Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Don J. Cormier
Disney's latest animated epic, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, opened on June 15 and, in the ensuing weekend, it grossed $20.4 million, according to the June 18 issue of the San Jose Mercury News. Although this opening figure was somewhat "soft" by Hollywood standards, it seems clear that the film will sail on to great financial success. Whether the film should be described as an artistic success is a cloudier subject.
It must be admitted that Atlantis is acceptable entertainment. This tale of an idealistic young scientist who leads a roguish band of adventurers to the sunken realm, where he finds treasure, treachery, and true love, evokes the excitement and wonder of earlier science fiction by such authors as Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
However, the film "works" almost in spite of itself. It contains a significant number of minor annoyances.
To begin, the script is so relentless in it's political correctness that it could have been written by Hillary Clinton. The "good guys" are an array of representatives from various groups which liberals typically define as victims. Not surprisingly, the villains are macho Caucasians. The invasion of Atlantis strongly parallels the real-life invasion of Mexico by the Spaniards. Personally, I tend to believe in many liberal perspectives, but the film's preaching is as subtle as a beached whale on a hot day in August.
Another problem area is that of historical authenticity. The story is set specifically in 1914, but there are many historically implausible details. I'm not referring to the film's futuristic technology, or geological absurdities, because these are crucial to the plot. I'm referring to needless minor errors, presumably caused by carelessness.
For example, the fashions of 1914 were quite distinctive. Fashionable women wore hip-length tunics over long hobble shirts or peg-top skirts. We see few of these in the film. In the opening museum scenes, the female visitors mostly wear bustles of the 1870 era. The elderly female phone operator who accompanies the expedition wears clothes reminiscent of the 1940's. The Teutonic villainess dresses like a cross between Jennifer Lopez and Lara Croft.
The hero is drawn to look about 25 years old, yet he has home movies of his childhood. Now think about it. The character would have been born circa 1890. The very first movies were being invented in the 1890's. It's technically possible that he could have been filmed as a child but only if his parents knew Thomas Edison.
Another error involves the prominent display of the famous James Montgomery Flagg recruiting poster with the slogan "Uncle Sam Wants You". This picture was first revealed to the public in 1916.
There are many other minor errors, mostly in regard to proposing degrees of racial and sexual enlightenment which did not exist until many years later.
It might be argued that the teenage boys who are likely to be this film's main audience won't know or care about these discrepancies but with it's gigantic staff and budget, should the Disney organization be praised for spreading misinformation?
Visually, the film is unsatisfying. Atlantis is supposed to be a supremely attractive paradise, but the overabundance of blues and greys in its color scheme renders it as inviting as yesterday's clam chowder.
The characters are drawn in varying styles, ranging from gross caricature to near-normality. The combination of real and unreal styles has worked in other Disney efforts but, here, the semi-realistic context renders them distracting.
Despite all these criticisms, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is worth seeing once though perhaps not more than once.
Letters to the Editor
|thanks in part to what I have been so fortunate
to read in your news letter. I have been at this point for some time,
but you have been an inspiration to me ....
Sathyu: Enjoyed your poem in the Frontiersman (July 2001). For an optimistic view of India's economic future under the current pro-market reforms, I recommend "India Unbound," by Gurcharan Das [Hard cover 420 pages (March 2000) South Asia Books; ISBN: 0670882658].
Ted; San Jose, California
I've been chewing on this for a while, but your reflections on Tim McV [June 11 2001 special issue editor] impel me to write. You have a reasonable theoretical understanding of government. I wonder, however, if your antipathy toward our own is not moderated just a bit when you consider what happened in places like Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo in the last decade and is happening in Colombia and Afghanistan at present? Mine certainly is.
The question I'm invoking is how to preserve order and still allow freedom. Occasionally, despite my disdain for this plutocracy of ours, I reflect thankfully that the overt violence is confined to the criminals and the subset of police who behave criminally. Spare me from living in Colombia.
And I can't imagine how things would be better under the sort of Posse Comitatus local government you seem to favor. Instead of competing economically (bad enough), everyone would have to be armed for self-protection as in the Barrio of East LA, while local government would enforce every local prejudice, unconstrained by the separation of powers inherent in our constitution.
Jack; Scotts Valley, California
Why should my "antipathy" toward the U.S. government be "moderated" by comparison to the low standards that you suggest. I judge the U.S. government not by comparison to other governments, but by comparison to American ideals.
