and the belief that no organized action can change things.  That is the difference from the left-wing intellectuals who condemn bourgeois society, and from the nihilists of the past.  ‘Work, read, prepared in groups, believe, then have your back broken—no thanks, that's not for me,’ says one of Kerouac's characters.  This is the end result at which the ‘revolution’ of the left has practically arrived after its triumph, after passing the phase of simple revolt.  Camus made it quite plain after the period of his communist illusions: The revolution has betrayed its origins with the constitution of new yokes and a new conformism, more obtuse and absurd than ever.”  With no political movement or revolution to support, Hicks simply settles for the joy and excitement that comes with any sort of anti-bourgeois rebellion, no matter how stupid and pointless the ‘cause,’ hence the tragedy of the character.

 Of course, there is no denying that director Reisz was, like many of his tribe, a leftist and he attempted to direct the film from that perspective, or as British film theorist Colin Gardner explained in his book Karel Reisz (2006), “DOG SOLDIERS is a watershed film in Reisz’s career because it marks the culmination of his long relationship to the New Left, beginning with his involvement with the CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] and MARCH TO ALDERMASTON and his theoretical writings on the social role of documentary for UNIVERSITIES AND LEFT REVIEW in the late 1950s. His collaboration with Stone reflects his growing acknowledgement of an irreparable rift between organized politics, rooted in party discipline and commitment to external social change, and the counter-cultural idea of living in and for oneself as a community of enlightened individuals. The former idea was rooted in Marx—a question of changing the world through direct action—the latter in visionary, utopian thinkers such as Emerson, Thoreau and Rimbaud, whereby a change in consciousness will necessitate a concomitant change in life itself.” Luckily, aside from being what I see as a symbolic depiction of the death of white America as incited by a degenerate anti-culture and corrupt government, the film seems to be an allegorical expression of Reisz’s own dejection in regard to the abject failure of the counterculture movement and how it devolved into mindless self-destruction nihilism, hedonism, and—arguably most hypocritically and revealing—greed. Indeed, although lapsed hippies that are into Nietzsche, the two main male (anti)heroes are set on a course of self-destruction ostensibly out of greed, or to quote Nietzsche by way of Gardner in relation to Reisz’s film, “Man would rather will nothingness than not will.”  In the film, antihero Hicks goes on a senselessly dangerous mission to smuggle dope just for the hell of it but at least it offers him the chance to play the Übermensch and not live by anyone else's rules because, as he states, “When I left the Marines I made myself a promise. Never again am I going to be fucked around by morons. The next mother who tries to make me back off is going to have to live it out with me.”

 One certainly realizes that Robert Stone’s source novel was practically begging to be adapted into a film when reads vintage reviews like that of The New York Times that describes it as, “A version of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE in which the object of human greed is not gold dust but three kilograms of pure unadulterated heroin . . . three kilos of heroin that become a resonant metaphor of a corruption spreading across America . . . great power and emotional impact.” It should also be noted that reviewers oftentimes compared the novel to the literary classics of such greats as Ernest Hemingway and Joseph Conrad (in fact, the book begins with a quote from the latter’s classic 1899 novella Heart of Darkness). Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the film is nowhere near as ‘politically incorrect’ as the novel and does not feature unforgettably hilarious lines like, “He’s a Jew from television, a big faggot. We show him the blade, man, he’ll shit his pants.” Luckily, the very rotten essence and core aspects of the novel are retained and these things come together in a manner that would more likely appeal to a right-wing anarchist than to a ‘bobo’ (bourgeois bohemian), Limousine Marxist, or burnout boomer hippie bum.  After all, it is no coincidence that the film is largely forgotten.

Indeed, Who'll Stop the Rain contains no ‘positive vibes’ nor ‘California Dreamin’ for some deluded hippie utopia, as the film is a decided downer that, aside from being anti-authoritarian, is not likely to appeal to a leftist pussy with any sort of half-baked peacenik (anti)ethos. Despite the film’s Judaic director, it is also somewhat unintentionally covertly counter-kosher, as the female heroine, who causes much trouble for the male leads due to her innate incompetence as a result of being a lazy suburban junky in a perpetual dope haze, is the (half)Jewess daughter of an arrogant Judaic intellectual that owns a bookstore. On top of that, the most despicable villain is depicted by ogre-like kosher character actor Richard Masur, who has clearly mastered the lowclass Jewish gangster caricature. In short, the film is more about the Age of the Aryan American apocalypse than the Age of Aquarius (though it can certainly be argued that they are one and the same). To go back to Nietzsche, the film is certainly a bittersweet reminder of his remark, “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” 

 The film begins in Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War, but instead of exciting battle scenes involving the gunning down of gooks the viewer is exposed to the uncomfortably monotone ravings of a disillusioned war correspondent named John Converse (Michael Moriarty) as he narrates the words of a letter to his wife Marge (Tuesday Weld) where he complains about the fact that the U.S. military has declared elephants “enemy agents” and rationalizes his dangerous self-destructive plan to smuggle dope, or as he writes, “Dear, Marge. I’m coming home. I remember your saying when I left that people were dying and that I was crapping around with fate to come here. You were more right than you could imagine […] I have no more cheap morals to draw from all this death. So I’ve taken action. An old friend from my marine days will be coming to see you soon. His name is Ray Hicks. We owe him $1,000. I want you to pay him. I have started something here that I can’t stop. And it’s the right thing, I know. You see, in a world where elephants are pursued by flying men, people are just naturally going to want to get high. I’ll explain when I see you, and you’ll understand.” Indeed, John has “taken action” in a most irrationally deleterious fashion by  agreeing smuggle three kilos of heroin from Vietnam to San Francisco, but he is somewhat of a passive pansy and uses his much tougher ex-marine buddy Ray Hicks (Nick Nolte)—a merchant marine that sells pot to college girls on the side—to take virtually all the serious risks.  As a result of his dubious drug smuggling scheme, Converse causes his wife and best friend to become the hunted in a film that naturally evolves into an offbeat road movie that makes for a nice counterpoint to similarly themes works like Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Richard C. Sarafian's Vanishing Point (1971), and James William Guercio's Electra Glide in Blue (1973) in terms of taking a (quasi)existentialist approach to dismantling the counterculture dream.  Arguably, out of all these films, Who'll Stop the Rain is the most meditative and philosophically ambiguous.

Naturally, Hicks uses the merchant marine vessel that he works on to smuggle the drugs, but he initially refuses to get involved with Converse’s dubious scheme for obvious reasons. Aside from the great risks associated with smuggling such a large amount of narcotics, Hicks begins to rightly question his old friend Converse’s sanity when they reunite. For example, when Converse declares that “Jesus, that’s fucking piquant” after discovering that his friend reads Nietzsche, Hicks is somewhat taken aback by the remark and replies, “Piquant? I don’t know what the hell that means. You turned me on with that book.” In short, Converse seems to have a totally different personality from the one his friend best remembers and seems to suffering from some degree of amnesia and mental feebleness as if he is on the brink of suffering a similar sorry mental fate to his one-time hero Nietzsche. While Hicks believes it is “bad karma” to smuggle the dope and does not really trust his friend, he ultimately makes the major mistake of agreeing and stating, “Okay, I’ll carry your scag, Johnny. Hell, why not? A little adrenaline cleans the blood. But make sure I get treated right. Self-defense is an art I cultivate.” Quite unlike his insufferably mercurial pencil-pusher buddy, Hicks is a man of action and martial prowess that has no qualms about inviting great danger into his life, but unfortunately the nihilistic odyssey proves to be ultimately fatal for the manly merchant marine.  Unbeknownst to Hicks, Converse setup up the drug deal with a dubious dame named Charmian (Gail Strickland), who is friends with a corrupt DEA agent that plans to utilize whatever means necessary to get the dope once it lands on American shores.  In short, Hicks because the pawn of a pawn, but he is not all that unwitting about it and immediately suspects danger right from the get-go, hence his interest in the deleterious mission in the first place.

