Snowpiercer: Revolution in Microcosm

At the time of this writing, the Palestinian people in the open-air prison of Gaza are under brutal assault from their Israeli occupiers. Thousands of desperately impoverished innocent civilians are being deliberately targeted and killed, even as they seek shelter in designated United Nations schools and hospitals, and hundreds of thousands have been wounded or displaced from their homes by the actions of the well-funded and heavily armed Israeli state. Israel has sealed off Gaza, bombed its power plant, and made it virtually impossible for Gazans to get clean water and food, and any attempt by the people of Gaza to resist this brutal oppression is answered with even harsher military action on a totally disproportionate and inhumane scale.

The conflict in Gaza is a real-life example of the horror of capitalist-imperialism, infused with religion, and it illustrates the dire need for a revolution to rid the world of this genocidal system; a system which murders and exploits the poorest and weakest people with impunity, and then blames those victims for their own oppression. It’s time for this horrific injustice to come to an end, not only in Israel, but everywhere.snowpiercer-train4

Snowpiercer, a recent film by South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, takes place in a fictional situation that reflects the truth of what is happening in Gaza. Set in the not-too-distant future, Snowpiercer, based on the graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette, takes place following an attempt by mankind to save the world from climate change by spraying a chemical designed to cool the planet. But the plan has disastrous effects, causing a global ice age which kills almost all of humanity. Mankind’s last survivors board a train owned by a man named Wilford, who has constructed a continuous track which spans the entire globe. The train has to keep moving, taking a year to complete each circuit, to produce energy enough to sustain the lives of the survivor’s on board.

The train is divided into strictly enforced class zones. The poorest people, referred to as “freeloaders”, are kept locked away in the tail section, and forced to live in a dark, dirty, over-crowded environment, with only “protein bars” to eat, the ingredients of which are a mystery.

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The upper classes are allowed to live in luxurious cars in the front section of the train, where there is plenty of space and natural light, as well as quality food and a classroom for the children. The front has a spa car, a garden car, a dance club car, and even an aquarium. And, most importantly, the front section employs a large security force to maintain control over the passengers in the tail. Order is imposed with a brutal disciplinary system.

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While there is obviously a certain element of fantasy involved, and a certain suspension of disbelief required to buy into the scenario of the last humans trying to survive on a train during an ice age, what’s important to keep in mind is that Snowpiercer is clearly meant to be a metaphor. “The train is the world,” the film makes clear; a microcosm of civilization under the system of capitalist-imperialism. Those who could afford it were granted access to the front section, and those who couldn’t were forced to the back, where they were then oppressed and exploited.

There is no doubt that Snowpiercer is a highly entertaining film. It’s well paced, exciting, and an ensemble cast of major actors provide a certain gravitas to the material. Three Academy award winners, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, and Tilda Swinton, have supporting roles on a cast which also includes Hollywood stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, and John Hurt. Song Kang Ho and Ko Asung also turn in strong performances, both of whom were in Bong’s 2006 Korean film The Host. Snowpiercer also has a definite visual style that is both aesthetically pleasing and keeps the audience engaged.

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But while Snowpiercer is technically sound and entertaining on a surface level, what’s really important about this film is the way it depicts a genuine revolution of the people to overthrow an unjust class system. No fictional film could ever be a replacement for all the study required to fully understand this issue on a scientific level, but that being said, Snowpiercer’s understanding of the terms involved in people’s revolution is at an extremely high level, and the film illuminates several very important points.

Snowpiercer accurately depicts the way the ruling class systematically oppresses and exploits the lower classes for its own benefit. The poor people in the back of the train aren’t only prisoners, their labor is often exploited for the benefit of people in the front, as well as for performing functions vital to the train’s continued operation. Even children are not spared this, and one man is forced to spend years in a single room making the protein bars for the rest of the passengers in the tail. Without this forced labor, the train would not be able to operate, and the people in the front section would not be able to enjoy their lives in comfort and luxury.

The film also shows how the ruling class perpetuates the false idea that the class hierarchy is somehow the “natural order” of things, and that the passengers’ positions on the train were “preordained.” In real life, the elite also use this line to justify their exploitation of the masses, and to make people think that the only way to improve their circumstances is to play by the rules they set up. The elite “earned” their place at the top, they say, and those at the bottom of society “deserve” to live in poverty. This is of course completely false, but it’s an ideology that they infect society with in order to keep things running in a way that maintains their way of life.

