This is my confession. My guilty pleasure is watching people be honest about their truth. This is true especially in films because it is difficult to narrate a story without putting a little bit of yourself into it. This is also probably why most Hollywood films these days end up looking like disjointed meth filled dreams of losers.
Which is why I like the trend of pulp/bestseller Phenoms like Orson Scott card putting their vision out , like the innards of their souls, on display in cinematic hermeneutics of a clinically processed screenplay target markets and all.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ender’s Game. I thought it was a meditation on war and strategy on the scale of Sun Tzu. It was also honest to the modern anglo saxon (Meaning :America britain canada Australia …and their hangers on) Attitude to war and the reasons for waging it …and the methods of building civilizations around it. These rationales have not changed since Roman times but their modern application has led , often to excesses such as Genocide vitiating militarism and colonial -racial exploitation in the name of manifest destiny.
The film ed version of Card(producer) ‘s 1985 novel, which is required reading for the US Marines, is in equal measure Gee whiz computer graphics like a Star Wars in HD, Deeply meditative millitary philosophy that takes the vein of clausewitz or Sun Tzu, and Tween Redneck-grunty dialog Aimed at the sub intelligent (white?) army conscript without too many options who’s likely to be cannon fodder in the US millirary soon.
It is to this third audience that the messages are most effective. As Viola Davis the training school madonna figure (and all women in the film are ample breasted madonnas nurturing and reaffirming the borderline sociaopath Ender into a fully fledged killer) says ” You pick them at their most vulnerable and take them apart with what you demand from them and I have to put them back together afterwards.” Thus adumbrating hollywood’s role in nurturing and encouraging the millitary industrial complex into becoming what it is.
The message of the film , directed at its tween audience of the little Napoleons is clear:
Every war is a potential genocide. in the modern age every 21 year old in control of a small red button is a general in the scale of Rommel or napoleon with the power to destroy civil societies without a trace. With such awesome power comes the need to write mythology around why we are permitted to destroy Life and Civilization. Historically we have done this (all of us) by mythologizing the winners into a race of Demigods. In the Greek times demi gods(and Gods) were fallible and subjects of their own immoral flaws. The weakness of today’s Demigods is to be that they are human. This is also the reason that it’s OK for them to commit genocide(because they suffer guilt and compassion…which are ok emotions for 22 year olds to feel after they have wiped out a Pakistani village through the Napoleon like use of the red button).
The film thus hits both Catholic theology of redemption and the faustian theme of the rise and fall of man . The Christ/Faust figure of the film, Ender, is redeemed , repeatedly by madonnas (the last of whom turns out to be an insect) who reaffirm his divine right to be the killer he is nurtured into becoming. For a Mormon Author Card’s updated screenpaly is remarkably doctrinal catholic.
The End of the film reminds me of the scene from Gandhi(the movie) where a very different Ben Kingsley tells an anguished murderer from circumstance, to adopt a child from the community he hated so much and raise him as one of THAT community…and that would be the way out of his personal hell.
As a proposed solution for genociding 22 year olds in the US army, this feels like cynical perversion of Gandhi’s message. I would have wanted my ender to surrender to mental health authorities and go through prolonged lobotomizing treatments that suppress the urge to equate the destruction of civilizations and life with victory of some sort.
Long ago it was OK to kill people for your food.or for a mate. Now,of course we know better but it seems that one arm of civil society has grown like a cancer in the wrong direction and Hollywood is guilty of nurturing it.
The final climactic battle also draws the viewer in to the big reveal that the Game was really the Killing, and effectively point the finger right back at US for rooting Ender on and cheering for hs winning the Game , at all costs.
I thorougly approve.
Murder and genocide are “OK” because “it’s either US or them”. to a desperate general smarting under the insult sufferred by Battle losses, a Dresden Bombing or a hiroshima bomb is fait acomplii. it makes Battle sense.
Where it stops making sense is when the arguments that is used by the genocider in THIS war can equally be applied to the argument used by another genocider in another war. “They” were growing without population control and were threatening “our” way of life. It was either them or US – All tribal powerful and convincing arguments to wipe out the “other” who only matter as much as insects to “US”.
The tropes of science fiction and the Military strategy , apart, Ender’s Game is deeply steeped in Hollywood tradition. This is the code of the lonely warrior you see in spagetti westerns . This is the ethos of how the west was won. It is the John ford western wrapped in a star wars wrapper. At its core are killers who WANT to be seen – as vulnerable decision makers who have the Terrible Gun and want nurturing from unjudgemental mother figures
If films are a cry for help from minds demented by the times, then ender’s Game is a civilizational cry for help from the empires that engendered Hollywood.