2012年12月11日

真珠湾2.0


Pearl Harbor 2.0
( TIME )

The “infamy” of December 7, 1941, is deeper than most Americans
have ever imagined. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was almost
certainly the result of a Soviet plot --“Operation Snow”-- carried
out by Harry Dexter White, a figure of enormous influence in the
Roosevelt administration and a known Soviet spy.

Americans remember Pearl Harbor as the work of a Japanese military
machine hell-bent on a war of conquest. The truth is more complicated.

The Russians, meanwhile, knew that they could not simultaneously
repel an expected German invasion from the west and respond to the
Japanese threat from the east. A series of skirmishes with the
Japanese at Nomonhan in 1939 had revealed serious weaknesses in the
Soviet military.

The NKVD, predecessor of the KGB, knew that a war with the United
States would divert Japan from its ambitions in Mongolia and Siberia
--t hreats that tied up 25% of the Red Army -- and allow Russia to
deploy its full military power against the Germans. Fortunately for
Stalin, his intelligence service had an “agent of influence” in
Washington perfectly situated to provoke a U.S.-Japanese war -- Harry
Dexter White, a high-ranking Treasury official.

Fearing exposure, White temporarily gave up his subversive
activities. But in May 1941, as the non-aggression pact between
Hitler and Stalin began to unravel, NKVD agent Vitalii Pavlov managed
to reactivate White with an urgent mission -- to provoke a war
between the United States and Japan so that Russia would not have to
fight on two fronts.

From his perch in the Treasury Department, White had become closely
acquainted with the key figures in FDR’s administration. He knew,
for instance, that Stanley Hornbeck, the State Department’s expert
on Asia, hated the Japanese and believed that Asians were naturally
timid and easily bluffed. And White wielded enormous influence with
his boss, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthal Jr., whose
personal friendship with the president made him the most powerful
member of the cabinet.

Skillfully manipulating Morgenthau and Hornbeck, White was able to
turn U.S. policy toward Japan in an increasingly belligerent
direction. When FDR almost agreed to relax a U.S. oil embargo in
return for Japan’s gradual evacuation of China, White drafted a
hysterical letter for Morgenthau’s signature:

To sell China to her enemies for the thirty blood-stained coins of
gold, will not only weaken our national policy in Europe as well as
the Far East, but will dim the bright luster of America’s world
leadership in the great democratic fight against Fascism.

Instead of compromising, the United States demanded that Japan
withdraw from China immediately, neutralize Manchuria, and sell
three-quarters of its military and naval production to the U.S.

Perceiving the demand as an insult and a threat, the skittish
Japanese government concluded that war was inevitable. They moved
ahead with a contingency plan for an attack on the Pacific Fleet at
Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, and Stalin, thanks to Harry Dexter
White, were spared a war on his eastern flank.

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2012年11月30日

ハラハラドキドキをごめん ヒッチコック映画の印象的な場面ベスト10


Nail-Biting Allowed: Alfred Hitchcock’s 10 Most Memorable Scenes
( TIME )

Pretty much any movie buff worth his or her popcorn can point to a
slew of directors rightly celebrated not only for their enduring
films, but for the artistry and attention they lavish on specific,
utterly indelible scenes. Kubrick comes to mind, as does Malick.
Spielberg, of course. Kurosawa, Fellini, Scorsese. But no director in
the history of the medium can lay claim to helming as many signature
movie moments as Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock. In fact, devoted
moviegoers can reel off a litany of immortal scenes from any one of
Hitch’s greatest films -- Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho and so
many others -- that live on, vividly, in the memory years after we
first encountered them.

Here, as a new biopic based on Hitchcock comes to the screen -- with
Anthony Hopkins filling the rotund role -- we’ve resisted the urge
to salute, say, the 25 or 50 greatest scenes in his career and
instead have selected the 10 most memorable moments from 10 of the
Master of Suspense’s most admired films. Let the nail-biting begin.

Judy Becomes Madeleine in Vertigo

None of Hitchcock’s movies are as viscerally unsettling as Vertigo,
and no scene in that greatest of all his films is more deeply, eerily
moving than the “green neon” one that unfolds in a cheap San
Francisco hotel. When the obsessed and heartsick Scottie (James
Stewart) sees Judy (Kim Novak) emerge, ghostlike, from another room
-- lit by an awful, green neon light outside the window and dressed
and coiffed exactly like another woman, Madeleine, with whom Scottie
fell in love -- the palpable jolt of passion that passes between the
two is unlike anything else that Hitchcock ever filmed. The raw
sexual hunger in Scottie’s eyes when he sees Judy/Madeleine standing
before him, in the flesh, is … well, it’s vertiginous.

The Shower Scene in Psycho

Watch it as many times as you like. Study it. Analyze it. Dissect it.
However many ways one approaches this scene -- arguably the single
most famous in cinema history -- something about it defies
explanation. Something about it, more than 50 years after it was
shot, invests this awful scenario with a power out of all proportion
to its constituent parts. Any discussion, meanwhile, has to start
with the myriad elements that Hitchcock employed in order to depict
what is, in the end, a drawn-out act of savagery -- the murder of
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). Consider the suddenness of the attack;
composer Bernard Herrmann’s violins and cellos screeching along with
Marion’s shrieks of shock and fear; the seemingly manic -- but, in
fact, meticulously plotted -- editing; Marion’s literally naked, and
thus profoundly unnerving, vulnerability. Everything in this scene,
which took seven days and more than 70 individual shots to complete,
has been added to the mix with a single purpose in mind: to terrify.
And it does. If one scene can be said to have changed the movies
forever, the shower scene in Psycho is it.