 While Hicks manages to make it safely to San Francisco with the dope, Converse’s jaded junky wife Marge forgets that he is coming and does not even bother to procure the money that her husband promised.  Indeed, when Hicks arrives at Converse's house to drop-off the bag of junk and get his monetary reward, Marge acts obnoxiously confused and behaves as if her husband's friend is some sort of scary nuisance that she just cannot be bothered to deal with.  Unfortunately for Marge, she is forced to deal with it.  Indeed, the money is the least of the two’s problems as they are being trailed by two gangsters, Danskin (Richard Masur) and Smitty (Ray Sharkey), who work for a corrupt DEA agent named Antheil (Anthony Zerbe). As it turns out, Converse has been being unwittingly used by Antheil as a pawn in the drug smuggling operation and the two goons are there to collect the dope and possibly kill all the occupants of the house, including Marge’s/Converse’s young daughter Janey, but luckily Hicks proves to be such a fierce fighter that he brutally beats and ties both of them up.  A somewhat Loki-like jokester, Hicks even takes a certain sadistic glee in taking out his enemies and even demonstrates a certain tendency to add insult to injury when doing so.  In fact, even a sociopathic lowlife like Danskin feels a deep sense of degradation when Hicks dares to chain him to a toilet as if to remind him he is a piece of shit.

Despite not knowing or particularly liking one another (for example, only minutes after first meeting, Hicks says to her, “You dumb cooze. What are you, a junkie?”), Marge and Hicks are forced to flee together in what is ultimately the beginning of a totally unintended but rather crucial road trip where they hope to sell the dope whilst attempting to evade Antheil and his goons. Needless to say, Antheil has Danskin and Smitty capture and torture Converse when he finally arrives in San Francisco. A decidedly dejected dude that seems completely dead inside, Converse maintains his flat affect and acts less than entertained by the torture and bogus claims by Danskin and Smitty that his buddy Hicks is banging his wife.  Seemingly apathetic about even sparing his own life, Converse spews banal nonsensical bullshit to Antheil when questioned. For example, when Antheil asks for information about his wife Marge and her mindset, Converse simply replies with the enthusiasm of a benzo-addled street hooker, “She’s 30 years old. She’s half Irish, half Jewish” and “Pretty moral basically,” thus underscoring his great apathy for his wife and seemingly lack of interest in sparing his own life. Indeed, it only seems to be when Antheil threatens to do something to his daughter that Converse begins to display any sort of superifical desire to help. While Converse's initial desire to get involved with drug smuggling seems like an absurdly misguided and desperate attempt at becoming some sort of neo-Beat Übermensch, his actions and attitude reveal he really personifies a degenerate form of Nietzsche's ‘Letzter Mensch,’ albeit lacking even the desire for comfort.  While Antheil is a treasonous criminal scumbag, he manages to perfectly sum up Converse's pitiful leftist hypocrisy and amorality when he states to him, “I think you're the kind of wise cocksucker that writes a tear-jerk play against the Marines and then turns around and smuggles a shitload of heroin into this country.”  Indeed, while Converse might be against the Vietnam War and mass slaughtering of gooks, he has no qualms about profiting from the epidemic misery, death, and destruction that comes with the flooding of his nation with heroin which is, not coincidentally, the drug that destroyed the counterculture movement.  Indeed, in Who'll Stop the Rain, heroin is certainly a symbol of the greed and mindless hedonism the destroyed utopian dreams of the hippies and ultimately discredited their entire movement.

 While Marge is a closet-junky that regularly semi-covertly downs Dilaudid (aka Hydromorphone) tablets, Hicks gets high on Nietzsche, Zen, and great risk-taking. For example, after reading to her the Nietzsche quote, “In danger all that counts is going forward. By growing used to danger, a man can allow it to become part of him. He grows used to evil,” Hicks reveals to Marge that he agreed to smuggle the dope for her husband simply, “Because he asked me,” adding, “I don’t always have to have a reason for the shit I do.”  As demonstrated by his remark to Marge in regard to the heroin that,  “It belongs to whoever controls it,” Hick certainly believes in and lives by a Nietzschean master-morality, which was indubitably informed by his wartime experiences.  Although totally doped up, Marge is well aware that her husband came back a very different man as a result of his wartime experiences, but when she asks Hicks about how these horrific events might have affected her hubby, he simply states, “In some ways he was beautiful. In some ways he had his head up his ass.” Although he is initially annoyed by her dopey dopehead demeanor and she is initially disturbed by his combination of redblooded brute violence and intense extroversion, Hicks and Marge soon develop such a glaringly socially imperative yet totally organic affection for one another that the viewer finds themselves rooting for their romance despite the great betrayal associated with such an extramarital union. Quite unlike like the mercurially autistic absurdities of her husband, Hicks is exactly the sort of man a damaged dingbat like Marge needs as he could provide her with the sense of protection, security, and strong male affection she desperately needs. Of course, the viewer never doubts that their romance is doomed to fail miserably just like the drug smuggling operation. 

After making a failed attempt to sell the dope to a fat fag friend named Eddie Peace (Charles Haid)—a Hollywood-connected dealer that seems like the sort of degenerate that prides himself on having a harem of underage boys—and nearly killing an English writer named Gerald (James Cranna) by intentionally shooting dope into a vein in the wrong fashion after his preposterously effete comrade insults his intelligence by brazenly attempting to rip him off, Hicks loses some of his stoicism and exposes his truly misanthropic feelings in regard to most of humanity to a visibly disturbed Marge. Indeed, when Marge asks why he almost killed an assumed innocent like Gerald—the seemingly soft and innocent husband of a similarly naive heiress—he angrily replies, “Cause he’s a Martian. They’re all Martians. And I’m a loyal American who fought for my flag. Peace was fucking with me and I don’t take shit from Martians. In Vietnam I had men that were dead the day they hit that place. In the morning they were in Hawaii, in the afternoon they were dead. That’s right, fuck Gerald. I was pissed off. It seemed like a good idea.” At this point, it becomes quite clear that Hicks is a disgruntled war veteran with assumed repressed posttraumatic stress and he is probably not mentally sound enough to ever reenter the American mainstream, so naturally it is only fitting that he go on one more serious military mission. 

After the botched dope deal with Eddie, Hicks drives west with Marge in a stolen Land Rover to a southern New Mexico mountain named ‘El Ojo Grande’ (aka ‘The Big Eye) to hide out in a former Jesuit settlement turned hippie colony that is owned by the antihero’s German Buddhist roshi-cum-pal Dieter Pravda (who, rather curiously, never actually appears in the film despite being an important character in the source novel). As Hicks nostalgically explains to Marge, he did much partying on the mountain in the past and even rigged the entire area with tons of lights and speakers, even remarking with a certain jolly pride, “You know, when I came up here in ’65, there were all kinds of people here. Dieter hauled in a couple of tons of hardware. He had speakers, amplifiers, tape decks, microphones, all kinds of lights. Came in and said we’d got to get it all together. Hook it all up. One big circuit. Well, I’m the only one that knows anything about that shit. So I get the job. Everybody else is so ripped, they couldn’t change a battery in a Jap radio. I’m laying wire from hell to breakfast. Took me about four weeks. And half the time I’m so stoned I couldn’t even talk. But by Christ we did it. One big circuit. Man, we made this mountain boogie.” Needless to say, little did Hicks ever suspect that he would ever use the lights and speakers as imperative weapons in a sort of neo-cowboy guerilla battle against a DEA agent and his goons. It is certainly no coincidence that Hicks decides to return to the magic mountain of his bohemian youth in the end as it is clearly a solacing and even spiritual place that reminds him of his life before his emotionally devastating wartime experiences. While at the mountain, Hicks reveals his feelings for and desire to runaway with Marge, softly stating to her, “We’re going to win this one. You know that? Huh? Listen. If we can lay that stuff of, we’ll go down to Mexico. I know some people there. Hey, hey, maybe we’ll get a boat.” In fact, Hicks even remarks to a Mexican friend in regard to Marge that she’s, “Nothing but class. She's the love of my life, no shit. Beats the hell out of all of them.”  Rather unfortunately, both Hicks and Marge seem to realize that they have no future together, even if they are spared the wrath of the degenerate DEA agent Antheil.

