Baz, the Tabby, and plain bad taste
Schroedinger's Tabby might be able to run a nice blog, but I'm not sure whether she and I would enjoy watching a movie together, if her praise for Baz Luhrmann's execrable Australia is any guide. How can I describe the monumental bad taste of the film, without coming across as hopelessly shrill and self-righteous, a la Germaine Greer?
Instead of discussing Australia, let me tell you about an idea for a movie that I've been turning over in my head since I was forced to sit through Luhrmann's epic. I don't have a script yet - just some ideas about genre and the skeleton of a narrative.
Part of the movie I want to make is about a little half-Jewish boy, his Mum, his grandfather, and a few of his other Jewish relations, all of whom are being persecuted by Germans during the Nazi era.
At the start of the film, the little boy watches his grandfather being framed for a murder he did not commit, and hunted by a detachment of the Gestapo. The little boy is also being hunted, by a group of Nazi eugenicists who want to place him with an Aryan family and eventually 'breed the Jewishness' out of his descendants.
About a third of the way through my movie, the mother of the little boy dies horribly while trying to protect him from the Nazis. Another member of the family is trapped and executed near the end of the film.
I know all this sounds a bit morbid and Schindlers List-like but, rest assured, my movie will have its sunny spots. I want to leave my audience feeling good, and to showcase some of the delights of 1940s Germany.
To stop things from getting too maudlin, the scenes of the boy and his Jewish relations being tormented will segue into romantic encounters between a handsome young German couple, as well as humourous exchanges between off-duty Gestapo officers and other Nazis drinking in Aryan-only bars.
And the part-Jewish boy will come to realise that the death of his mother isn't a reason for despair: after losing her he'll cry for a few minutes, then be consoled by the jokes a beautiful young German woman will tell.
He'll soon be enthusiastically working - without pay, of course - for the woman, who runs a factory stolen from Jews by Germans. My little half-breed will find happiness by risking his life attempting a very difficult task in the factory - a task that will, if completed successfully, make some much-needed profits for his pretty Aryan owner. Of course, the little boy will manage the task, and the Germans will get to hold on to the factory they took from the Jews. Everyone except a few Jews will live happily ever after.
I know what you're thinking. No director or scriptwriter could ever be crass enough to take up the sort of project I've been sketching out. Who, you're asking, could possibly think it acceptable to interlace scenes from a genocide with scenes of sweet romance and light comedy? Who would be crass or stupid enough to show the perpetrators of that genocide as cute lovers or loveable wisecracking rogues?
After suffering through Australia, you'll have an answer to those questions.