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2012年04月27日

世界で最も影響力のある100人


The 100 Most Influential People in the World
( TIME )

Xi Jinping

The past 20 years have been a golden age for China, a time when it
built shining cities, lifted millions out of poverty and strutted its
stuff as the new century's anointed superpower.

But the China that Xi Jinping, 58, will lead when -- if all goes to plan
-- he becomes China's President in the fall is also a fretful place.
In coming years, its economy will probably not grow at the pace that
Chinese have come to expect. And the extraordinary fall of Bo Xilai,
the Chongqing party secretary, has shattered the carapace of political
stability that the Communist Party has been at such pains to polish
since 1989.

Can Xi steer his nation to be less defensive abroad and less dependent
on a creaking economic model at home, all while maintaining party rule
and a confined political life? Some doubt it. Xi is the modern Chinese
establishment personified, the son of a colleague of Mao Zedong's and
the husband of Peng Liyuan, one of China's best- known singers. But
perhaps it is those who know China's structure best who will be able to
find the flexibility to cope with the changes that are surely coming.

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2012年03月30日

拒めない記念日 知られざる「ゴッドファーザー」40の逸話


The Anniversary You Can't Refuse: 40 Things You Didn't Know About The
Godfather
( TIME )

・Until His Incredible Screen Test

Knowing Marlon Brando would never submit to a formal screen test,
Francis Ford Coppola brought a portable camera to Brando’s home,
telling him they wanted to “try out some things” on tape. According
to one account of the legendary test, Brando was wearing a kimono and
had his long hair pulled back. Slowly, he transformed himself into the
older don, blackening his hair, (supposedly with shoe polish) and
stuffing Kleenex into his lower cheeks to look like a bulldog. Brando
then puffed on a cigar and mumbled quietly, exuding his famous screen
aura.

When Coppola and producer Albert Ruddy showed the studio executives the
footage, they initially didn’t know it was Marlon Brando. Stanley
Jaffe, the studio head who had sworn Brando would never be in the
picture, reluctantly agreed, and the headline in the Hollywood trade
paper Variety proclaimed, “No Stars for Godfather Cast -- Just Someone
Named Brando.”

・The Horse Head

It could be said of so many movie moments, but describing the horse-
head scene as one of the most iconic in American film history is no
exaggeration. It was already famous from the book -- only in Mario
Puzo’s novel, the horse’s head was on the bedpost when Jack Woltz
wakes up. Audiences rose up in anger over the death of the horse, and
many asked if it were a real animal head.

Yes, it was. The studio had encouraged Francis Ford Coppola to use a
fake horse head, but he didn’t like the mock-up. His scouts found a
horse ready for slaughter at a dog-food plant in New Jersey. The art
director picked one that looked like the horse in the film and said,
“When that one is slaughtered, send us the head.” Coppola later
remembered, “One day, a crate with dry ice came with this horse’s
head in it.”

・The Score Was Honored (and Then Rejected) by the Oscars

Nino Rota, an Italian composer who had a fruitful creative partnership
with director Federico Fellini (Rota composed the scores for La Strada,
Night of Cabiria, 8 1/2), was chosen as The Godfather‘s composer in
order to give it a true Italian feeling. His score became an essential
piece of the film, and its spare trumpet opening and lush love theme
have become two of American cinema’s more famous pieces of music.
Though nominated for an Oscar, Rota’s score was subsequently
withdrawn, because part of the love theme had previously appeared
(albeit in a more jaunty form) in the 1958 Italian comedy Fortunella.

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2011年12月20日

抗議する人〜タイム今年の人〜


The Protester
( TIME )

Once upon a time, when major news events were chronicled strictly by
professionals and printed on paper or transmitted through the air by
the few for the masses, protesters were prime makers of history. Back
then, when citizen multitudes took to the streets without weapons to
declare themselves opposed, it was the very definition of news --
vivid, important, often consequential. In the 1960s in America they
marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; in the '70s, they
rose up in Iran and Portugal; in the '80s, they spoke out against
nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Europe, against Israeli occupation of
the West Bank and Gaza, against communist tyranny in Tiananmen Square
and Eastern Europe. Protest was the natural continuation of politics by
other means.

And then came the End of History, summed up by Francis Fukuyama's
influential 1989 essay declaring that mankind had arrived at the "end
point of ... ideological evolution" in globally triumphant "Western
liberalism." The two decades beginning in 1991 witnessed the greatest
rise in living standards that the world has ever known. Credit was
easy, complacency and apathy were rife, and street protests looked like
pointless emotional sideshows -- obsolete, quaint, the equivalent of
cavalry to mid-20th-century war. The rare large demonstrations in the
rich world seemed ineffectual and irrelevant.

It began in Tunisia, where the dictator's power grabbing and high
living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of
government callousness against an ordinary citizen -- a 26-year-old
street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi -- became the final straw.
Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles
south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set
out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi
routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump
through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him
grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him.
He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and
got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and
lit a match.

"My son set himself on fire for dignity," Mannoubia Bouazizi told me
when I visited her.

"In Tunisia," added her 16-year-old daughter Basma, "dignity is more
important than bread."

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