 Rather predictably, there is a climatic showdown of sorts between Hicks and Antheil and his goons near the end of the film. Indeed, in what proves to be a psychedelic battle that vaguely anticipates the more viscerally hallucinatory elements of Apocalypse Now (1979), Hicks guns down Antheil’s degenerates as a light show and Canadian country singer Hank Snow’s 1950 single “The Golden Rocket” provides a certain absurdist ambiance to the situation as if the counterculture movement and the war it opposed are depicted in a symbolic struggle. While Hicks efforts lead to him being able to rescue his friend Converse and reunited him with his wife Marge, the friends decide to temporarily separate since the antihero wants to provide cover for his comrades. Although the friends agree to meet the next day near some desert train tracks, Hicks is severely wounded after being shot by Danskin, who he subsequently kills only seconds later. When Converse and Marge eventually arrive the next morning, they are distressed to discover Hicks’ recently deceased corpse near the tracks in a scenario that was inspired by Beat figure Neal Cassady’s somewhat mysterious death in 1968 (notably, Nolte would subsequently portray Cassady in John Byrum’s somewhat underrated film Heart Beat (1980)). Indeed, Marge immediately cries, “No, no, no, no, Ray! Ray! No, he’s not dead.” When Converse replies, “Marge, I’ve got to bury him,” she demonstrates her hysterical degree of denial by senselessly hitting him while yelling, “No. You’re not going to bury him. Don’t you touch him. Don’t you dare touch him. Get out of here. Get away.” After Marge eventually calms down, Converse buries Hicks’ corpse and then, upon finding the heroin in his dead pal’s bag, pours the dope in the sand in what is ultimately one of the most infuriating gestures of passive-nihilism ever committed to celluloid. In the end, Converse says to Marge, “Move over, Marge. If we stay here and grieve, we’ll be just as dead as he is” and then the two drive away into a white desert devoid to a decidedly dubious future. Needless to say, the film would probably have had a slightly happier ending if Converse had died and Hicks became Marge's new lover. Of course, with the alpha-male dead and the less than happily married couple comprised of a neurotic junky and self-destructive beta-male introvert driving off into what visually seems like oblivion, the film’s conclusion can certainly be symbolic of the white America’s forsaken future. 

There is no question that Who'll Stop the Rain and the novel it was adapted from were both influenced by Nietzschean philosophy, which is arguably most obviously personified by the two very different male leads. Indeed, while John Converse is an expression of the sort of ‘passive nihilism’ that Nietzsche bemoaned as expressed by his obnoxious ‘will to nothingness’ and overall absurd ascetic weakness that he tries in vain to transcend with his idiotic drug smuggling scheme, Ray Hicks—a proud ‘Zen Warrior’ and archetypal man-of-action—embodies ‘active nihilism’ as a muscular mensch of strength that seeks to destroy the world and recreate it in his own image, so it is only fitting that he, not unlike the revolutionary counterculture movement he was part of, dies in the end. Notably, in his book Karel Reisz (2006), Colin Gardner would argue, “…it would be a mistake to say that the film condones the characters’ misguided existentialism […] Reisz undercuts the subjective indulgence of both Converse and Hicks to draw attention to the dangers of an immoral individualism by portraying both the war and its seeming antidote, the escapism of the drug culture, as twin jaws of the same trap. Both men turn to Nietzsche’s amor fati from a helpless sense of the absurdity of war, but they apply its tenets in very different ways.” In his (pseudo)autobiography Ecce Homo (1908), Nietzsche wrote, “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.” While the two characters have undoubtedly accepted their fates, it is doubtful that they ‘love it’ and would embrace the Nietzschean idea of ‘eternal recurrence’ in that they are so content with life that they would relive every second of the same exact life over and over again for eternity. While his wartime experiences have turned Converse into such an emotional cripple that he can barely even remember reading Nietzsche, Hicks’ battle scares have influenced him to be able to live life ‘beyond good and evil.’ As Gardner noted, “Like Converse, Hicks’ existentialism in the novel is born of a traumatic episode in Vietnam […] Since then Hicks has adopted Nietzsche’s idea of will-to-power through a Zen-like faith in the Samurai code (a poster for Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO hangs by the door of his Topanga Canyon hut) […] This allows him to see events less in terms of right and wrong, but like Nietzsche […] as a question of pure Machiavellian power. The heroin for Hicks, as he explains to Marge, is simply another object, which belongs to whoever controls it, and he follows its grail logically and unquestionably to the bitter end.” 

Needless to say, judging by Who'll Stop the Rain, one can only assume that Reisz thought very little of Nietzsche’s philosophies and the characters of Hicks, but as Carl Jung once wrote, “The Jewish race as a whole – possesses an unconscious which can be compared with the ‘Aryan’ only with reserve. Creative individuals apart, the average Jew is far too conscious and differentiated to go about pregnant with the tensions of unborn futures. The ‘Aryan’ unconscious has a higher potential than the Jewish; that is both the advantage and disadvantage of a youthfulness not yet fully weaned from barbarism.” Indeed, the same ‘barbariac’ Aryan spirit, which is totally alien to the Jew, that led to the conquering of North America and creation of the United States is also the same healthy ‘barbarian’ spirit that leads to Hicks’ demise. While the more Jew-like character Converse (and his half-Jewish wife) survives, he achieved none of the glory of his dead friend and is plagued to live the rest of his days as the same miserable banal fellow that he always was. Had Who'll Stop the Rain been directed by an Aryan like Sam Peckinpah or even a self-described “Zen Fascist” Jew like John Milius, it probably would have had a much more overt and nuanced Nietzschean edge.  On the other hand, one of the most interest aspects of the film is the director Reisz's critical approach to the subject matter, which is certainly more nuanced than Alfred Hitchcock's critique of the idea of the Nietzschean Übermensch in his Leopold and Loeb inspired psychological-thriller Rope (1948).

While it would take the so-called ‘acid fascism’ of Charles Manson to put the final nail in the already-corroded coffin of the counterculture movement, Michelangelo Antonioni seemed to cinematically prophesize such a forsaken fate for the subculture with Blow-up (1966), which he unequivocally confirmed with the bizarre surrealist ending of Zabriskie Point (1970). In the Maysles brothers doc Gimme Shelter (1970), Mick Jagger is arguably even depicted coming to the realization that the movement is dead in real time as he watches himself performing “Under My Thumb” while a 18-year-old negro named Meredith Hunter is being stabbed to death by a Hells Angel at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert. In the little-seen (non)cult film The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970) starring a very young and then-unknown Don Johnson, it is demonstrated the counterculture is dead and that even the coolest and most intelligent of hippies sometimes commit suicide as the movement is a soul-destroying spiritual dead-end. In Ivan Passer’s masterpiece Cutter's Way (1981), it is revealed that over a decade after the end of the Vietnam War and death of the counterculture movement, the wounds of war and drug addiction are still very fresh, thereupon underscoring the distinctly deleterious long-term effects of hippie hedonism and the shallow anti-authority (pseudo)ethos that accompanied it. I could go on and on, but I think it is safe to say that Who'll Stop the Rain features the most nuanced depiction of the seemingly perennial dark clouds that followed the so-called ‘Summer of Love’ and how these things contributed to the death of white America. If one sees the final scene of the film where Converse and his wife are driving away in a seemingly endless desert as an allegorical depiction of the aimless road to nowhere that white America has taken since the late-1960s, then one can only imagine that, after four decades, that very same road would now be full of infernal potholes and beat-up cars full of drunken illegal aliens and that the once-barren landscape is now increasingly flooded with every and any sort of forsaken brown person from around the world. 

