Nobody captures the dystopian scènes à faire like the Irish, and Samuel Beckett is one of the best. Beckett is probably most well known for Waiting for Godot, but the collaboration between Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Channel 4, and the Irish Film Board adapting several of Beckett’s shorts as films first aired in 2001. The project, Beckett on Film, was prohibitively expensive for even the wealthiest of our members, but a well written request to a library in North-Central Florida put the entire series at our fingertips. Until recently, however, our favorite shorts were not available online.
Play, set in the barren landscape of Beckett’s devastatingly rendered purgatory, witnesses the three corners of a love triangle repeating their stories as quickly as possible to satiate a spotlight that fixates on each of them in turn. This adaption is faithful to Beckett’s stage directions, repeating itself so quickly that a casual observer might not recognize the eternal loop implied by the characters’ repetition.
The late Alan Rickman is at his finest delivering some of Beckett’s more memorable lines such as, “adulterers take warning, never admit,” and “she had a razor in her vanity bag.” Nearly every line in this dense piece is worth digesting. Beckett rewards multiple readings, and this adaptation rewards multiple viewings.
While not strictly dystopian, this Alan Cumming short evokes Brazil and is punctuated with dark undercurrents. Alan Cumming, he’s so much fun. He makes my bathtime so much fun. Alan Cumming, we’re awfully found of you.
Others Will Followis a well produced s.f. short film by Andrew Finch that is well worth nine minutes of your life. It is the inspirational sister short to a music video produced by one of our more talented members roughly one year ago.
Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech, written for Nixon to deliver if the men aboard Apollo 11 were stranded on the moon. Written by Bill Safire, the speech is dated July 18, 1969 and titled: IN EVENT OF MOON DISASTER. We took an office poll, and we agree that Stanislaw Lem should have been consulted, but the speech does include helpful stage directions such as “PRIOR TO THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT: The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.” (emphasis added). Safire also suggested that “[a] clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to ‘the deepest of the deep,’ concluding with the Lord’s Prayer.” Sounds deep huh?
Safire worked as a PR executive from 1955 to 1960, which reminds us of the line HST wrote while covering the ’72 election and particularly the McGovern campaign against Nixon: “The assholes who run politics in this country have become so mesmerized by the Madison Avenue school of campaigning that they actually believe, now, that all it takes to become a Congressman or a Senator–or even a President–is a nice set of teeth, a big wad of money, and a half-dozen Media Specialists.” Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 56-57 (Simon & Schuster 2012) (1973). Guess what Hunter? They do not even need nice teeth anymore. Others have followed.
Safire, we should note, later distinguished himself as an actual journalist, and wrote a column for the New York Times in an “exercise in restrained fury” upon learning that Nixon had authorized the FBI to wiretap “the home telephones of 17 men–four newsmen and 13 Government officials–to find out why classified information had appeared in the press and to prevent future leaks.” William Safire, The Suspicious 17, N.Y. Times, Aug. 9, 1973. If Safire wrote this essay in “restrained fury,” we would love to see his screenplays. Our favorite passage almost reads like HST:
For myself, I cannot go along with this fraternal silence of the suspicious 17. I did not knock myself loose for Mr. Nixon in 1959 and 1960, and then cast my lot with him through the long, arid comeback years of 1965 through 1968, to have him–or some lizard-lidded paranoid acting in his name without his approval–eavesdropping on my conversations.
Id. Both HST and Safire sound quaint in their then scathing appraisals of political SOP. Seventeen whole people huh? Home phone lines tapped eh? Sounds terrible.
Safire ended his column with a furious but restrained question aimed at Nixon: “Does the President realize that there are tapes and transcripts of his own conversations with aides now in the files of the F.B.I. out of his control, taken years before he began taping himself?” Id. Yes, he probably did, but he probably did not care. As Nixon told David Frost, “[w]hen the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” We have some attorneys on our membership rolls, and we have been advised that is not strictly accurate. It still took roughly fifty years for strong evidence to surface supporting the long suspected fact that Nixon fucking sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to end the conflict in Vietnamsolely to help Nixon’s campaign efforts. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of god, we read that somewhere, but some fall a little shorter than others.
As stated above, Others Will Follow is a hopeful version of what one of our members might have produced if she was not, well, one of us. Her music video for Overlord’s track Mission to Mars tells the story of an astronaut purposefully taking a one-way trip to the red planet. It is inspirational in its own way.
The footage of Mars appearing in the music video below was, incredibly, shot without any special effects at a red rock quarry in Pennsylvania. Our comrade also, incredibly, got permission to film in a decommissioned naval facility housing a REAL HUMAN CENTRIFUGE. The track is great, and the video just won “Best of the Fest” at the Bucks Fever Film Festival. Look for Mission to Mars at film festivals across the country in the near future. After ranting about Nixon and reading the almost darling outrage of HST and Safire, I almost feel like I am the astronaut in Mission to Mars. How bad did Sam Rockwell have it in Moon?
I hope this is what teenagers are into these days. Aside from the music and the ill-fitting heteronormative message appended to this video, this short has some rad Congress-type animation and encourages children (primary demographic?) to think critically, or, at least, keep the faith.