Updated: Oct 13, 2021
FILM AND REALITY
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries people were kidnapped from the continent of Africa, forced into slavery in the American colonies and exploited to work as indentured servants and labor in the production of crops such as tobacco and cotton. [...] Despite seeing an unprecedented degree of Black participation in American political life, Reconstruction was ultimately frustrating for African Americans, and the rebirth of white supremacy—including the rise of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)—had triumphed in the South by 1877. Almost a century later, resistance to the lingering racism and discrimination in America that began during the slavery era led to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, which achieved the greatest political and social gains for Black Americans since Reconstruction. (1)
Racism is undoubtedly one of national security issues but it is always essentially combined with anti-Semitism and anti-Communism in reality. It is prominently witnessed on the notorious racist death squad KKK, Nazis and extreme right-wings of US. In this Dir. Roger Corman's timeless film masterpiece (himself admitted this work as his important film without considering the box office failure at the time of initial distribution), it bravely shows how a professional agitator radicalising a mob against targeted minority.
Unlike the most audience wrongly thinks, so called 'protagonist' v 'antagonist' does not necessarily mean 'a good guy versus 'a bad guy' which is a typical framework of Asiatic dualism. In other words, the leading role 'protagonist' can be a bad guy like in this film. As a result, its narrative structure is twisted in terms of ordinary genre films:
The protagonist Adam Cramer (played by William Shatner) from the white supremacist The Patrick Henry Society (DC) skilfully instigates anti-African riots in the fictitious small Southern town of Caxton in order to suspend already legalised racial integration policy.
WHY THIS 1962 US FILM IS SO IMPORTANT AND ENLIGHTENING FOR HONG KONG?
The main reason is that there are technical similarities between Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement (2019-21) and Adam Cramer's racist mobilisation. If omitting its actual causes and ultimate beneficiaries' political games behind the planned social chaos, Adam Cramer's 'anti-Africans' campaign can be replaced with black-shirted mob's 'anti-mainlanders' campaign here.
This is to some degree true yet the latter was based on artificially distorted class contradiction within Hong Kong. Yes, racism or any other kind of discrimination originated in class society and exploitation. For Africans, African Americans, it is obviously slavery of the past centuries (1619-1863). Unfortunately, white racism of the ruling class has survived the industrial revolution and capitalist democracy, and it is still dominant in class society. On the other hand,
For the ruling class, like any other social discrimination / segregation, racism is a political tool to oppress class enemies.
HONG KONG IS NOW SEEKING ITS SUITABLE NATIONAL SECURITY FILM GENRE FOR THE NEW ERA
In March 2021, producer Wong Jing (1955-) who is well known for the action film franchise Chasing the Dragon (starring Donnie Yen and Andy Lau, 2017) announced that he is working on a script for his new film project about Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement (2019-21).
"I hope that those who have taken the wrong path will take the opportunity to go back to the right path in the future and there will be a ray of hope for the future of Hong Kong cinema. I believe that there will be more and more measures to support patriotic filmmakers in the future, and I suggest that the law should be enforced against those who use government funds or private funds to make films that are anti-China and anti-Hong Kong. Wong Jing also revealed that he is writing a film script reflecting the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement in Hong Kong, "I can't say whether it will be made eventually, but I am indeed writing it. (2)
Nevertheless, a film is not suitable to fully analyse the entire context and pure structure of real social events. And it also inevitably falls into dualism, simplification, personification, demonisation of politically 'incorrect' camp and symbolisation under the capitalist mode of production ('dramatisation'). That is to say, they will scapegoat everything on individual rioters and oppositionists instead of analysing economic causes of the political turmoil.
Hong Kong ideologues / 'artists' must realise that governments, politicians, media, schools and NGOs are the superstructure not their economic base. Any political event should be explained from the economic and material conditions / activities / relations of the society.
Thus it is highly possible and quite risky that Wong Jing (1955-)'s creative attempt and his mainland business 'ambition' would end up with whitewashing ultimate masterminds and true beneficiaries of the violent political campaign. In other words, a national security film would 'unexpectedly' become another national security issue itself.