Notably, in his text The Dispossessed Majority (1972), which was written nearly half a century ago, American racialist writer Wilmot Robertson noted that American cinema no longer represented the character of the country’s white majority population, or as he explained, “The ban on displays of Majority ethnocentrism in art—a ban written in stone in present-day American culture—also reaches back to the Majority cultural past. Chaucer and Shakespeare have been cut and blue-penciled and some of their work put on the minority index. The motion picture of Charles Dickens’s OLIVER TWIST had a hard time being released in the United States because of the recognizably Jewish traits of Fagin. The masterpiece of American silent films, THE BIRTH OF A NATION, can no longer be shown publicly without the threat of picket lines, while Jewish-produced black ‘sexploitation’ films like MANDINGO (1975), replete with the crudest racial slurs against whites, are shown everywhere.” Of course, in a world where a mundanely minimalistic coming-of-age film about a gay negro dope dealer like Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) wins countless highly coveted awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, it is quite clear that things have gotten much more aesthetically and racially degenerate and that the white majority has seemingly given up on making its own true organic cinema, but such is the predictable fate of a nation where a subversive culture-distorting racial minority owns and/or runs all the major film studios despite only making up about 2% of the population (though one can certainly argue that lame independent movements like Mumblecore represents a genuine white movement, albeit of the spiritually neutered and largely racially deracinated post-bourgeois sort). 

 Undoubtedly, the only reason a somewhat ‘illiberal’ film like Who'll Stop the Rain even exists is because it covertly (and, largely, seemingly unintentionally) depicts white American’s decline (also, it probably does not hurt that it was directed by a British Jew). Despite being a Jewish leftist, auteur Reisz was always dubious of leftists movements, at least starting with his commie family comedy Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), or as Gardner explained, “However, while Reisz’s skeptical indictment of Morgan’s madcap, symbolic lip-service to Marxist icons seemed both prescient and justified in 1966, when the British New Left were mired knee-deep in theoretical debate, DOG SOLDIERS seems to be fighting a rearguard action in a factional war that has already been lost. If there were any doubt, then EVERYBODY WINS, Reisz’s final entry into the political stakes (in which Nick Nolte once again plays a compromised seeker of truth), is clear proof that only an absurdist cynicism can prevail when conventional moral values have lost all meaning.” Of course, only an extremely self-destructive absurdist cynicism can prevail in a country where minorities—whether they be racial, sexual, social, etc.—are pampered at the great expense of the majority, hence the real implicit appeal of ‘Donald Trump's Make America Great Again’ campaign. If America is to survive, at least in any healthy organic form, I think one should remember Ray Hicks’s rather simple yet poignant words, “All my life I've been taking shit from inferior people. No more.”  After all, the United States is a nation sown in rebellion by Europid rebels.

While it is easy to write-off Who'll Stop the Rain antihero Hicks as a sociopath, I would argue that he largely personifies everything that once made America great as a fearless and heroic rebel that is willing to risk death out of loyalty his friends, which can hardly be said of the many boomer dopers of his era.  After all, as Evola noted in his insightful essay 1968 essay Youth, Beats, and Right-Wing Anarchists featured in his late book The Bow and the Club (1968), “...I agree with the claim made by some Beats that—contrary to what psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and ‘social workers’ believe—in a society and civilization such as ours, and especially the American one, it is generally in the rebel, the misfit and the antisocial person that the healthy man is to be found.  In an abnormal world, all values are inverted: it is precisely the one who appears abnormal in relation to the exiting milieu who is most likely to be ‘normal’ and to preserve some vital energy.  I cannot agree at all with those who would like to ‘rehabilitate’ such individuals, whom they regard as sick, and to ‘readapt’ them to ‘society.’  One psychoanalyst, Robert Lindner, had the courage to state this explicitly.”  Indeed, in a world where ‘diversity is our strength’ is the most common corporate/government mantra, people with two digit IQs are considered equal to people with three digit IQs, autogynephiles are considered sane enough to read books to elementary school children, miscegenation is a fad, disability is a virtue, Hebraics are lauded as world history's greatest humanists, killing ones unborn baby is regarded the most imperative ‘female right,’ and an overall slave-morality reigns, it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to be considered normal.  In that sense, smuggling heroin as a sort of Nietzschen thrill seems sane by comparison; or, as Ernst Jünger once remarked, “better a criminal than a bourgeois,” especially when the current bourgeoisie is largely comprised of box-wine and Xanax addicted feminists and soy-soaked sods, fanboys, and ethno-masochists.

-Ty E

Sep 6, 2018

Le Silence de la Mer

If there is any specific sort of film that I can do without seeing for the rest of my life, it is any kind of Nazi and/or holocaust themed that was film directed by a 100% kosher Jew, as I cannot think of a single one that I do not find to be phony, pseudo-moralistic, grossly historically inaccurate, insipidly stupid and/or chronically clichéd, at least until relatively recently when I saw Le Silence De La Mer (1949) aka The Silence of the Sea directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samouraï, Le Cercle Rouge). Indeed, as a result of my relative disappointment with his Jean Cocteau adaptation Les Enfants Terribles (1950)—a film that would have surely benefited from being directed by its singularly idiosyncratic surrealist source writer—I have never been that big of a Melville fan, at least until more recently when I realized that the auteur had contributed much more to cinema history than simply a masturbatory affection for old school American film noir. After all, simply the mere idea of an auteur that is famous for Americancentric frog noir adapting Cocteau was totally preposterous to me and I ultimately found Les Enfants Terribles to be like a sort of unintentional parody of the poet-cum-cinemagician, though I have learned to appreciate the film more over the years. Eventually after watching his nihilistic neo-noir Le Samouraï (1967)—a film that is seemingly infinitely superior to perennial hipster Jim Jarmusch's negrofied neo-Beat homage Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)—I came to appreciate Melville slightly more and decided to dig further into his oeuvre. While I still consider the director’s classics like L'armée des ombres (1969) aka Army Of Shadows—a film that is, not without good reason, regarded by some critics as the auteur’s most personal film—to be overrated, I cannot praise enough Melville’s particularly preternatural and equally poetic debut Le Silence De La Mer

 In his entry on Melville in the invaluable two-volume tome Cinema: A Critical Dictionary (1980) edited by Richard Roud, Tom Milne stated in regard to the film that it was, “An entirely outlaw production, since Melville had no union, no authorization to buy film stock, and no rights to Vercors’ novel, LE SILENCE DE LA MER was an act of defiance in more ways than one, and not least because Vercors’ story was, as Melville remarked, essentially anti-cinematographic.” Based on the 1942 book of the same name by Jean Bruller (who published clandestinely under the pseudonymous ‘Vercors’)—a somewhat experimental piece of literary defiance famous for promoting a ‘mental resistance’ against the krauts during the Vichy era—the film was not only Melville’s debut feature, but also the first of a number of cinematic works that the auteur would direct about the French Resistance, which he only relatively recently had been demobbed from thus making it a rather personal work for the auteur. Indeed, unlike shoah showmen like Spielberg and Edward Zwick, Melville—an Alsatian Jew born Jean-Pierre Grumbach who adopted the nom de guerre Melville after the American author Herman Melville upon joining the French Resistance—actually fought the Nazis, lost a brother and various comrades in the war, and had very personal reasons to make a ‘anti-Nazi’ oriented film. Of course, what makes Le Silence De La Mer especially intriguing is that the central figure is a rather sympathetic aristocratic Wehrmacht officer that defies stereotypes and is ultimately more internally destroyed by the Third Reich than the conquered French people that he tries in vain to establish a relationship with after being billeted in their home. Indeed, a rather romantic and absurdly idealistic artistic type, the German officer is a proud Francophile of the sorts that dreams of a long awaited marriage between Germany and France and thus is naturally completely internally obliterated when he realizes that his comrades plan to turn the country into a complete cultural wasteland. 