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Snowpiercer also gets many specific details of people’s revolution correct. First, there must be clear leadership to organize and prepare the masses for revolution. This is a point that is currently very controversial among those on the radical left, as there are many who believe revolution must be “leaderless.” But a people’s uprising without leadership is doomed to failure, and those who argue for a leaderless revolution are in essence ensuring that the current order will never be overthrown. The people in the tail section are reluctantly led by Curtis (Evans). He doesn’t want to lead, he’d rather Gilliam (Hurt) have that responsibility, but he is the unanimous choice of the people to lead them.

Part of why leadership is so important to a revolution’s success is so it can be determined when conditions are right for the uprising to begin. It has to be carefully planned and coordinated, and therefore can’t be done haphazardly. Throughout the opening minutes of the film people ask Curtis, “Is it time?” “Not yet. Soon,” he always replies. Curtis is forming a plan of action, gathering resources, organizing the people, and waiting for the right moment to make the big move. Even when a great injustice is being done to one of the tail section passengers as a public form of punishment, Curtis still makes sure the uprising doesn’t begin prematurely. “Are we just going to sit here and let this happen?” Edgar asks Curtis. While it’s difficult and painful to stand by and watch the unjust punishment be done, Curtis knows it’s not the right moment, and he keeps the larger goal of taking control of the engine in mind.

And Curtis knows that when the time is right, you can’t hesitate. When the moment comes, you’ve got to go for it all the way with steadfast commitment, even at the risk of your own life and the lives of those you’re fighting with. The scene in Snowpiercer when the uprising begins is brilliantly executed on screen, as everyone in the tail section works together to fight past the guards and jam the doors open, including women. Snowpiercer shows women fighting right alongside men as equals. Octavia Spencer might not be a typical action star, but her performance as a warrior is inspiring and illuminating. This is among the many things the film gets right, along with the general resourcefulness required of the masses required to succeed.

Because, of course, no matter how well your revolution is planned, things will go wrong, and unforeseen obstacles will present themselves, especially as the ruling order becomes more desperate to put down the revolt, further underscoring the importance of leadership to intelligently utilize the available resources in ways a leaderless revolution never could. There is one such moment where the lights are turned off and Curtis calls back to the rear to have torches made from recently discovered matches.

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There is also a pivotal moment in the battle where one of Curtis’ friends is being held hostage behind him by an enemy soldier. It’s clear that he will be killed if Curtis doesn’t turn around and stop fighting. But ahead of him is a valuable target from the front section the resistance needs to capture in order to be successful. Conventional wisdom is to cut your losses, give up, save your friend, and live to fight another day if you’re lucky. But Curtis knows that if the revolution is to be successful, he has to go forward and achieve the objective at hand, even if it costs his friend’s life. You can’t give away the entire revolution to save one person, and this is something that Snowpiercer gets exactly right in a very bold way.

And finally, Bong realized something of critical importance. He incorporated into Snowpiercer the idea that it’s not enough to rise up and simply replace the existing order while maintaining the established structure of society. Curtis’ plan was essentially, “When we take the engine, we control the world.” He says, “It will be different when we get there [to the front].” But as well intentioned as this plan is, that ideology isn’t enough. There is no point in attempting a revolution if your only goal is to change out the leadership, maintaining the basic conditions that oppress the masses. The goal must be to completely smash the unjust system, and then build an entirely new system from the ground up, fundamentally changing the terms of human social relations.

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The revolution Curtis led, as just and righteous as it was, didn’t go far enough on an ideological level, and was too limited in scope. But Bong, to his credit, developed another character who understood how Curtis’ plan, as bold and well executed as it was, was ultimately short-sighted. Namgoong Minsoo (Song) realized that they would never be free as long as they remained trapped on the train and argued an even more radical line than Curtis: they have to get outside and stop the train entirely. It’s the system that’s fundamentally wrong, after all, not just Wilford’s control over that system. If Curtis simply replaced Wilford, the train keeps going, and the only changes would be minor reforms while the system remains in place. This is not good enough, and so Minsoo takes radical action to destroy the system once and for all. The future of humanity must be outside the train, because even though it might have seemed like it to the trapped passengers, the train isn’t actually the world, and therefore truly revolutionary thinking must go beyond its boundaries.

