Monday, January 19, 2015

Chris Kyle And Dr. King

TigerBlog has never really understood the idea of applauding at the end of the movie.

Who is the applause for exactly? None of the people involved in the making of the movie are there. It's not like a concert or a game or a show. It's like applauding at the end of a TV show at home.

This past Friday TigerBlog went to see "American Sniper." While he's been at many movies where the audience applauded at the end, he's never experienced something like what happened at the end of this movie.

This time, when the movie ended and the credits began, the audience filed out in total silence. Not one person in the packed theater made a sound.

It was out of respect for what had just been shown on the screen and even more so out of respect for Chris Kyle, the title character of the movie. 

TigerBlog doesn't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, so he'll only say a few things about it.

First, it has set a record for money earned for an opening weekend for a movie in January with $105 million. The top box office records are set in the summer or at Christmas, and the top 10 opening weekends are all movies aimed at young audiences. No. 1, by the way, is "Marvel's The Avenger," if you can believe that.

Second, this is not a pro-war propaganda movie, as some have inexplicably called it. This is a movie about one man, his sense of duty and the moral and emotional conflicts and tolls it puts on him.

Third, Bradley Cooper is insanely good as Kyle.

Fourth, TigerBlog can't imagine how any other movie could beat this movie for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. Then again, if "Shakespeare In Love" can beat "Saving Private Ryan," then TB won't be shocked when "American Sniper" doesn't win.

To sum it up, TigerBlog can't recommend this movie strongly enough.

TigerBlog has not seen "Selma," and apparently he's not alone among those who have seen "American Sniper" but not the civil rights movie. "Selma" earned $9.8 million this past weekend.

Selma is the town in Alabama where the marches to Montgomery that helped generate national attention that uncovered the incredibly low black voter percentages in the area and ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The big controversy in the "Selma" movie is, apparently, the portrayal of the relationship between President Lyndon Johnson - the architect of the "Great Society" that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 - and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader for whom today's national holiday is named.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has the distinction of being the only person born in the United States of America who has a federal holiday named for him. There are two other people who have U.S. federal holidays named for them, and neither was born before the U.S. was founded in 1776.

The two are Christopher Columbus and George Washington, as the holiday you know as "Presidents' Day" is actually officially called "Washington's Birthday."

TigerBlog studied the Civil Rights Movement in great detail when he was in college, and he came to have a great respect for the courage of some of its leaders, most notably Dr. King. This coming April 4th will mark the 47th anniversary of his assassination; had he lived, he would have turned 86 last Thursday.

Also had he lived, he never would have had a federal holiday named for him. Like many federal holidays, as time goes by, they become more and more about the three-day weekend that many have - though not at Princeton, where only five of the 10 federal holidays are official days off - and less about the reason for the holiday.

A good compromise today would be to go see "Selma" if you have today off, by the way. Like "American Sniper," it too was nominated for Best Picture.

There were three marches from Selma to Montgomery, none of which went off peacefully. The first was on March 7, 1965; the last was 15 days later, on March 22.

What was happening in Princeton Athletics in between? Well, the men's basketball team beat Penn State on March 8 in the opening game of the NCAA tournament. On March 20, Princeton defeated Wichita State in the third-place game.

Princeton was led then, obviously, by Bill Bradley, who would go on to become a United States Senator from New Jersey for 18 years and then a Presidential candidate. Was Bradley aware of the marches in Selma at time?

Was anyone here?

It wasn't until just now that TigerBlog put the two timelines together. He never spoke to Gary Walters about it; perhaps he will next time he sees him.

In the meantime, it's Dr. King's birthday today. Click HERE to to read the text of his "I Have A Dream Speech," by the way.

Or go see "Selma." Or "American Sniper." Or both.

They tell the stories of two great American heroes, one of whom has a national holiday named for him, the other whose heroism would have been lost to most were it not for the movie.

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