Besides this, there is other grave concern about the 'Hong Kong film industry' that Taiwan (mainly backed by France and US imperialists) is systematically infiltrating it via the local educational sector and publication sector with luring bait like state subsidies. Their main goal is to brainwash as many mainlander students (the majority of Hong Kong film students) as possible and send them back to mainland for unspeakable political agendas of KMT=DPP (mainly KMT's small circles still monopolise Taiwan's social resources by exclusively dominating leading positions of each industry and the education sector). In general, one channel can be further used by various external forces to infiltrate targets. Once their agents successfully infiltrate one organisation, then they consciously multiply their network by sending more agents to the organisation. They are socially and customarily trained to do the filthy job. Surprisingly, their degree of conciseness is incomparably greater than local Hong Kong citizens.
There are two typical incidents for this discussion: One is the Tsai Ming-Liang v Prof. PakTong CHEUK controversy on republication of the book Cai Mingliang Film Master Class (ISBN:9789882194700, Cosmos Books, January 2012) via Shanghai Yazhong Culture Communication Co., Ltd under the simplified Chinese title 'Yi-nian: Cai Mingliang tan Dianying' in August 2018.
Tsai Ming-liang elaborated that in 2010, at the invitation of the then director of Academy of Film, Baptist University (Hong Kong), PakTong CHEUK, to do nine guest lectures at Baptist University, "the whole process of recording I know, used to, may also have signed a consent for its use in the future for school teaching or research," but whether the publication was mentioned at the time, "no impression at all.'' [...] Another key player in the incident, PakTong CHEUK said in an interview with the Hong Kong media, when inviting Tsai Mingliang to do lectures for which lecture fees paid, lecturers, professors, students have also participated, not Tsai Mingliang's one-man show, not Tsai Mingliang handed him the lecture notes, but after the lecture he asked students to listen to the recording, he made his own revisions many times, Hong Kong lawyers also think it can be published; Tsai Mingliang dissatisfied with the content of the part of the error, he himself probably made those mistakes. What students did was to only transcribe the recording. Moreover, he did not even point out whereabouts of those mistakes. (3)
The entire incident was technically due to Tsai's personality, lack of common sense and improper repackaging of the book by the mainland publisher. It seems that French cultural imperialists bureaucratically created the Frankenstein's monster. In this case, Hong Kong citizens must know that Prof. PakTong CHEUK did not commit any illegal activities on this while it is a general rule that organisers of film lectures or events have ultimate rights for further publication. Tsai was paid, Prof. PakTong CHEUK announced upcoming book publication every time during this kind of film master class at that time. However, politically Tsai cooperated with one of rioting groups Hong Kong Baptist University Students' Union to pressure the school management into early surrender before any trial taken place, 'creating a fait accompli before any law procedure' was a political tactic used on this. Moreover, the founder of the most popular film school in Hong Kong, honourable Prof. PakTong CHEUK was canceled, memory-erased from the film department. This is a typical cancel culture issue originated in Taiwan. After that, some 'lǎo yóu tiáo' KMT agent was sent there to infiltrate the department as guest professor (his successor 'Tsai fan' now in charge of the 'Taipei film school department' contributed to the scandal in August 2018).
For the publishing sector / industry, the most of Chinese books circulating in Hong Kong are from Taiwan, thus possibility or implication of suspension of imports of Taiwan-published books finally threatened the local book publisher. It also explains why so many anti-China/CCP books from Taiwan are still available at book stores in Hong Kong today.
This undeniably indicates Taiwan infiltration / intrusion on Hong Kong film / TV / publishing industries is still ongoing. This is also a warning sign for Macau.
On this specific case, cultural and educational infiltration mean that Taiwan wants to make Hong Kong 'the extension of Taiwan' from the film industry, film education and book publication. It must be prevented in order to preserve the local Hong Kong values and its cultural sovereignty.
Here, one thing must say about the ''Taiwan film industry.'' If KMT's social monopoly of film resources, film education and ''film theories'' are genuinely effective and correct, then they naturally will be supposed to make films totally without exploiting any taxpayers' money (state subsidies). On the contrary, what people can see today is still the opposite. Put more simply, the 'vital film industry' of the Formosa has been extremely dependent on state subsidies since 1949. Here, it must be mentioned that systematically privileged exploitation of the state subsidies for the ruling class is one of the typical neoliberal phenomena. A proper suggestion is that taxpayers' money should be vastly used for enhancing the ailing social security net of the poor Taiwanese workers under neoliberalism. Don't waste taxpayers' money on bureaucratically created parasitic 'auteurs' in the Formosa. This perfectly explains why Taiwanese films are always regrettably unattractive or surprisingly poor quality (fairly speaking not all aspects are inferior to others while undeniably they get good equipment or technicians or marketers imported from Europe, US or Japan).
