Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Culturist Movie Recommendation

All culturists with Netflix must see Border Incident. Netflix is required because this is a 1949 film. It stars Ricardo Montalban, has amazing cinematography and concerns a very important topic: illegal immigration. But beyond its particular topic, this film portrays a way of looking at the world that is essential for civilization and orderly lives. As such, Border Incident makes a great counter example to the Academy Award winning No Country for Old Men.

The old culturist adage, "Good fences make good neighbors" is illustrated in this film. The opening scenes include a voice over that explains how the United States and Mexico both benefit from the braceros program. That was a program whereby Mexicans were given permission to be in the country to work and then had to return home. Shots from the sky show us the fields that need tending. This is followed by a long shot which shows us eager Mexicans waiting for permission to enter as seen from our side of the border fence. The mutual need and ordered process provide a model of how Mexico and the United States have both benefited from each other's presence.

We lunge into the dark world of chaos and anarchy, however, when would be workers try to go around the law and cross into the United States illegally. When the unsavory purveyors of this illicit business kill some illegals, the Mexican government (represented by agent Ricardo Montalban's character) and the American government (represented by George Murphy's character) work together to inflitrate this underworld and destroy it. Thus, again, we see Mexican and American officials working together in cooperation, legally, for each others mutual benefit.

The cinematography in Border Incident depicts a thought world. It is shot in Film Noir black and white by the famous John Alton. The underworld is dark. The people in it are scum and act treacherously towards each other. They are constantly looking to stab each other in the back as they do not have the rule of the jungle, rather than the rule of law, guiding them. Law enforcement's world is portrayed in light. People do not need to hide their intentions or actions in this world. People acting within the law can cooperate. The willingness to be so clear about the contrast between how good people can be and how ugly ugliness can get makes Border Incident extremely gripping and meaningful. Alton's beautiful framing and lighting paralleling the moral themes makes Border Incident a masterpiece.

The oscar winning film, No Country for Old Men, and our current policies towards our border show ignorance of the thought world present in Border Incident. In No Country for Old Men criminals have no fear of appearing in daylight. They have infiltrated our common experience. That is why children riding bikes and old men can not live safely with the comfort and protection the rule of law provides. There are no "undocumented" in Border Incident. The undermining of the distinction between legal and illegal had not yet taken place. Those who would undermine such distinctions fail to realize, as the bad guys both these films portray so well, that the opposite of law is dark, dangerous and scary. Being clear about the value of law, like a good fence, is required for us to be good neighbors. Border Incident provides one of the clearest representations of these vital culturist truths.
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