We take a break today from the usual political chatter for a review of a new film.
There is a scene at the beginning of Sean Corbett's latest film, Artifacts of Idealism, where, amidst the 2011 Occupy Protests in Montreal, an old copper statue stands on a high plinth. It looks to be of a young Queen Victoria. Her face is covered by a Guy Fawkes mask. Hung from her left arm is a large sign reading in both English and French, "Moving Forward" along with the huge lettering of "ZEITGEIST." On her right arm is a flag that is impossible make out. Further down the plinth there is a tapped on sign reading "un peuple uni jamais ne sera vaincu." It translates as a united people will never be defeated.
According to Mr. Corbett it was a coincidence that he was shooting a film at the same time barbarians had decided to seize control of public parks across the continent. It was one of those of real life touches that can make fiction sometimes pale by comparison. The real Queen Victoria, even in her youth, was a homely girl. When statues of her were erected across the empire they showed her likeness certainly, but it was a likeness that was improved by the sculptor. The Victorians, from the sovereign on down, believed that art was intended to inspire and uplift. Not to show men and women as they were but as they might be.
It's about as good an establishing shot as one could find for this movie and its theme.
What follows over the next hour and a bit is an unusual amalgam. An eccentric retiree obsessed by a copy of a Rosetti and the model used by a local artist. He hires a private detective agency to find the model and establish if she is real. A young PI is assigned to the case, every inch the awkward and earnest young man, who is able to track down the girl working at a local bakery. The retiree and young man bond over the girl and their ideas of beauty. For both of them she becomes an ideal in a world that seems increasingly vulgar. In the background are a pick-up artist friend and the trite politicking of the modern Left.
One of the recurring themes of this blog is an attempt to find the permanent in the fluid. The ideal that lasts amidst the ephemera of modern life. Thus the name The Gods of the Copybook Headings. While the blog's focus is overwhelming on the back and forth of daily politics, I try to link the passing parade with wider principles and historical context. My educational background is politics, history and economics. GCH reflects that. Art, however, is not absent. Through the Scenes From the Imperial Capital series of posts I try to present some of the more agreeable and interesting aspects of Toronto architecture. The nightly film clips try to take the reader out of the hum-drum of daily life. While not an explicitly political film, Artifacts of Idealism projects in its own way the permanent in the fluid. The beauty and good in the ugliness that often surrounds us.
Most of this blog's readers are political junkies. A point I don't make often enough is that art is more important than politics. Art defines what man should be. Is man confident, intelligent and capable of dealing with the world? Or is he a craven monster driven by crude instinct? That latter image of man is what allows for the politics of statism and collectivism. It is what makes it seem right and proper that young people should live in public parks, refuse gainful employment and deface historic monuments. If you think man is nothing more than an animal grunting after sex and food, soon enough you'll start behaving like an animal grunting after sex and food.
The film's creator, Sean Corbett, does not believe in intellectual property rights. For the record I do and emphatically so. That's a separate discussion beyond the purview of this post. His attitude leads to two things. The first is that this film is an indie production made with amateur actors on a shoe string budget. That he has produced a film far more interesting and entertaining than the $100 million McMovies that control the multiplexes of the nation is a testament to Corbett's skill, and another point of damnation for modern Hollywood. The second consequence of Mr Corbett's aversion to copyright is that you can pay what you wish for the film.
For the record I paid $20.00.
The film's website is here. The IMDB entry is here. You can purchase and download here. The film appears much like any film you'd buy off iTunes. I ran it through my Apple TV without difficultly. DVD copies are also available.
A very strong recommendation.