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Christian Petzold’s Transit: Fascism in the Present

Christian Petzold’s Transit: Fascism in the Present

  • August 23, 2019
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Last night I went to see Christian Petzold’s Transit.  It’s a beguiling, enigmatic and haunting film, which cleverly inserts the history of the German occupation of France into present-day France, in a tale of one man’s attempt to flee safety through Marseilles by adopting a false identity as a writer.  Based on the 1942 novel Transit by the German writer Anna Seghers,  the film never refers to Nazism directly.

There is no Gestapo, no occupying troops or Nazi iconography.  The police the characters are fleeing from are contemporary French police who might be carrying out...

At Eternity’s Gate

At Eternity’s Gate

  • April 06, 2019
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A few years ago I visited the artist Ray Atkins at his farmhouse in the French Pyrenees.  For the last few years Ray has painted the forest that surrounds his home, and he had just finished another of his forest paintings on the day we arrived.  I remember he took us into his garden and...

2018:  What I Read and What I Watched

2018: What I Read and What I Watched

  • January 01, 2019
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In dark times, books and films bring more than consolation or escape.  In a world gone stale and out of kilter they can provide oxygen that helps you to breathe.  They help you understand what is going on and remind you of what could be going on.

I read a lot of great books last year. ...

Son of Saul

  • May 19, 2016
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In these dismal times, when the issue of ‘left antisemitism’ are being ruthlessly and cynically instrumentalised within British politics in an attempt to neutralize opposition to the Israeli state, and destroy the leftist surge within the Labour Party, it’s salutary experience to see the Hungarian director László Nemes’s shattering  Son of Saul.   If...

Patricio Guzmán’s The Pearl Button

  • March 30, 2016
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I’m feeling very fortunate indeed indeed to have just caught Chilean director Patricio Guzmán’s amazing movie The Pearl Button in its UK release.  I try and see as many films as I can every year, but Guzmán’s films are always something extra special.  For those who don’t know him, Guzmán is a documentary...

The Big Short

  • February 17, 2016
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Broadly speaking,  there are three types of political or socially-engaged cinema within  Hollywood.  The first category belongs to movies in which the politics are implicit rather than overt, but can nevertheless be detected or interpreted in the underlying ideological, cultural or racial assumptions and priorities that determine plot structures and storylines, or the way that...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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