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      Last week I wrote an article about the future of civilization, collapse centered around a graph from “Limits To Growth.” I spent a fair bit of time staring at this graph yesterday, and I want to return to it, because it says some very important things about what’s coming up over the next decades. The first thing to understand is that the future is, as Willia […]
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See This Movie

Its title is “The Duke.” It is a British film starring Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent, directed by Roger Michell in his final film.

It is a true story, involving the theft of a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by the artist Francisco Goya, from the National Gallery in London, in 1961. It is a rather amazing story, but the film is about more than that. For me, it evoked another time, in many ways.

You hear snatches of the songs “A Taste of Honey,” by the Tijuana Brass, and the forever haunting “Stranger on the Shore” by Acker Bilk. You see life in Newcastle sixty years ago, though the accents probably have not changed much. And you are taken from this world, with the daily stories of evil, corruption, and tyranny, to a time and place where there is a generosity of spirit even amidst the constraints of laws and office.

Perhaps it is viewed with movie-tinted nostalgia, but it feels right. It has humanity and decency in its leading characters, tinged with some sadness and regret, yet always with the hope of a happy ending. It is amusing and quirky, as one would expect from this kind of period piece, but it has a sweetness and a sentimentality, never overplayed or overindulged.

I am trying not to say too much about it, but to emphasize that I found myself wishing that there were more people like most of the ones portrayed in the movie. It actually brought me to tears, in a good way. If I thought hard, I might be able to remember older movies like this, but I have not seen too many lately. And clearly the people involved in the writing, directing, and acting of it, had a regard for the story they were telling, and the real people involved.

There is no “message,” except the decency of most people; and then a line spoken by the main character, about how “there is no me, without you,” that one brick by itself does nothing, but combined with other bricks, can build something.

If I had seen this film twenty years ago, I would have appreciated it. But now, with every headline telling about plots to overthrow democracy, pit people against each other, and take away human rights, while savagely demeaning and hating others who are trying to stop it from happening, this is some kind of anodyne, to imagine people who can sympathize with someone trying to help others, even if not in an ideally socially sanctioned way.

If you have the opportunity,, see “The Duke,” and hopefully you will like it as much as I did. And it might help to make one feel better, if for nothing else than that some people, including the greatest actress of her generation, wanted to make it.