The science of revolution is very complex, and it’s quite remarkable that Snowpiercer demonstrated a well-developed understanding of these issues throughout the film. Like Avatar before it, Snowpiercer not only shows a people’s war in a positive light, but it shows that struggle being ultimately successful, to one degree or another, and it deserves great praise for this. Given what’s at stake, and given the odds against progressive films in the current reactionary climate, Snowpiercer has achieved something truly remarkable. It should be noted that Harvey Weinstein, who owns the US rights to the film, requested that 20 minutes be cut from the film, and Bong refused to comply. The American distribution suffered as a result, but the film remained intact and its message uncompromised.

Snowpiercer was able to distill several important lessons about revolution down to their essence, and then portray them within the context of a highly entertaining, commercial film, which is no small feat. Given the state of the world we live in, a world where the ruling class is enabled through a system of exploitation to brutally oppress others for their own benefit, a world where the atrocities currently being carried out in Gaza are not only possible but common, a film like Snowpiercer is a much needed breath of fresh air. Humanity needs revolution, nothing less, and Snowpiercer reflects that urgency in a highly developed way.

For those interested in learning more about revolution, please visit: revcom.us

Elysium & What Could Have Been

Getting overtly progressive big-budget films made in Hollywood isn’t always an easy thing to do, and successfully marketing them is even more difficult. Neill Blomkamp deserves a fair amount of credit then, not only for Elysium‘s existence, but for crafting a film capable of being marketed to a wide audience. Just last year, even though it was a far greater film, Cloud Atlas failed spectacularly at the U.S. box office, so Elysium‘s debut at #1 is nothing to sneeze at. However, while the film hits many of the right notes, especially in the first half, it fails to be the Science Fiction masterpiece it could have been.

Elysium‘s basic premise is that in the next century Earth’s wealthiest citizens flee the planet due to overpopulation and disease. They build themselves a “habitat,” as it’s repeatedly called by the principal villain, played in chilling fashion by Jodie Foster, called Elysium. It’s a massive space station which orbits Earth, complete with its own artificial atmosphere and lush gardens encircling perfectly manicured estates, far out of reach of the unsightly poverty stricken people below.

The film succeeds in depicting an extreme class division that accurately describes the brutal unfairness inherent in capitalist society. It’s a system in which the wealthy profit off the labor of the masses, hoard an ever increasing percentage of the total wealth, and then barricade themselves in mansions, protected by gates and a growing police state. Elysium simply takes the horrible reality already manifesting itself across the globe to its next logical step. When fleeing to the suburbs is no longer a viable option, space becomes the final refuge of the elite seeking to put distance between themselves and the people they exploit for profit. Elysium, the “habitat” for the elite, is the ultimate gated community.

In the film, which takes place in 2154, the whole of Los Angeles has become a massive slum, but it should be noted that there are already many places on Earth much worse than anything shown in Elysium. Point being, while Blomkamp certainly gets the point across, he could have taken the poverty depicted in the film much further and still been within the bounds of plausibility.

Elysium‘s perfectly integrated special effects shine brightest in the opening sequences. It’s clear that Blomkamp hasn’t lost his flair for building future worlds with an amazing sense of physical authenticity since his feature debut, District 9 (2009). The movements of the robotic cops are completely natural and life-like, making their vicious brutality all the more visceral, which allows the film to bring into focus the true role of the police under capitalism with unflinching clarity. They are agents of oppression who enforce the divide between the rich and the poor, and the film gets this exactly right.

Max, the film’s main character, played by Matt Damon, is beaten by the android police, his arm broken, simply because he told a harmless joke while being questioned about the contents of his backpack while on his way to work. The poor and working classes have to know their place, and a police baton to the skull is a crude but effective method used by the elite to maintain the established order. The lesson: don’t step out of line and don’t question your place, or else.

This lesson is applied even more harshly when a group of Earthlings aboard pirate shuttles attempt to make their way to Elysium’s high-tech healthcare pods, which can cure everything from broken bones to cancer in a matter of seconds. Elysium is protected by Delacourt (Foster), who serves as the sanctuary’s secretary of defense. She orders the shuttles shot down without hesitation. Life preserving technology is reserved only for those who can afford the luxury, and those who can’t are dealt with swiftly.

Max is badly injured while working his job in a factory, ironically building the robotic police force which oppresses his class, and he’s given a grim prognosis. With only days to live, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek out a local smuggler in the hope of buying a ticket to Elysium, where his life could be saved with the help of a medical pod.