 Featuring a fittingly German Expressionist-like aesthetic of warmly gloomy shadows and iconic chiaroscuro shots, including the somewhat misleadingly yet nonetheless potent introduction of the German officer making his initial appearance in the film like some sort of ethereally elegant young Teutonic Dracula, the film even has a strangely gothic and even unheimlich essence that certainly makes it standout in Melville’s oeuvre simply on an purely aesthetic level. Interestingly, if the Nazi officer is a ‘monster,’ he is ultimately more sympathetic and likeable than the proudly defiant French male hero and his niece. The deceptively simple story of an elderly intellectual and his niece using the absurdly passive-aggressive tactic of refusing to say a single word to a German officer that rents a room in their home as a form of ‘resistance,’ Le Silence De La Mer is also a film that does not do much to help French stereotypes in regard to arrogance and cowardice yet somehow it manages to give the French a certain understated dignity. Incidentally, according to Melville, Soviet-Jewish writer and propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg—a dubious dude responsible for siring the official holocaust narrative during WWII and inciting the mass murder of Germans with agitprop leaflets featuring remarks like, “There is nothing as beautiful as a German corpse. Kill the Germans! – your old mother begs you, kill the Germans! – your child pleads. Germans are not humans, they are wild beasts”—felt that Vercors’ novel was, “a work of provocation, certainly written by a Nazi to support the Gestapo’s insidious propaganda campaign.” Surely, it is no big surprise that a seemingly sociopathic semite like Ehrenburg would believe such a thing as it does the opposite of his wartime propaganda by humanizing the Teuton and presenting an almost absurdly unconventional relationship between a kindly kraut conqueror and a bitterly defeated frog. 

Despite its less than realist stylization and almost gratingly minimalist mise-en-scène, Le Silence De La Mer is a film that is largely inspired by historical fact and even has some covert ‘realist’ attributes. For instance, the film was actually shot on location at Vercors’ real home where the writer’s real-life interaction with an unconventional German officer took place, or as Melville explained in Melville on Melville (1971) edited by Rui Nogueira as to why he shot it there, “Because it was there that Vercors imagined this story on the basis of reality. A German officer who limped and played tennis as therapy for his leg had actually lived in his house. No rapport grew up between them, but Vercors had noticed that this officer was rather unusual, for his room was not only full of books that bore witness to his exceptional culture also contained a bust of Pascal instead of Hitler’s portrait. Starting from there, Vercors had translated the story into poetic terms. Thus his wife became his niece, for instance, to permit the introduction of a sublime love them.” Indeed, the film certainly does features one of the coldest and most hermetic yet nonetheless potent (anti)love subplots in cinema history, but I digress. Also of note is that the German officer was apparently at least partly inspired by German writer Ernst Jünger who not only served as an army captain in German-occupied Paris, but also, like Melville, was a personal friend of poet and cine-magician Jean Cocteau. Additionally, Jünger and Melville had similar political persuasions as both men were ‘right-wing anarchist’ types that stayed true to a sort of extreme individualism despite their obvious nostalgia for wartime experiences. Undoubtedly, the experimental doc La guerre d'un seul homme (1982) aka One Man's War directed by Argentinean Jew Edgardo Cozarinsky makes for a great double feature with Le Silence De La Mer as it juxtaposes excerpts from Jünger’s Paris WWII diaries with Vichy propaganda from the same era, thereupon bringing more complexity to the figure of the conflicted cultivated kraut officer.

To underscore the historical importance of Vercors’ source novel, Le Silence De La Mer begins with a nameless/faceless resistance fighter opening a suitcase that contains resistance material hidden beneath clothes, including the literary work in question, which is revealed to be written in tribute to “assassinated poet” Saint-Pol-Roux (aka Paul-Pierre Roux). In what ultimately proves to be a rather blunt yet respectably honest disclaimer from Melville, the film also opens with an inter-title that reads, “This film has no pretension of solving the problem of Franco-German relations, for they cannot be solved while the barbarous Nazi crimes, committed with the complicity of the German people, remain fresh in men’s minds.” Of course, after watching the film, one gets the impression that France and Germany shares an indelibly apocalyptic relationship that will remain forever forsaken. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Hitler declared on June, 25 1942 following news of France agreeing armistice terms that it was , “[The] most glorious victory of all time,” especially considering France’s seemingly perennial history of aggression against Germany. Needless to say, for the French, to be conquered and occupied by their ostensible inferiors came with much shame and resentment, which is pretty clear in Melville’s film.  Luckily for the French, Hitler was no Napoleon.

Notably, the film begins with a nameless French uncle (played by Melville's wartime comrade Jean-Marie Robain)—an elderly four-eyed intellectual type that seems to spend most of his time on his ass pondering the deeper meanings of life—stating in regard to the seemingly suicidal absconding of an aristocratic German lieutenant, Werner von Ebrennac (Swiss actor Howard Vernon), from his home, “And so, he had left. And so, he submitted, like the others, like all the others of that miserable nation, and I tried to etch into my mind the events of these lest six months: Our evenings, his words, his revolt. Yet not even he, of all men, had the courage to resist his master’s order. His arrival was preceded by a major military deployment.” For the rest of the film, the uncle recounts how he and his niece (lesbian Rothschild Jewess Nicole Stéphane) spent the last half a year or so ignoring a cultivated and kind, albeit somewhat insanely idealistic, German officer that was renting a room in their humble abode. While it was somewhat easy for the uncle to stay silent, his niece clearly develops a mutual affection and true forbidden love for the German officer that eventually reaches a climax in a most anticlimactic way.   A rather (anti)romantic cinematic where the sexual, social, and metapolitical ideals of a German romantic are crushed in a ruthless manner not unlike that of a half-frozen Iron Cross-adorned corpse of a German soldier being run over by a Soviet T-35 tank on the Eastern Front, Le Silence de la Mer is indubitably a anti-Nazi film yet somehow the viewer finds themselves condemned to suffer the internal misery of a quite cultivated kraut.  Of course, considering the heavy influence of France and its culture on German Conservative literary figures like Stefan George and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (the latter of whom notably killed himself), the figure of the German lieutenant becomes all the more tragically nuanced.  Indeed, the unrequited love subplot in the film is so intensely anti-climatic that it apparently greatly pained queer French Nobel Prize-winning French writer André Gide, or as Melville once explained himself, “I realized that poetry in the cinema is dangerous the day André Gide saw my film. After all, Gide was a man well qualified to understand a story like LE SILENCE DE LA MER, but he was terribly bothered by the girl's attitude. At the screening, it was obvious that he wanted them to rush into each other's arms. Of course, he was already very much in decline when he put himself out to come and see my film. The cinematic side of it passed completely over his head. He couldn't even remember having read the book, which was odd because, for a long time, it was thought in London that Gide had written it, and as a matter of fact, there are things in Vercors's work that are pure Gide. The influence is unmistakable. After the screening, the only thing he could find to say to me was: ‘I think the girl was a fool. She deserved to be spanked.’”

