Baz and Empire?
I was reading the New Yorker on the train today, and after I finished the excellent profile of Naomi KleinÂ byÂ Larissa MacFarquhar I turned to The Current Cinema. Â I think Anthony Lane can be churlishly anachronistic in a brilliant way, but both he and David Denby seem to be commenting on film from their own cultural islands (not Manhattan, even though I worry that a large percentage of New Yorker readers agree with them). Â This history of annoyance received another stratum when I read Denby’s review of “Frost/Nixon.” Â His review leads me to believe that he hadn’t even readÂ John Lahr’s profile of the play’s writer, Peter Morgan, from the very same magazine only last year, and that he can’t step outside of the box of literalism. Â Doesn’t it mean something that such a play would be produced precisely when the world was again dealing with a U.S. president whose gleeful weaseling around the constitution seemed frustratingly to be met with practically no consequence?
Whatever. Â Here’s the point of this post. Â Check out how Denby finishes his review of Baz Luhrmann’s new film, Australia:
Nullah’s disappearance into the desert, leaving the whites behind, is framed as a triumphant anti-colonial moment, but Luhrmann confuses the issue by accompanying the scene with, of all things, the stirring “Nimrod” passage from “Enigma Variations,” by Edward Elgar, the composer perhaps most closely associated with the glories of empire. Â With the same degree of appropriateness, Luhrmann might celebrate Barack Obama’s Inauguration with a thundering rendition of “Dixie.”
Yes, Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1″ is also known as “Land of Hope and Glory” which gives credence to the composer as emblem of empire, but Dixie? Â That seems a bit unsophisticated. Â What do you think?