For a better understanding of the kind of government that I advocate, I suggest my articles "Anarchy, Monarchy, Malarkey" and "The Long and Winding Doctrine: Social Contract". Also, it seems like your gloomy view of the results of armed citizens might have resulted from watching too many westerns on TV. People don't usually go around looking for fights but, when such fights do happen, it is possible for the "good guys" to win without the intervention of Marshall Dillon, if the citizens are armed. Finally, you worry about armed citizens but then you cite as bad examples countries where the thugs, but not the citizens, are armed. I don't know if the citizens in East LA are armed, but I doubt it.
[The following letters are all in response to "Judicial Imperialism", July 2001, page 1.
Generally, a crime can be prosecuted where the plan was made, where the act happened, or where the result happened. Or all three, since double jeopardy does not apply to separate sovereigns.
Since WWII, it has been agreed among nations that crimes against humanity can be tried anywhere.
That said, I would sure be pissed if my son had been injured arresting Manuel Noriega. And then there was the Mexican doctor kidnapped in Mexico by the DEA for the alleged torture and killing of a DEA agent. He spent about three years challenging US jurisdiction, lost, and was acquitted because, quite simply, the DEA had no evidence.
Steve; San Antonio, Texas
Planning a crime conspiracy should not itself be a crime. A plan doesn't create a victim and, indeed, might not ever come to fruition. The criminalization of conspiracy is nothing more than a special case of Thoughtcrime.
Double jeopardy is part of the problem, isn't it? Double jeopardy protection doesn't apply, but the illegitimate authority to prosecute still does.
An "agreement" between nations isn't legitimately enforceable unless it is explicitly stated in a ratified treaty.
A "crime against humanity" cannot legitimately be a crime unless the specific behavior is explicitly defined and criminalized within the national boundaries in which it happened. Even then, it is punishable only under the legislation of the nation in which it happened. Behavior cannot be a crime in one nation simply by virtue of being a crime in a different nation.
Any crime, even a so-called "crime against humanity", cannot legitimately be tried by a court that lacks jurisdiction.
I would not use "de facto" in describing the authority by which the courts exercise their power out of their legitimate jurisdiction because that implies a general acceptance of that usage of their power.
Technically, an embassy is considered sovereign to the nation of that embassy under
|international treaty. If the crime took
place within the grounds of the embassy, the jurisdiction rightfully belongs
to the country of that embassy. The apprehension of the perpetrators
on the grounds of the embassy means the country of that embassy holds full
jurisdiction for the crime and the criminals. This breaks down if
the perpetrators escape the jurisdiction by escaping from the grounds of
the embassy. Once on foreign soil, extradition proceedings are required
to regain custody of the perpetrators. The means by which the perpetrators
have been captured and delivered to the jurisdiction of the court is the
only deciding factor between the jurisdiction being de facto or de jure.
Since I have not been following the story, I do not know the legitimacy
of the court's actions.
Sir James the Bold
I'm afraid that the illegitimate use of power outside of its legitimate jurisdiction has been generally accepted. Thus, de facto is probably good terminology.
I'm not altogether sure about this being illegitimate. The US government would argue that its embassies are American territory (which they are, by international law); hence the "terrorists" can be tried under US jurisdiction (I use quotation marks insofar as the embassy attacks really are legitimate military actions, given US military presence globally).
More recently, the US has declared itself to be leading an international law and order crusade. I believe (not sure) that it has declared that the FBI has global jurisdiction. All this reflects a simple reality: with the globalization of capitalism, you are going to get the globalization of US law enforcement. Libertarians, conservatives, etc., need to confront the issue of globalization, but they are not ... which is worth an issue of the Frontiersman.
Part of the problem is that many libertarians and conservatives still have a vision of the US as it was in the 1930s, isolationist and with national industries. You rarely if ever see any reference in their publications to the economic system as it has developed since 1945: Bretton Woods System, World Trade Organization, transnational corporations, etc. The reality is that US business operates transnationally, hence requiring US military protection and CIA intervention (for ex: Iran 1953, Gulf War 1991). This in turn requires US participation in the UN to provide the political cover. You can no more get out of the UN than you can get the petroleum corporations out of the Middle East. In any event, US government and corporate leaders understand the system, operate transnationally, and therefore need a global law enforcement system to protect their interests.
Libertarians and conservatives need to confront these realities. But there is a blind spot among them, maybe because they are afraid of being accused of being "anti-capitalist". So they wave around copies of Atlas Shrugged at each other, then wonder why 'the liberals' keep winning. I'll note the anti-WTO demonstrators of the last couple of years have a closer handle on the situation than most "hard-headed" conservatives.