As a sensitive musical composer that once blew off a beauteous blonde bombshell because it disturbed him that she took pleasure in tearing off the wings and limbs of a bug because it bit her, Werner von Ebrennac is the preternaturally poetic sort of individual that has enough wild optimism to succumb to the utopianism of truly believing that the conquering of France by the Third Reich will eventually lead to the “…most beautiful marriage in the world.” As an artistic type, Werner seems somewhat absurd sporting a German officer uniform despite the fact that it looks rather good on him. In fact, the young German lieutenant eventually goes to great pains to not be caught dead in his uniform by the French man and his niece, though that does not stop them from refusing to say a single word to him. As his narration reveals, the French uncle is absolutely obsessed with Werner and carefully studies his every move and word. For example, if Werner farted, the Frenchman would probably reluctantly write an intensely intimate piece of stream-of-conscious poetry about it and how it greatly impacted his day. As for the Frenchman’s niece, it is revealed by the end of the film that she is an ice queen of sorts that has been hiding painfully strong romantic longing for Werner, who seems to completely reciprocate her feelings as revealed by his constant smiling at her and somewhat curious vocal denouncing of German women.  In fact, when the French girl finally gets the gall to look at Werner, he is so deeply affected that he is literally blinded by the light of her penetrating gaze.  As the Frenchman narrates in regard to Werner, “Each day, the same survey of the room, the same pleasure. His eyes rested on my niece’s face in profile, as always, stern and impassive, and when he finally looked away, I was certain I saw a kind of smiling approval.” Undoubtedly, Werner and the niece’s aborted-before-it-ever-started love affair is symbolic of the German lieutenant’s romantic pan-European utopian dream about a grand cultural marriage between France and Germany where the literary prowess of the former is combined with the musical domination of the latter. 

 Not unlike many German aristocrats of his time, Werner is a Francophile and wastes no time in expressing to his silently hostile two-person audience his great appreciation for French kultur, especially French literature, or as he enthusiastically states, “Balzac, Baudelaire, Corneille, Descartes, Fenelon, Gautier, Hugo. What a list. And I’m only up to H. Not to mention Molière, Racine, Rabelais, Pascal, Stendhal, Voltaire, Montaigne, nor any of the others. For England, Shakespeare immediately comes to mind. For Italy, Dante. For Spain, Cervantes. For us, Goethe. But to find others, you have to think about it. But when they say ‘France,’ who comes to mind? Immediately leap forth Molière, Racine, Hugo, Voltaire, Rabelais and who else? Names jostle like a crowd outside a theater, each trying to enter first. But for music, it’s my country. Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Wagner, Mozart. Which name comes to mind first? And we warred against each other. But it will be the last war. We’ll never fight again. We will marry. Yes, we will. It will be the most beautiful marriage in the world.” Rather romantic statements like these make Werner the perfect candidate for tragedy when he comes to the quite brutal realization that his National Socialist comrades are not exactly frog-friendly and instead see the French as an old perennial enemy that needs to be completely crushed with extreme prejudice. While Werner has many great things to say about France and its culture, he is somewhat less charitable when it comes to the nation's politicians, or as he explains in regard to his somewhat love-hate relationship with the country as a whole, “I’ve always loved France. I was a child during the last war, so my opinion then doesn’t count. Since then, I’ve always loved it, but from afar, like a faraway princess…because of my father. Because of my father. He was a great patriot bitterly wounded by our defeat…and yet, he loved France. He loved Briand. He believed in the Weimar Republic and Briand. He was enthusiastic. He said, ‘He’ll unite us like man and wife.’ He thought the sun would finally rise on Europe, but Briand was defeated and my father realized France was still led by your cruel bourgeoisie, industrialists like de Wendel, Henry Bordeaux, your old Marshal Foch. He told me, ‘You must never enter France except in boots and a helmet.’ He was on his deathbed, so I swore. When war broke out, I’d visited all of Europe except France.” 

As if the Frenchman and his niece are his therapists, Werner acts completely vulnerable around the two and confesses to them not only his hopes and dreams, but also his internal pains and greatest fears, as if he feels totally obligated to offend no one and unequivocally prove that he is indeed also human like the people of the nation his nation conquered. In what is arguably one of the film’s various allusions to Melville’s comrade Cocteau, Werner even compares himself to titular ‘hero’ of La Belle et la Bête in what seems to be his cryptic way of flirting with the niece. While Werner is initially quite optimistic about the NS occupation of France and how it might lead to a Franco-German empire featuring an aristocracy of Übermensch artists, that all changes when he hooks up with some Nazi comrades. Indeed, as depicted in a flashback scene, Werner is not only told about Treblinka and gas chambers by a comrade in the SS, but the same chap also stoically states in regard to the French question, “We have the opportunity to destroy France and we will do so. Not only its might, but also its spirit. This is where the biggest danger lies. That’s our mission. Don’t kid yourself, my friend. We will be smiling. We will proceed with mercy. But we will turn France into a cowering dog.” In fact, Werner is even mocked for his love of a France, as another Nazi states to him, “You’re blinded by your love of France. That’s dangerous. But we will cure Europe of this pestilence. We will utterly destroy this poison.”

Of course, considering the Nazi's words and how Werner is momentarily blinded by her mere gaze, the niece can see symbolic of France (notably, as if influenced by Melville's film, Louis Malle would include a Jewess heroine that is literally named ‘France’ in his masterful WWII flick Lacombe, Lucien (1974)).  Needless to say, Werner cannot help but report his dejecting experiences to the Frenchman and his niece and he even practically suffers a nervous breakdown while shrieking with a sort of foreboding doom and gloom, “There is no hope! No hope! No hope! Nothing, no OHS. Not only your modern writers, your Péguys, your Prousts, your Bergsons, but all the others! All these, all of them! They’ll extinguish the flame completely. Europe will no longer be illuminated by their light. ‘Nevemore.’” Arguably, the biggest disappointment for Werner comes in the form of a longtime friend that he describes as “sensitive and romantic” but who eventually became infected with a sort of almost demonic Nazi fanaticism, or as he explains,“He was the most rabid, veering from rage to laughter. He glared at me and said, ‘The serpent must be drained of its venom.’ He said, ‘Do you realize what you’re doing?’ I looked at him – looked deep into his blue eyes – and he was sincere. That’s the horror of it! They’ll do whatever they say – methodically and relentlessly. I know the determination of those devils.”  At this point, Werner has became anti-German, or, more accurately, anti-Nazi, though he is more intent on self-destruction than rebellion.

After giving an eerie defeatist monologue about his great disillusionment with the Third Reich, Werner reveals to the Frenchman and his niece that he plans to leave the next day as he is decided to go on a suicide mission “To Hell” as he has requested to go fight on the Eastern Front where a miserably cold death is highly probable. After saying his final farewell, the niece finally breaks her silence and softly says goodbye while on the verge of tears, or as her uncle narrates, “To hear it, you’d have to be listening for it, but I heard it and so did Werner von Ebrennac.” As for the Frenchman, he is disappointed that Werner has not decided to pull a Claus von Stauffenberg like so many of his aristocratic background and rebel against the Nazi machine. The next day just before leaving the Frenchman’s house for good, Werner finds an open book with the following words, “It is a noble thing for a soldier to disobey a criminal order.” After reading the text, Werner looks up and discovers that the Frenchman is staring right at him in what is ultimately a particularly passive-aggressive attempt by the old man to goad the German lieutenant into rebelling. After Werner leaves for good, the Frenchman states while he and his niece eat soup, “It seemed very cold outside,”  as if to foretell the German lieutenant's grim future.  Of course, if Le Silence De La Mer was a Hollywood movie, it would conclude with Werner fucking the French niece and successful leading a German Resistance movement against the Third Reich, hence the intricately anti-Hollywood essence of the film.