Though while the opening sequences of the film lay the foundation for the possibility of a truly radical conclusion, Elysium ultimately falls short of this potential. Rather than taking the plot in a direction in which Max fights for the liberation of all people of Earth, Blomkamp’s story is one of self preservation. Max wants to get to Elysium only to save himself. This isn’t to say that Max isn’t generally a pretty good guy, or that he isn’t respected by his peers, but it is a reflection of the way people are taught to think under capitalism.

Max makes a deal with the smuggler and agrees to hijack information from an Elysium citizen’s brain in exchange for passage to Elysium. The job goes badly wrong, but the information is successfully downloaded into Max’s brain. And the rest of the film is a highly entertaining chase between Max and a ruthless former government agent named Kruger who has been dispatched by Delacourt to stop the fugitive at all costs.

During the action, Max protects his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), a nurse who has a young daughter dying of cancer. As children Max promised to take her to Elysium, but now she wants to get there so she can cure her daughter.

Elysium is definitely a progressive film. It’s obvious from its depiction of extreme class division that Blomkamp is attempting to make a point, not only about where society is heading, but about our world as it is now. Science Fiction has always been a genre that allows for the expression of political ideas through metaphor and allegory, and Elysium, like District 9 before it, is no exception. But Elysium fails to bring home the message that is really needed right now.

It focuses on an individual who aspires to the lifestyle of the elite. His whole life he’s wanted membership in their exclusive club, and he’s lived a life of crime looking for his way to the mountain top. Max was never a Robin Hood figure who fights on behalf of the poor and oppressed, he’s merely been searching for his ticket out of poverty. His life-threatening accident on the job only adds urgency to the quest he was already undertaking.

And in order for Max to accomplish his goal he unites with a band of smugglers and mercenaries, rather than rallying the masses to rise up and overthrow their oppressors once and for all. Elysium could have gone in such a direction, not only getting to the root of the problem, but showing a truly righteous course of action to overcome it.

It’s also disappointing that the film depicts such stereotypical gender roles. Max is the strong warrior who protects his woman, while Frey is cast exclusively in the role of nurturing mother. And Delacourt, the apparently childless power hungry totalitarian, serves as the negative contrast to Frey’s nurturing motherhood. Delacourt represents the wrong kind of woman, while Frey is upheld as the good kind who gets protected by the male hero.

In much more radical fashion, James Cameron’s Avatar envisioned a technologically inferior people not only resisting an invading capitalist-imperialist force, but soundly defeating them, and it sent a clear message about the type of revolutionary struggle that needs to be waged, including a breakdown of traditional gender roles. Neytiri is every bit the warrior Jake Sully is.

Had Blomkamp chosen to embrace that same revolutionary spirit, Elysium could have potentially surpassed Avatar in terms of political importance. It’s set here on Earth and features actual human beings struggling to survive under the very same system that rules over us right now. It’s a very entertaining film, but imagine how powerful and inspiring Elysium could have been to millions around the world had it actually shown the development of an authentic revolutionary movement here on Earth, especially one that successfully topples an unjust system based on exploitation that results in extreme class division.

What I’m Watching Right Now

I haven’t been able to get to many films lately, but I have been doing a better job keeping up with television. So, here’s a list of the shows I’m currently in the process of catching up on, or have recently watched. If you’ve been following any of these shows, please feel free to ask me questions or raise topics of discussion in the Comments section of this post. Keep in mind that I’m not totally caught up on all of these shows, but these are the programs that have caught my attention recently.

- Breaking Bad

- American Horror Story

- The Walking Dead

- Homeland

- Real Time With Bill Maher

- Game of Thrones

- The Newsroom

- The Killing

- Dexter

- Ray Donovan

- Archer

- House of Cards

- 666 Park Avenue

- The Americans

- Revolution

- Eastbound and Down

- Boardwalk Empire

- Luck

- Girls

- Last Resort

- The Bachelor/The Bachelorette

Kanye West Needs to Learn the Difference Between the Cry of Rebellion of the Slave (New or Old) and the Frustrated Rage of the Wannabe New Slave Master: OR WHY YOU CANNOT BREAK ALL THE CHAINS EXCEPT ONE

Reprinted from Revolution Newspaper

by Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix | June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

In his new song, “New Slaves,” Kanye West evokes the seismic brutality and grinding oppression inflicted on Black people since they were first dragged to these shores in slave chains. He indicts the cradle-to-prison pipeline that steals the lives of Black youth and rails against the cold, hard reality that no matter what one accomplishes, if one is Black they will continue to face dehumanizing and even life-threatening racism. Through this song, he declares himself in open rebellion against a racist industry that seeks to neuter and profit off his artistic talents and a broader society which has, as an expression of this very racism, repeatedly written off or dismissed Kanye’s rants and anger as simply an outgrowth of “his oversized ego.”

