Friday, October 17, 2008

Oliver Stone's Weird Geography

BOULDER, Colorado -- On Friday night, I went to go see the new Oliver Stone picture, "W." I would not recommend it to anyone. Some of the performances were notable (Josh Brolin as George W. Bush, Richard Dreyfus as Dick Cheney), but the plot was weak, the dialogue was atrocious, and the overall execution of the movie was slapdash and amateurish (perhaps this has something to do with the fact that they rushed to release to precede Election Day). George W. Bush is an incredibly tedious personality, and it is difficult to watch someone imitate him - even brilliantly - for two hours. The President is the only real character in the movie - everyone else is just props with weird affectations more suitable for Saturday Night Live impersonations than dramatic roles - but even his depiction comes across as superficial and trite.

But I digress. In one particularly tedious scene, the "principals" of the Bush administration are meeting in the situation room to plan out their Iraq strategy. Dick Cheney lays out his grand vision of the world - encircle Iran, control the choke points, drain the swamp, forge an eternal American empire, etc. - in front of series of crappy maps. In one of them, a map of the world showing the Axis of Evil, there is a rather odd representation of China, which is partly visible in this screenshot in the top right corner (sorry, this shot from the Youtube trailer was the best that I could do):

Tibet is shown as an independent country. This map is only on the screen for a few seconds, but it's a rather strange choice to make. This is probably just the result of the terribly sloppy filmmaking that characterized the whole film. It is riddled with little mistakes and inconsistencies that nag the overly-attentive viewer (like me); it is attention to detail that makes a good film. But there is a possibility that this is a political statement on the part of Oliver Stone, known for embracing political causes all over the world, some more reputable than others. If it was a statement, well, one person noticed it, and it was dumb and uninspired. The last place I would imagine a free Tibet on a map - other than Beijing - is in a White House conference room.

Okay, I promise that this will be the last post about barely visible maps in the background that are slightly inaccurate.

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