For those that have studied German literature and history, it is not hard to see why it is believed by various film scholars like Ginette Vincendeau that the character of Werner von Ebrennac was at least partly based on Ernst Jünger, who became totally disillusioned with the Third Reich.  In fact, as a result of the Third Reich, Jünger even lost his elder son Ernst Jr., who was killed near Carrara, Italy in battle after being forced to join a penal unit due to anti-Nazi sentiments he made (notably, his younger son Alexander, a physician, committed suicide in 1993). Interestingly, as if embarrassed by his previous nationalistic tendencies, Jünger, who lived in self-imposed exile after WWII, heavily revised his most internationally famous book, Storm of Steel (1920) aka In Stahlgewittern—a memoir of his WWI experiences—and excised the more nationalistic elements from it. While Jünger arguably wrote some of his greatest novels after World War II, some critics, like the magical Baron Julius Evola, argued that he suffered from a sort of spiritual and aesthetic deterioration as a result of his somewhat tragic experiences during WWII. Indeed, as Evola, who was such a big fan of Jünger’s early work that he translated it into Italian, explained in his ‘intellectual autobiography’ The Path of Cinnabar (1963), “On the other hand, over the years Jünger has come to distance himself from the book I had introduced to the Italian public, and has abandoned his original views. While the most recent writing of Jünger has significantly contributed towards his fame as a writer and man of letters, on a spiritual level it reflects a lapse: both for its merely literary and aesthetic nature, and because it betrays the influence of ideas of a different, and often antithetical sort from the ones that inform The Worker and other early books of Jünger. It is as if the spiritual drive that Jünger had derived from his life in the trenches of the First World War, and applied on an intellectual level, had gradually run out. Besides, not only did Jünger play no significant role during the Second World War, but it also appears that, when in service in occupied France, he got in touch with those members of the Wehrmacht who in 1944 attempted to murder Hitler. Jünger, therefore, should be numbered among those individuals who first subscribed to 'Conservative Revolutionary' ideas but were later, in a way, traumatized by the National Socialist experience, to the point of being led to embrace the kind of sluggishly liberal and humanistic ideas which conformed to the dominant attempt 'to democratically reform' their country; individuals who have proven incapable of distinguishing the positive side of past ideas from the negative, and of remaining true to the former. Alas, this incapability to discern is, in a way, typical of contemporary Germany (the land of the ‘economic miracle’).” While it would have been artistically unfortunate if he had chosen such a fate, it would have arguably been more fitting in regard to his legacy if Jünger had pulled a Werner von Ebrennac and tested his fate on the Eastern Front instead of staying in Paris and hanging out with Cocteau and Picasso, but I digress. 

While none of Jünger’s novels have really been cinematically adapted unless you count Cozarinsky’s experimental doc One Man’s War or the rather goofy and hardly faithful short Die Ungenierten kommen - What happened to Magdalena Jung? (1983) directed by the late great iconoclastic auteur Christoph Schlingensief, Melville’s film is vaguely Jüngerian and, more importantly, it does act as a fine antidote to the platitude-driven antiwar sentiments of the German writer’s frog-blooded nemesis Erich Maria Remarque’s obscenely overrated novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)—a sort of anti-Storm of Steel that was used by Americans as anti-German propaganda—and especially the pre-Code 1930 film of the same name directed by kraut-hating heeb Lewis Milestone. Unlike the idiotically emotionally manipulative Milestone movie, Melville’s film manages to be antiwar without being insipidly pacifistic and experimentally nonlinear and relatively unpredictable instead of banally linear and painfully predictable. Indeed, despite his love of American culture and Hollywood, Le Silence De La Mer is as anti-Hollywood as films come, at least aesthetically. 

Despite his later reputation for neo-noir films with very heavy American influences, Melville’s debut feature had a crucial aesthetic influence on one of the greatest anti-Hollywood auteur filmmakers of all-time. Indeed, the French master auteur Robert Bresson, who previously cast Melville in a small acting role in his second feature Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945), would not fully develop his signature auteur style until his third feature Journal d'un curé de campagne (1945) aka Diary of a Country Priest, which clearly borrowed much from Le Silence De La Mer. In fact, Melville himself was convinced of this and even once complained, “I sometimes read […] ‘Melville is being Bressonian.’ I’m sorry, but it’s Bresson who has always been Melvillian […] DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST is LE SILENCE DE LA MER! Some of the shots are identical […] As a matter of fact, Bresson did not deny it when André Bazin put it to him one day, that he had been influenced by me. All this has been forgotten since.” In fact, Bazin wrote in his classic text What is Cinema?: Volume I (1967), “The technique of Bresson’s direction cannot adequately be judged except at the level of his aesthetic intention. Inadequately as we may have so far described the latter, it may yet be that the highly astonishing paradox of the film is now a little more evident. Actually the distinction of having set text over against image for the first time goes to Melville in his SILENCE DE LA MER. It is noteworthy that his reason was likewise a desire for fidelity. However, the structure of Vercors’ book was of itself unusual. In his JOURNAL Bresson has done more than justify Melville’s experiment and shown how well warranted it was. He has carried it to its final conclusions.”

Indeed, Le Silence De La Mer is one of the rare examples in European art history where a Jew had a crucial revolutionary influence on art as opposed to simply parroting and aping the style of Aryan European artists, which becomes all the more strange when one considers Melville’s fetish for American trash.  Indeed, Melville would later become more of what Ludwig Wittgenstein describe as a ‘reproductive artist,’ but his debut feature demonstrates a sort of Aryan artistic pioneering comparable to Carl Theodor Dreyer.  In fact, France is rare in cinema history in that it produced a number of Jewish and part-Jewish cinematic pioneers, including Jean Epstein and Abel Gance (like Truffaut, the latter was the bastard son of a Jewish professional).  Of course, as Wittgenstein also once wrote in regard to the unoriginal nature of Judaic artists, “It might be said (rightly or wrongly) that the Jewish mind does not have the power to produce even the tiniest flower or blade of grass; its way is rather to make a drawing of the flower or blade of grass that has grown in the soil of another's mind and to put it into a comprehensive picture. We aren't pointing to a fault when we say this and everything is all right as long as what is being done is quite clear. It is only when the nature of a Jewish work is confused with that of a non-Jewish work that there is any danger, especially when the author of the Jewish work falls into the confusion himself, as he so easily may [...] It is typical for a Jewish mind to understand someone else's work better than he understands it himself.”  Melville would certainly demonstrate he understood American film noir better than the people that actually directed the original films, but with Le Silence De La Mer he at least managed to draw his own ‘blade of grass.’

Despite being based on a famous anti-Nazi French resistance novel and directed by a Jew, Le Silence De La Mer can surely be interpreted as a piece of revolutionary pan-European cinema that promotes the uniting of Europa in a real cultural sense and not in the current globalist neo-bolshevik/Sorosian anti-European neo-liberal EU sense. Indeed, while watching the film and listening to Werner von Ebrennac’s romantic monologue about a great marriage between Germany and France, I could not help but reminded of the Napoleon quote, “I wanted to prepare the fusion of the great interests of Europe, as I had accomplished that of the parties. I concerned myself little with the passing rancor of the peoples, for I was sure that the results would lead them irresistibly back to me. Europe would in this way have become in truth a united nation, and every one would have been, not matter where he traveled, in the same Fatherland. This fusion will accomplish itself sooner or later through the pressure of the facts; the impulse has been given which, since my downfall and the disappearance of my system, will make the restoration of balance possible in Europe only by merger and fusion of the great nations.”

