Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Violence: Pinker and The White Ribbon

Over the weekend I had a chance to see The White Ribbon (it was nominated for a foreign language Oscar last year). It is absolutely wonderful! Shot in gorgeous black & white, the story is set in a German village a few years before the onset of World War I. On the surface, the movie is a crime thriller, but underneath it says a lot about violence, change, class structure, and human nature. Or may be it is about the randomness of the existence of evil. The movie is directed by Michael Haneke, who also made the riveting French film, Cache (released in many countries with the title, Hidden), in 2005, where he explored the psychology of violence and class politics in modern day France (in case you are interested, Cache is being remade by Martin Scorsese, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead). Here is the preview of The White Ribbon:

While we are on the subject of violence, here is a short (about 20 min) Ted talk by Steven Pinker: A brief history of violence. It just reaffirms my desire not to use a time machine to go into the past. This is a very good talk - and I happen to share his viewpoint, but I wish he had also addressed the increasing lethality of weapons, i.e. how a few people can now cause disproportionate harm (for example the use of a nuclear weapon), and that this curve is going in the opposite direction. But a fascinating talk. Do check it out.


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