May 6, 2013

Power displays itself interestingly in the human species. Enough is never enough. Perhaps it is its mere exercise which captivates the beholder into creating a world that bows to them, prostrates to their self as if it is some invulnerability. How quaint, then. As Solomon was solemnly reminded, this too shall pass.


But until its passing is its manifested corruption in the nature of mankind. True, there are the virtuous, which are capable of imposing a world, a society, where they are its epicenter; where they are God among men; yet are cognizant of their own humanity and choose otherwise. Yet as often captured dramatically, we have the inverted: common men who attain power over their brothers and believe it to be an end in itself.


Chinatown slowly reveals this certainty in its narrative. Yet what is also cleverly captured is the invisibility of such power in how it morphs society. Giddes recalls his days in Chinatown, but he does not reflect on the corruption of power in that district. Only that, the district itself was a glaring pox on the city. Things happen there which scar you as a person. “It’s Chinatown,” the film concludes.


Is this the nature of man, however? Is he condemned, like Chinatown is, to imperfection? Certainly this is the case when powerful members of society are also the most corrupt. But is this guaranteed? Is this simply the facts of human reality?


The entire plot centers, but again does not dwell, on the nature of the aim for power and domination. Utterly simian desires as ends, we feel the primate ancestry of humanity breathing on the pictures captioned by the story. Giddes is simply an “honest man”. He wants no part in the pursuit for power which enchants the minds of men for millennia. Indeed he is an honest man in that case. His ends are not for power.


We do not know what his motivations are. The Long Goodbye portrayed a much more exaggeratedly honest detective. Giddes is a bit more conniving. His ideals are made cloudier in this regard. Nevertheless, he has the same moral compass for justice: he wants society to work ideally, while it is thwarted by those who enjoy the status quo of Chinatown.


Grade: A



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