Instead, Hong Kong should more learn from today's Hollywood not Taiwan. Furthermore, co-production with mainland China is critically important for survival of local Hong Kong filmmaking. Although Taiwan could be a 'personal' advantage of somebody, Mainland China is the biggest 'social' advantage for Hong Kong. Moreover, Taiwan's real target is not the small local market of Hong Kong but it is always entire China. Obviously, Hong Kong will never need to reimport 'parasites' from the Formosa for revitalisation of the industry.
The majorities of well-established filmmakers of Hong Kong are undoubtedly 'oppositionists.' For Taiwan, the most of prominent filmmakers and educators are KMT or its plants (even though some of them claim to be DPP or apolitical) in order to maintain social dominance of KMT. Hence, the true aspect of politics of both Hong Kong and Taiwan can be easily observed from the film industries where 'pro-establishment' is 'opposition'; DPP is KMT in practice. It is not so difficult to be found.
Hong Kong produced many Adam Cramers during anti-China riots. This demonstrates yet again, so called 'infiltrator' is an intruder. Infiltration is intrusion. The film title is precise. The aim of this article is to examine creative interactions between The Intruder (Dir. Roger Corman, 1962) and Hong Kong citizens including respected filmmakers.
NARRATIVE AND AESTHETICS
Exposition: A professional social engineer from the white supremacist organisation The Patrick Henry Society, Adam Cramer (William Shatner) arrives in the fictional Southern town of Caxton in the early 1960s to suspend government's integration program (African Americans' admission to the local school). Then Adam Cramer seeks support from the most powerful local landowner Verne Shipman (Robert Emhardt). Adam Cramer gets acquainted with noisy hotel neighbours Sam Griffin (Leo Gordon) and Vi Griffin (Jeanne Cooper). Adam Cramer also seduces Ella McDaniel (Beverly Lunsford) the teenage daughter of the local newspaper editor Tom McDaniel (Frank Maxwell).
Inciting Incident: Adam Cramer makes a radical racist speech in front of town people at night with help from Verne Shipman. After that, the radicalised mob surrounds and assault an African family who just drive through the town street.
End of ACT1: Tom McDaniel who has growing suspicion about provocative behaviours of Adam Cramer in the town bravely defends the African family from the radicalised racist mob. Unfortunately, the town sheriff is unwilling to arrest every one of them because they outnumber police.
Complication: Next day, Adam Cramer asks Verne Shipman to advertise his racist content via the local newspaper for which Tom McDaniel works as an editor. Because Verne Shipman is a major stockholder of the newspaper, Tom McDaniel has no choice but to publicise it.
Meanwhile, KKK appears. The mob and Adam Cramer stage a cross-burning in the African residential area of the town.
After returns to the Caxton hotel, Adam Cramer seduces Vi Griffin as some kind of self-designated reward. She shamefully leaves Sam Griffin due to the misconduct with him.
Then, KKK members bomb the African church. It further causes horrible death of the faithful African preacher. Subsequently, Adam Cramer is jailed by sheriff yet swiftly bailed out by the mob.
Midpoint: Sam Griffin suddenly appears in Adam Cramer's hotel room to angrily warn him that he knows everything happened between Adam Cramer and Vi Griffin because the hotel owner heard their voices during the night. Besides this, the mob is now in charge of the town affaires not Adam Cramer. Sam Griffin also swears his revenge against Adam Cramer.
Tom McDaniel sympathetically visits one of African students Joey Greene (Charles Barnes)'s house to suggest them to keep attending school no matter what has happened recently. Joey Greene and his family agree with him despite rising tensions between white and black people in the small town.
End of ACT2: Unfortunately, Tom McDaniel is lynched by a mob as a 'traitor.' As a result, he gets severely injured and even loses his right eye. Later Adam Cramer intrudes into his house to threaten Ella McDaniel to false-flag Joey Greene at school.
Final Confrontation: Ella McDaniel follows Adam Cramer's directions to ask Joey Greene to help her moving heavy boxes in the storage room in the school as a rape-allegation pretext. She screams, and members of the mob go to call others.