But where does Kanye take this? Unfortunately, instead of the cry of rebellion of the slave (new or old) who wants to not only get out of this madness himself but fight for a world where no one is oppressed, exploited, and degraded in this way, Kanye rages at the ways this ongoing oppression keeps him from being able to fully integrate himself into, and assume his place at the top of, the modern-day slave system.

This is expressed not only in the way Kanye constantly boasts of obscene wealth and conspicuous consumption in a world where so many suffer so endlessly (including those whose modern-day slave labor has produced all that material wealth). Even more, this comes through in Kanye’s inability and/or unwillingness to envision a world that is not divided into oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited, those on top and those on bottom. Encased within these terms, Kanye ends up making a principle—even an anthem—of fighting to be on top. As he puts it crudely in the chorus of “New Slaves”: “I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.”

Think about what this chorus is saying. That essentially this world is made up of two kinds of people. On the top are the “dicks,” i.e., “real men” who get off on fucking over others. On the bottom are the “swallowers,” i.e., women, as well as men who are being cast as women (the biggest insult that can be hurled at men today), who are viewed as nothing more than receptacles for some “dick’s” semen. Kanye doesn’t object to this dehumanizing division. Instead, he openly brags about and claims his place in it as a “dick.”

And look at what actually goes on in this world where the half of humanity that is born female are treated as “swallowers.”

Look at the way that women and girls are bombarded from a very young age—including by songs like this one—with the notion that their highest purpose in life is to be of sexual service to men. Look at the way men—trained in this same outlook from a very young age—routinely beat, rape, pimp, purchase, and otherwise insult and demean women on the street, in the homes, in the schools, in their relationships, and at workplaces. Look at the way women, if they actually have sex or even if they are sexually abused or raped, are considered “sluts” or “hos” and treated like soiled and unworthy garbage. Look at the millions of women and young girls throughout the world who are preyed upon and pimped out, drugged and beaten into submission, and sold as mere bodies to be violated and demeaned on the street or through the Internet. Look at the whole Christian fascist movement in this country that has assassinated abortion doctors and passed outrageous restrictions, all out of their desire to reduce women back to breeders of children and possessions of men. Look in the shelters and on the streets where poor and especially Black women have been evicted from public housing by the thousands, along with their children. Look at the desperate women who make up the bulk of the modern-day slave system of sweatshop exploitation all around the world.

Calling women “swallowers” accepts this enslavement and oppression. Bragging about being a “dick” celebrates being a wannabe slave master. Not only is this utterly unacceptable for how it views women, this kind of approach ultimately leads Kanye away from consistently challenging even the horrendous oppression of Black people he legitimately and powerfully indicts.

We see this very sharply in the closing verse of Kanye’s song. Kanye rails against the way corporations have tried to control him and draws parallels to the private prison contractors making enormous profits off stealing the lives of Black youth. He calls out those who are sitting back in the Hamptons (one of the most elite and wealthy vacation spots) bragging about the wealth they made through this exploitation of Black people. But then, he rhymes, “Fuck you and your Hampton house, I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse, Came on her Hampton blouse, And in her Hampton mouth.” Here Kanye reduces his “rebellion” against the oppression and exploitation of Black people to a vision of revenge against this racist elite that has denied him full entry by defiling and degrading this elite’s property, which is all that women in this view are deemed to be.

It is simply a fact that there is no fundamental difference between this view of women and the brutality and degradation and terror, imprisonment, and foreclosed futures of those who are born Black or Latino or other oppressed nationalities in this country. Indeed, the roots of both these forms of oppression are woven deep into the structures and culture of this capitalist-imperialist system and the struggle to end both these, and all other, forms of oppression are also bound together in the struggle to make real revolution to get rid of this system. How this is so is something that people need to get deeply into and a good place to start are the special issues of Revolutionnewspaper which deal in great depth with “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of this System, and the Revolution We Need” and “A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity.”

