Mark Felt: extended metaphor

Mark Felt poster

Peter Landesman’s film Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017) annoyed the hell out of me.  So much that I felt compelled to isolate the elements that motivated my displeasure.  And whether these were of my own confection.  Or whether they lay in the structure and content of the film.  After being annoyed long enough, I concluded the film is likely to become more significant as time passes.  With hindsight.  With the Trump administration in the rear-view.

My mistake, at first instance, had been to expect a story about Watergate.  Or Nixon’s FBI.  Or a G-Man.

That’s what Landesman’s script led me to believe.  On the surface.  Because I fell into the trap of an idiotic literalism in my interpretation.  A literalism of the kind I despise in the last two generations.

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Kingdom of Heaven (2005): How a culture of ignorance destroys meaning


Following on from the success of the ‘sword and sandal’ epic Gladiator, Ridley Scott has delivered another impressive foray into historical spectacle with Kingdom of Heaven. Offering authentic scenery and sets, highly atmospheric, evocative photography by John Mathieson, and the large-scale spectacle of Jerusalem and warfare in the age of the crusades, it lives up to expectations of a visually powerful foray into the holy land of the Middle Ages.

Scriptwriter William Monahan has taken elements of authentic characters and events to present a story of an individual’s pilgrimage to seek redemption in a world scarred by the hypocrisies of religious fanatics and mercenaries gouging out their fortunes through rapine and pillage. Our protagonist might not have gained quite the redemption he sought, but he acquired instead wisdom, integrity and honour as part of his epic quest.

This review is a bifurcated foray, looking first directly at the film, in what might appear to be an overly laboured review, and then expanding on the topic of the ‘rich meaning’ that is suggested here to be the cause and justification for deeper examination than might be expected for a film of its kind. The aim is to explain a little bit about how a multi-layered, or richer than superficial meaning might be both constructed and decoded.

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