Solution: The principal and other school management interrogate Ella McDaniel on her rape allegation against Joey Greene. They realise that Ella McDaniel is actually lying about him. Thereafter the raged mob, Adam Cramer and Verne Shipman arrive in front of the school to demand Joey Greene to come out alone. Joey Greene bravely faces the mob but they begin lynching him on the swing seat nearby.
End of ACT3: Sam Griffin brings Ella McDaniel to let her tell the truth to everybody out there. Everything turns out to be a big lie fabricated by Adam Cramer. Therefore, the mob, Verne Shipman lose ground for further instigation and abandon Adam Cramer at the end.
For the narrative structure of this film, it clearly has balanced Three Act Structure yet its focal points are made by direct actions and consequences of the bad guy Adam Cramer as the protagonist (e.g., the midpoint sequence of this film is not directly formed by Adam Cramer alone). The proportion of time among plot points of ACTS does not necessarily determine if a film has Three Act Structure because it is all about development of conflicted actions of major characters themselves. The narrative worked efficiently in this low-budget-film classic produced and directed by Dir. Roger Corman.
Roger Corman & William Shatner on "The Intruder"
For technical and aesthetic aspects, there are impressive and memorable creative solutions in this film. Particularly, Adam Cramer's public speech to radicalise a mob in ACT1, Sam Griffin's first confrontation with Adam Cramer and the lynching scene of Tom McDaniel in ACT2.
1. Adam Cramer's public speech to radicalise a mob
The film editor Ronald Sinclair (1924-1992) made the precise shape match cut between Adam Cramer's extreme close-ups with dolly in/out. What are dolly in/out? See the video below:
Dir. Roger Corman was highly conscious about psychology of a huge crowd that first he took wide shots with as many town extras as possible because they could get bored and tired while waiting for different setups of camera and lighting. The number was declining during shooting. Then he shot tighter wide shots of the crowd and single shots of Adam Cramer. Consequently, the completed sequence is the best example of location shooting.
2. Sam Griffin's first confrontation with Adam Cramer
It looks as though an angle mismatch yet it is deliberately made in order to psychologically correspond to the shift of dramatic tension and impact in the scene. When Sam Griffin (left) counts 5, the editor sharply cuts to the angle of elevation to express that Adam Cramer does not have guts to stand against defenceless Sam Griffin.
3. The lynching scene of Tom McDaniel
This effective editing solution is composed of short smash cuts and reverse cuts in which no one was physically hit or kicked by anyone. It successfully and cinematically created the whole image of 'lynching' by film editing. First, 'crossing the line'(a kind of mismatch that violates the 180 degree imaginary line) between The mob and Tom McDaniel is literally harmonious with the narrative. Hence, it is the conscious editorial technic to depict the painful scene. Second, the editor put short close-ups in which a mob of protesters punching and kicking, then reaction shots of Tom McDaniel.
In conclusion, The Intruder (1962) provides the best model for creating the national security film genre for Hong Kong. Particularly, ideal characters Sam Griffin and Tom McDaniel embodied apolitical conscience of civilisation and democratic human values for society against racism and politically radicalized rioters. Unfortunately, there had been no heroes like Sam Griffin or Tom McDaniel appeared during the already ceased Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement. To look at this another way, there was no one from the so called 'pro-establishment' camp or self-proclaimed 'patriots' to stand against the radicalised mob during that dark period. Instead, what the con artists actually did were only PR campaigns and self-advertisements via social network service from their comfortable luxury houses while lives of poor citizens were in danger or destroyed by the mob. It means that reality is much worse than fictional reality of a film. In other words, controlled narrative is always idealised, crystallised, one-sided and abstracted even in the form of live action films while reality itself is dialectically multi-layered and uncontrollable. The ruling class only can control social interpretation of reality not reality itself. This is why fictional works cannot be used as a text book of real society or replace any social movement itself.
https://www.history.com, History.com Editors, A&E Television Networks, (November 12, 2009) 'Slavery in America.' Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
https://china.huanqiu.com, Global Times, (March 6, 2021) '香港導演王晶：用政府基金拍反中亂港電影，就該依法打擊！' Available at: https://china.huanqiu.com/article/42CGFf8NGlY
https://ent.ltn.com.tw, Liberty Times, (August 19, 2018) '蔡明亮「被出書」微博連載表達不滿 終得浸大道歉.' Available at: https://ent.ltn.com.tw/news/breakingnews/2524556
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