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31.5.04

Authorial Intent

I'm writing an awful lot about The Day After Tomorrow considering I'm probably never going to actually see it*.

Strangely enough, the only favorable review of the movie that I've seen (not that I've been looking that hard) comes from a conservative. Liberals seem eager to minimize its cinematographical merits in order to distance themselves from its wacky science, while Johnathan Last is apparently comfortable enough in his political stance that he can sit back and enjoy it as a fun disaster flick.

Last goes on to argue that TDAT can't be construed as a criticism of the Bush administration because neither the screenplay nor the book it's based on were originally written with an explicitly anti-Bush agenda in mind. That's a pretty strong version of the idea of authorial intent. Art is a pretty shallow pursuit if you can't reinterpret it and make new connections -- if it's not just wrong but illegitimate to see a movie whose theme is people dying because of their complacency about climate change, and then apply that message to the specific case of the Bush administration.

*Not that this is much of a rejection of the movie. I only see about two movies a year in a theater. This year I've already seen Return of the King, and I'd probably spend my money on Shrek 2 over TDAT.

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