Today’s modern-day slaves do NOT need the cry of revenge and degradation flowing from the frustrated aspirations of the new wannabe slave master. Humanity desperately and urgently needs the deepest cry and act of rebellion of the slaves who are determined to free not only themselves but all of humanity. This is the fight for real, all-the-way communist revolution as it has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian (BA). And we need art and culture which celebrates this genuine rebellion and the strivings for really breaking free of all this enslavement, degradation, and self-degradation.

All this drives home the tremendous truth and significance of BAsics 3:22, a statement made by BA many years ago, which Kanye West, oppressed people everywhere, and all those who yearn to get free must learn from today:

“You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.”

Reprinted from Revolution Newspaper

The Amazing Vanishing Act of Cloud Atlas

What happened to Cloud Atlas? My favorite film of 2012 has totally vanished from the face of the Earth. It was made by the highly successful, mainstream Wachowski siblings and their collaborator Tom Tykwer, who has also had mainstream success. It featured some of the biggest names in Hollywood (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant), as well as a huge, well-known supporting cast. It was so grand in scope and spectacle, so bold and daring, so unique, and so expertly executed that it was bound to leave audiences awed and inspired. As I sat dumbfounded in my seat after seeing it, I fully anticipated that it would pile up accolades through awards season and cement its status as a classic.

Enter crickets chirping. None of that happened. No accolades, no awards, and very few Top 10 lists. It didn’t even get any nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards, which is amazing considering it was one of the most ambitious independently funded films of all-time. It was even branded the worst film of the year by Time Magazine, and its DVD/Blu-ray release has been delayed not once, but twice.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like something fishy is going on here. I know I couldn’t have been the only person to be totally blown away by Cloud Atlas, so why is it being neglected, ignored, and buried by the industry?

To go back to beginning, it was incredibly difficult to get the film made in the first place, and the project likely would have been abandoned if it weren’t for Tom Hanks’ enthusiasm for the project and his determination to make sure it was completed as written. Which leads me to what I assume is the real issue here. The subject matter.

Yes, Cloud Atlas is a sweeping, genre-bending epic with big name actors and incredible special effects, but it’s also highly political. And not just political, it’s revolutionary. The narrative weaves together several stories that take place over several hundred years, but the theme of openly resisting injustice and authoritarian power is carried throughout. It’s proudly anti-establishment and openly embraces resistance and revolution as the solutions to human exploitation and oppression across the ages. While right on the money politically, that’s not a line the major studios are too keen to finance, promote, and distribute.

And even though the film has one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen, an incredible 6-minute composition in its own right, the film wasn’t marketed on television very well. The TV spots focused on action scenes, flashed generic critical praise on the screen like, “A remarkable movie experience,” and left out all the political content that would actually make people want to see the movie. Cloud Atlas is an intricate, philosophical, politically timely film, but it was promoted as a run of the mill thrill ride of the week. And, not surprisingly, its low box office numbers reflect that generic style of marketing. When you’ve got a film like Cloud Atlas in your hands, a film that has something important to say about the human experience, you’ve got to sell it based on what it actually is and hope it connects with the intended audience. You don’t advertise it as a roller-coaster ride… unless of course you’re afraid of the message and hope to limit the audience to people who just want to see things blow up on screen.

And once the film was considered a “flop” it became poison to awards nominating organizations. And thus, the best film of the year was buried. Its dvd/blu-ray release date originally set for January, was pushed back to March, and eventually delayed until May 14.

There are those who will argue that Cloud Atlas has been forgotten and buried by the industry just because it didn’t perform well, and perhaps others will say it’s just not a very good film. Those people are entitled to that opinion, but in my mind it seems clear that the reason the industry mishandled this project from the beginning, from the difficulty in acquiring funding, to the poor marketing, the lack of critical acclaim, the way it was conspicuously ignored by all the major award shows, and the twice delaying of its home video release… was a chain reaction caused by the desire to suppress the film’s progressive, anti-establishment, revolutionary political content.

It’s a film about how human beings are connected to each other, and the way we treat each other matters. It’s about finding the strength to resist evil, even if it seems like that evil is permanent and the entire universe is against you. It’s a film that desperately needs to be seen right now. We need some revolutionary hope. We need to learn that things don’t always have to be the way they are, and that if enough people get together and decide to do the right thing we can truly change this world for the better. The fact that Cloud Atlas, a film that champions this anti-establishment position and embraces a spirit of human interdependence and revolution, has been shoved in the corner, mocked, and left to be forgotten is practically criminal, especially while so many negative, politically harmful films are upheld critically and widely promoted.