Joseph; Burbank, California
There isn't any such thing as International Law except, perhaps, in the sense of a sort of international Common Law. Such law, however, could be applied only in a Common Law court having international jurisdiction. Such a court doesn't exist. Therefore, such law isn't judicially relevant and can be enforced only economically, diplomatically, or militarily. Furthermore, it is by definition enforceable only against nations and not against individuals. Lately, however, the concept has been perverted into a sort of international legislation-sans-legislature which is applied by courts lacking jurisdiction and which is imposed upon individuals without their consent. Such "law" is far more dangerous than any individuals against whom it could ever be applied. It will not cause justice. It will cause an international police state and international tyranny.
The U.S. government cannot legitimately declare its agencies to have global jurisdiction.
If a business operates within the national boundaries of a particular government, then it must seek what protection it needs from that government, or provide the protection itself. The globalization of capitalism doesn't justify the globalization of U.S. law enforcement. International business practices do not justify US military protection in other countries, CIA intervention in other countries, or a global law enforcement system.
Sam: Because you want to prove the USA at fault when it "indicted" 13 Saudis and one Lebanese in the Khobar Towers bombing, in Dhahran, you write: "Suppose ... Osama bin Laden sent people to arrest a U.S. citizen for
|violations of Muslim doctrine, took the U.S.
citizen against his will to Afghanistan, ...." Two observations:
(1) Issuing indictments against ANY criminals is entirely allowed according to international law, and has been done very often by many countries. Not all countries have extradition agreements which is a bilateral issue between two countries but requests for extradition may certainly be made (e.g., recall the case of Gen. Pinochet recently). This is not a question of "jurisdiction." The U.S. is not at any time preempting another country's laws or rights; it is simply making a request. (Saudi Arabia has all along stated that they will deal with the terrorists, since Saudi laws and property were violated. They have also refused, so far, to extradite the terrorists to the USA.)
Re the bombings of the embassies, here are some interesting snippets from the Web:
(2) More importantly (to me) is your use of the bin Laden example. Bin Laden is not a chief of state ... he is not even a citizen of Afghanistan. Besides, he is (per a reasonable assumption) a terrorist, blowing up foreign embassies. Unless, of course, you morally condone his actions, you cannot use the faulty tit-for-tat logic (constantly invoked by adversaries, I know) which erases all distinctions between the aggressor and the victim. Since you are ultimately invoking international law and, by extension, also moral law it is incumbent on you to pay attention to such things as who initiated force, and who is responding with force. (For example: A case can be made that the USA was wrong to bomb Serbia. However, Serbia did more than just "protect" itself against the Muslim bandits from Kosovo: They essentially decimated Kosovo ... randomly killing women, children and civilians ... just like the Serbian nationalists attempted to "cleanse" Bosnia of non-Serbian elements. The USA just appeared as another bully on the scene, giving Serbia a taste of their own medicine (although, the U.S. probably had no business getting involved in that "European" mess). PUSHING an old lady into the path of a bus is not the same thing as PUSHING an old lady away from the bus.
Ted; San Jose, California
I'm not invoking international law. What does it have to do with moral law?
If the legislation lacks jurisdiction, then the indictment is illegitimate. The 13 Saudis and the one Lebanese were indicted under the United States Code, which lacks jurisdiction in Saudi Arabia. The indictments are illegitimate, regardless of international custom to the contrary.
If the U.S. government really exercises only delegated powers, then it's authority isn't any more legitimate than mine, yours, Osama bin Laden's, or that of any other human being.
The U.S. government is a far more dangerous terrorist organization than Osama bin Laden's outfit. I believe that the U.S. government is the aggressor, not the victim. The "acts of terrorism" about which it complains are legitimate resistance. Furthermore, it wouldn't surprise me to discover that the U.S. government is covertly promoting the terrorism, possibly even staging some of it, as an excuse to increase its own power. Consequently, I do condone the actions of Osama bin Laden as legitimate resistance. My only criticism of him would be regarding the excuse he provides for further increases in the repressive "anti-terrorist" measures being taken by the U.S. government. I'm trying to address that sort of thing in this newsletter. Insofar as he attacks the U.S. government, he is a hero and he is my ally. I applaud him. The U.S. government is my enemy and his enemy.
Buck Hunter Shoots Off His Mouth
My big sister isn't having any luck at finding a husband and I'm doing real bad as a matchmaker. Can you help?
Dear Little Sister
Why make the things? You can buy all the matches you want down to the Wal-Mart.
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor