Sep 18, 2011
Out of all the fascist leaders from the first half of the twentieth century, Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats, the Anglo-Irish founder of the British Union of Fascist (BUF), was possibly the only one who is not remembered today as the definitive and gross epitome of reprehensible evil. One of the reasons for this is that, unlike Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Mosley failed to assume the leadership of his nation, thus, he was never able to prove to his extremity and brutality as a dictator nor contract a significant amount of "blood on his hands." Also, unlike Hitler and Mussolini, Mosley came from a well bred aristocratic stock (he was the fourth cousin of Queen Elizabeth) and was not a self-made man but a natural born gentleman whose social status was confirmed long before his birth. Unlike most of his aristocratic elders, Mosley was a visionary who foresaw a changing England that was threatened by the diabolical twin-head of materialistic international finance and culture-destroying communism. In the 1998 television mini-series Mosley, the viewer is introduced to the political career Oswald Mosley; beginning at his bachelor years as a young and ambitious army officer during World War I and concluding during the middle of World War II when his potential as the Duce of Great Britain began to sway in a most humiliating and career-destroying manner. It should be no surprise to readers of Soiled Sinema that I have seen my fair share of fascist related flicks and I must admit that Mosley is easily the most sympathetic post-World War II portrayal of a fascist figure that I have had the proletarian pleasure of viewing. Although most forms of nationalism began to be looked on in a negative manner in Europe and Great Britain due to the triumph of communism in the East and democracy in the West and Uncle Adolf’s infamous legacy, the Brits still manage to produce exceptional public television and the Channel Four Television produced mini-series Mosley is certainly no exception.
Mosley is based primarily on the books Rules of the Game and Beyond the Pale; both of which were written by Oswald Mosley’s son Nicholas Mosley, thus one can speculate that Mosley has a certain authenticity that most fascist biopics tend to lack. Ironically (or not so ironically), Nicholas Mosley also wrote the book (which was adapted into a movie that same year) The Assassination of Trotsky (1972); a book about Stalin’s assassination of his former commie comrade Leon Trotsky; the genocidal judeo-bolshevik revolutionary who spent his remaining days exiled in Mexico after losing the power struggle for leadership in the Soviet Union with the man of steel. Although I can’t say I have read Nicholas Mosley’s works on his infamous fascist father, it seems that Mosley screenwriters Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran and director John Alexander utilized his works to the fullest degree as the mini-series presents the blackshirt Führer as a multifaceted man of exquisite charm who enjoyed subversive politics as much as he had a weakness for beautiful birds and expensive bourbon. One also must commend British TV actor Jonathan Cake as he seems to be the next best thing to the real man in his exuberant and totally believable portrayal of Sir Oswald. As portrayed in Mosley, Oswald Mosley was a man that truly loved his nation and thus saw Benito Mussolini’s successful revamping of Italy as an imperative guideline for restructuring England. I was also surprised to see that the mini-series accurately presented Oswald Mosley and the blackshirts as being more often the victims of crimes and violence than the actual perpetrators. Despite his somewhat moderate take on fascism (at least, at that time), the real-life Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists often found themselves verbally heckled and physically assaulted by various communist and Jewish groups (among others). In fact, during the so-called “Battle of Cable Street” (which took place in Cable Street in the East End of London), Mosley and the BUF were so overwhelmed by hostile antagonists (the area itself being heavily concentrated with Jews) that Sir Philip Game, the local Police Commissioner, aborted the blackshirt march. Naturally, real-life scenarios like these make for some of the most interesting scenes of Mosley.
What sets Mosley apart from most films that portray fascist leaders and movements is that it gives fascism a human face. Whether one is a fanatical fascist of the unrelenting murderous kind or a tranny s/he bitch of the third kind, it is likely that that viewer cannot help but be somewhat empathetic towards to plight of the Oswald Mosley presented in the mini-series. I cannot say the same for the deplorable Italian mini-series Benito (1993) starring Antonio Banderas; an excruciatingly long and exceedingly banal portrayal of young Benito Mussolini and his love affair with his elder Jewish communist mentor Angelica Balabanoff. The Canadian mini-series Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003) is nothing short of being a work of tabloidesque pseudo-history with an aesthetic that pales in comparison to the most mediocre of Nazi-exploitation films. On May 23, 1940, Oswald Mosley and his wife Diana (of the eccentric aristocratic Mitford clan), who advocated a peace campaign with Germany, were imprisoned at a house on the grounds of Holloway prison. Personally, I cannot help but wonder what would of happened during World War II (had the war even started in the first place) had Mosley been the leader of the now defunct British empire. If one thing is for sure, it is that tens of millions of lives would have been spared and Europa would still be the monolithic entity of global supremacy that it once was. Of course, Mosley never had the opportunity to lead and execute his plans (and enemies), thus one can only speculate what “could have been.” In the excellent alternative history work It Happened Here (1966); a cinéma vérité-style film that was partly shot on leftover film stock from Dr. Strangelove (1964) that was donated by Stanley Kubrick, the viewer is offered a view of German-occupied Britain where it is suggested the Oswald Mosley and the BUF have assumed power. Mosley and the blackshirt fasci aesthetic would also inspire some of the greatest scenes featured in Alan Parker's Pink Floyd—The Wall (1982). Although Mosley concludes in 1940, Oswald Mosley would go onto to found the Union Movement; a quasi-fascist political party that advocated the unification of Europe into a one-state imperium that covered all of Europe. Mosley’s expounding of a united Europa is further evidence that he was a true visionary that was savvy at predicting future cultural and political trends as Europe eventually would become united via the EU, albeit being of a dystopian anti-European/pro-globalist nature. American neo-Spenglerian genius (who according to FBI records had an IQ of 170) and writer of the neofascist masterpiece Imperium (a work that shares many fundamental similarities with Mosley’s plan for a united Europe) joined Mosley’s Union Movement but left the group after the ex-blackshirt leader punched the poor yank in the face. In the present, most “neofascists” and third position proponents also share the Mosleyite/Yockeyite dream of truly uniting Europe through cultural and political rejuvenation, thus Oswald Mosley tends to be lauded by those that share these political beliefs.
I would be lying if I did not admit that Mosley is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) mini-series. Aside from a couple cheesy scenes of melodrama, Mosley makes for a notable historical work that that can be compared to few others. Mosley is essentially the British equivalent of the German film Downfall aka Der Untergang (2004) directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel as both epic works contextualize the fascist historical legacy of their respective nations of origin in a fairly objective manner that is all but unheard of in Hollywood. On top of offering a somewhat impartial history of Oswald Mosley and the BUF, Mosley is a beguiling work that seems much shorter than its 197 minute running time. In fact, my biggest complaint with the mini-series is that it is not long enough, thus I recommend that viewers steer scopophilically clear of the 99 minute feature-length cut of the film as you eyes will be indubitably hungry for more. With the recent 2011 England riots (and the many that have occurred throughout the decades after World War II), I can only assume that many modern Brits are asking themselves whether or not Oswald Mosley was right as current socio-political trends certainly point in his favor. Mosley once state, “There are periods in history when change is necessary, and other periods when it is better to keep everything for the time as it is. The art of life is to be in the rhythm of your age.” I think it is obvious to most people who live in the "postmodern" occidental world that critical change of a revolutionary stature is needed and it is not of the wretched sort that was so dishonestly promised by a double-bastard American commander-in-chief who is nothing more than a glorified pimp who has developed a refined form of huckstering. I wouldn’t doubt that if in three or four decades from now, an Obama mini-series will be created that is much more critical of its subject than Mosley. After all, who can hate a fascist leader that was gentleman enough to share his rationed fags with a well dressed wog.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:47 PM
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