AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

6/13/08

THE VISITOR

Tom McCarthy


Plot:
Walter Vale (Richard Jerkins from the TV series Six Feet Under) is a white male College economics professor who lives alone in a comfortable middle class home in Connecticut. He is seeking to revitalize his life through learning the piano, an instrument that wife had championed before she died.

But Walter experiences this emotional rebirth not through the sound of her piano music but through his newly formed friendship with an immigrant couple from the Third World who are living illegally in his Manhattan apartment.

The male half of the couple, a Syrian conga drum player named Tarek, encourages Vale to take up the drums after he surprises Vale playing them one afternoon. The movie’s plot focused on the immigrant male’s incarceration in a New York detention center, located in Queens, where Tarek is placed due to a misunderstanding at the New York Transit turnstile where the police accuse him of violating the law “theft of service”.

Commentary:
The ultra punitive legal system put into place by the Clinton administration and tightened with the arrival of George Bush as President has not been as poignantly exposed to public scrutiny until the release of this film


Unfortunately, this depiction of our political /legal underpinning is only the tip of the iceberg. But nonetheless, the film’s statement of helplessness when faced with the law enforcement machinery imposed by those who want to protect us from “the terrorist” is brutal and unforgettable.

It is only one step away from how we might all be treated one day and that reality is hard to ignore while watching the almost comical fantasy story of how the white intellectual burnt out college professor becomes involved with a struggling immigrant couple and tries to save them with the lawyer hired and the pleas of “he didn’t do anything wrong ” falling on deaf ears.

This is a real life situation, a real prison without windows or yard for that mandatory time outside. This is the world where people disappear for no cause and the cruelty of the guard saying over and over again, “move away from the window” is torturous. This is the reality we might all have to deal with and we know it while the music plays to the sound of the drums beating. The fantasy of love and liking one another, wishing each other the best and trying to help out (all those beautiful thoughts), crumble when faced with the reality of the alienated man in an alienated world.

I did not cry during the film. I didn’t feel much of anything. But when it was over I felt the horror of the plot, the desperate fear that is a part of my personal make up, intensified. So this is what life will be like unless…………….

The Visitor must be seen, digested and remembered. Maybe the next President will take the initiative to ease these draconian laws, destroy these prisons and the attenuating corruption and bring back a semblance of humanity to this all too fragile country.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
and
RT: Witches Brew

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