Can We Forgive Rogue One’s Heroes? Jan18

Can We Forgive Rogue One’s Heroes?...

In a film about good intentions, heavy consciences, and tainted legacies (also, lasers), the cry for redemption is what stood out to me the most. The line between scoundrel and hero is blurred in Rogue One. Galen Erso, the lead scientist behind the construction of the Death Star, wonders if history will remember him as one of the Galaxy’s greatest villains. Unwilling to die like his wife (who makes a stand rather than be a slave to the machinations of the Empire), he makes a deal to help complete the Death Star, believing his actions will be justified by adding a kill switch in secret. Guilt, when faced head on, transforms its subject into a willing sacrifice for good. Captain Cassian has compromised so much of his conscience as a saboteur, and he wonders if there will ever be a momentous enough victory to justify those actions. If he kills for the ideal of freedom that never appears, is he no different than an empire filled with men following violent orders in the name of a peace that is never established? Saw Gerrera, a fanatic, leads a militant terrorist-like group in the face of the Empire. Gerrera has fought too long, making too many compromises to feel like a hero. When in possession of a turncoat Imperial pilot who brings news of the Death Star’s flaw, Gerrera tortures him. While he saved Jyn Erso as a child, he abandons her when she comes of age in a perhaps misguided effort to keep her identity hidden. It’s another difficult choice to weigh heavy on his conscience, but made with good intentions. Desperate circumstances have led these men to embrace disgraceful methods, and they are all of them ashamed. The Turning Point Galen Erso, Cassian Andor, Saw Gerrera, and many of the Rebels...

A Gremlin’s Guide to Gift-Giving Dec21

A Gremlin’s Guide to Gift-Giving...

For the past five or six years, my mother-in-law has been trying— unsuccessfully, I might add—to start a new Christmas tradition of giving only handmade gifts within the family. The admirable idea behind this is the desire to resist the increasing commercialization of Christmas by giving thoughtful, personalized gifts without spending a lot of money. It draws the sharp and important distinction between the importance of “gift-giving” as an integral part of Christmas and “commercialization,” with an emphasis on consumption and greed. The importance of gift giving as an aspect of the holiday season precedes the Christianizing of the winter solstice festivities. In the gospel account of the nativity, the Magi from the East brought gifts— gold, frankincense and myrrh (“but don’t worry too much about the myrrh next time”)—to the Christ child to acknowledge the importance of his birth. And we’ve all had to suffer through the terrible, endless carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Rand’s decision to purchase the Mogwai is deeply suspicious. Only a few Christmas movies (my preferred favourite holiday tradition) touch on the theme of gift giving with any real intentionality. There’s A Christmas Story, of course, which is more about being wary of what you ask for—You’ll shoot your eye out, Ralphie! But the only Christmas movie I can think about that treats seriously the importance of gift-giving is Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984). Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my holiday watching tends towards the more metaphysical stories about the cosmic importance of the individual: A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, etc. And yet, when it comes to a reflection on the importance of gift-giving, few films come close to the astute allegory that is Gremlins. When you strip away all the rubber monsters and...