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest mistakes of Third Reich was its shallow Nordic/Teutonic supremacism and discrimination of other Europeans, even if France arguably got what was coming to it as it had a long history of waging war against Deutschland and ultimately became a decadent hellhole that persecuted Germany after WWI. Although a fan of Uncle Adolf and his Dozen Year Reich, Euro-American revolutionary Francis Parker Yockey—a man that, according to his FBI records, had an astonishing genius IQ of 170—would have certainly agreed with many of Werner von Ebrennac’s sentiments as demonstrated by his neo-Spengerlian magnum opus Imperium (1948) where he argued, “Thus it is, that both for material and spiritual reasons, nationalism of the 19th century type is dead. It is dead spiritually for the reason that Europe has reach in its Cultural development the stage of Imperium. Even if there were no such frightful outer threat as exists, this would still govern. But, in addition, the basis of the power of every one of the old Western nations has been destroyed. No single one has sufficient resources, spiritual or material, to engage in world-politics independently. Their only choice is to be vassals collectively, or to form a unity of Culture-State-Nation-Race-People. This creates automatically an economic-political-military unit.” Of course the Europa of today is a dystopian anti-Imperium of ethnocide and racial suicide that is ruled by culture-distorters, traitors, and perverts that flood the continent with hostile (and oftentimes rape-happy) low IQ racial aliens from the Global South, and promote every form of sexual degeneracy and social dysfunction while outlawing certain healthy nationalistic tendencies.  Surely, even the commie and anarchistic members of the French Resistance would not approve of the singularly degenerate frogland of today.

 Despite what one might may think of the Third Reich, it is hard to deny that Yockey was right when he argued that, “From 1940 to 1944, nearly all Europe was united, and the eventuation of the Second World War showed to the entire world the unity of Europe, for all Europe was defeated, despite the tricky attempt to make some parts of the West feel ‘victorious.’” Indeed, while the UK and France might have played their roles in successfully destroying Germany during WWII, it cost them everything as they lost their empires and their spirits and are today only a pathetic necrotizing shell of what they once were and are being fed on be virtually every type of brown maggot from around the world. Likewise, while Charles de Gaulle might have defeated his Nazi foes and went on to rule France for over two decades, by the late-1960s even he was seen as a sort of Nazi by the degenerate Americanized younger generation—the dreaded frog boomers—who would go on to transform the nation into the crime-and-terrorism-ridden multiculti nightmare that it is today. Despite Melville’s film’s message of Nazi cultural colonization, it is hard to imagine that France would be in a more culturally retarded, artistically autistic, spiritual sick, infertile, decrepit, and seemingly pre-apocalyptic state as it is today had Germany won the war, but of course most Frenchmen (and Europeans in general) lack the intellectual honesty, integrity, and courage to even consider such an idea, especially since the Third Reich has become a virtual scapegoat for the rest of Europe.  It is also probably no coincidence that the most powerful and successful pornographer in France today is a kosher chap named Greg Lansky that is infamous for his ‘Blacked’ videos where negroes defile white girls.  Somehow, it seems quite symbolic that, in a country where virtually all rapes are committed by Arabs and Africans, a Hebraic pornographer would get rich off my making grotesque interracial fuck flicks.

Notably, Vercors’ source novel has been adapted at least two other times, including a 1980 BBC English-language TV version and a French-Belgian TV movie version entitled Le Silence de la Mer (2004) directed by Pierre Boutron, with the latter rather cheaply focusing on the doomed romantic subplot between the German lieutenant and French niece. To understand the grand cinematic majesty of Melville’s adaptation one just need to compare it to the 2004 version, which has about as much aesthetic value as a MiniDV home-movie of WWII historical reenactors. Although he would admit in interviews that he would have directed a totally different type of film had he created it later in his career, Melville seems to have been proud of his first film as demonstrated by remarks like, “LE SILENCE DE LA MER is the work of professional, even if well-known professionals of the time—who have completely disappeared since—described the film as ‘amateur stuff.’”  Aside from considering it nearly immaculate in terms of its construction, I also regard Le Silence de la Mer as Melville's greatest film.  Indeed, after recently watch Melville's other WWII/Resistance-themed films like Léon Morin, Priest (1961) and Army of Shadows (1969), I cannot help but feel that the auteur reached his peak in terms of political messages and aesthetic innovation with his very first flick.  Additionally, despite being the work of a French Jew that lost a brother in WWII, I cannot think of another film that features a more nuanced and sympathetic ‘Nazi soldier,’ but I guess that is what one should expect from a right-wing Israelite that once stated in an interview on television, “I have friends who were once SS.”  Of course, Sam Fuller, who also fought in WWII, also depicted Germans in a somewhat more sympathetic manner in The Big Red One (1980) than most Jewish filmmakers.

If there is any body part that is most memorably focused on in Le Silence de la Mer, it is unquestionably eyes, namely those of Adolf Hitler (in portrait form) and lead actress Nicole Stéphane. What I found especially interesting about this is the strikingly similarities between Uncle Adolf and the Hebrewess' eyes. While I am bored with conspiracy theories, I cannot help but be reminded that Stéphane was a Rothschild (her real name was Baroness Nicole de Rothschild) and some people believe that Hitler was a Rothschild bastard. In fact, the speculation about Hitler's dubious heritage was first brought forward in The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (1972), which is not exactly conspiracy trash as it is based on a Office of Strategic Services (pre-CIA) prepared by German-American psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer during World War II.  While I find Stéphane to be annoyingly unattractive, not least of all because her Sapphic sensibility is always apparent, she demonstrates a sort of understated sensitivity that I think lifelong cinephile Hitler could have appreciated; whether he is actually related to her or not.

Accordingly to Melville himself, Le Silence de la Mer was made completely independently without unions and he agreed to burn the print of the film if it was rejected by a single member of a jury of ex-Resistance fighters selected by source writer Vercors, who was initially against the adapting of the novel despite allowing the then-novice auteur to use his home as the main location for the film. Luckily, the jury apparently loved the film, though it would be two years before it was actually released (indeed, the auteur started production on the film on August 11, 1947 in a shoot that would last 27 days). Considering its source novel, auteur, and the year it was shot, one could certainly argue that Le Silence de la Mer is the French World War II film par excellence. I certainly cannot think of a superior French WWII flick and I say that as someone that appreciates classics like Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Malle's Lacombe, Lucien (1974). Notably, Nietzsche once wrote, “History belongs to the living man in three respects: it belongs to him so far as he is active and striving, so far as he preserves and admires, and so far as he suffers and is in need of liberation.” Undoubtedly, Nietzsche's words certainly correspond to Melville and his lifelong relation to WWII, with his films undoubtedly providing him a certain liberation from suffering (which he seemed to hide quite well). Going back to Nietzsche once more, I think the greatest complement I can pay Le Silence de la Mer is that it succeeds in the Nietzschean historical sense as it fulfills the advice of the Teutonic philsopher that, “If you want to strive for and promote the culture of a people, then strive for and promote this higher unity and work to annihilate modern pseudo-culture in favor of a true culture; dare to devote some thought to the problem of restoring the health of a people which has been impaired by history, to how it may recover its instincts and therewith its integrity.”

-Ty E