What madness of actors is it that only approaches the horror of war and yet still rends minds? In the midst of the jungle that is Apocalypse Now, both the brooding Brando (reading The Golden Bough in his temple) and a more unhinged Martin Sheen (the future best President the Empire never had) break their backs upon the fire of insanity. And even in a related way there is madness in the directors Francis Coppola, and earlier Orson Welles (who started but did not execute a projected film of Heart of Darkness). This of course is mad enough, but not close to the indigestible indescribable photo-real blood-and-bone mulch of our daily news reports. War films require a celluloid mode of madness. From Aguirre, Wrath of God, through to the marines singing for Annette Funicello at the end of Full Metal Jacket – there is also a kind of celebrity chaos on the brain that is carefully staged to stand in for the horror, the horror. A depth of affect that still cannot quite reach inside the photograph, cannot animate the film footage, and certainly cannot assuage the desperate need of the piggy pollies to keep themselves clean amidst the shit they have stirred up.
As they stumble towards a tortured damp squib end, I have to ask again: why have the Blair years, which were the years of souped-up Thatcherism with a better frock, why have they not produced the same kind of hostility, dismay and exile that Maggie’s viscous militarist rule had done? We have been ruled by warmongering maniacs in ways contrary to universal good since time immemorial, and too many of us have learnt to ignore this with a vengeance. We are a virus upon the planet. Uncle Bill as freedom fighter, clom friday, for a mainline Napalm shot.
Photo: Horst Fass, near Bao Tra1, 1966