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December 1993
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Monthly Archives: December 1993

Philadelphia (1993)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

CAST:

Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas, Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward, Mary Steenburgen, Bradley Whitford, Charles Napier, Daniel von Bargen

REVIEW:

AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome) emerged as a major crisis in the early 80s but was largely ignored into the beginning of the 90s in the United States even though the US had more cases than any other nation. Educational programs were well underway in Europe, but US politicians gave it low priority, and President Ronald Reagan did not mention it in a speech until 1987. By that time there were 51,000 cases in 113 countries. Reagan’s administration resisted congressional efforts and the crusading of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to increase funds for AIDS research and prevention. To many Americans, AIDS was a ‘gay disease’ and was not considered a subject for polite conversation due to its (exaggerated) association with homosexuality. Media treatment focused on the relatively few heterosexuals who had contracted the disease through blood transfusions. This partially changed in 1985, when archetypal Hollywood leading man Rock Hudson announced that he was gay and dying of AIDS. Hudson died in October of that year, leaving $250,000 to an AIDS research foundation, and while the revelation that a popular celebrity was infected prompted more coverage of the shamefully ignored plight of thousands of infected homosexuals, many Americans continued to inaccurately view AIDS as a disease which only pertained to homosexuals, who were largely viewed with indifference or even considered to deserve it. Despite its status as the worst epidemic of modern times, it was the subject of extraordinary ignorance and fear, with infected individuals ostracized and even attacked by others who believed incorrectly that you could contract it through casual contact. The epidemic peaked in 1993, the same year of a second step forward in AIDS awareness, director Jonathan Demme’s (The Silence of the Lambs) flawed but courageous and socially important drama Philadelphia. Continue reading

Schindler’s List (1993)

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

CAST:

Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Embeth Davidtz, Caroline Goodall

REVIEW:

Oskar Schindler was an unlikely hero. German businessman and war profiteer, womanizer, slave laborer, and a member of the Nazi Party with prominent friends within the SS, he happily moved in on the heels of the conquering German Army and set up an enamelware factory in occupied Krakow, taking advantage of cheap Polish-Jewish labor in the service of the Third Reich. Yet coming into such close contact with Jews at a time when his own government was implementing plans for their total annihilation seems to have lit a spark of humanity within the opportunistic Schindler, and by the Nazis’ downfall in 1945, he had bankrupted himself and his factory and endured repeated arrests by the Gestapo to bring nearly 1,200 Polish Jews safely through the war and the simultaneously blazing Holocaust. This German war profiteer and nominal Nazi had saved more Jews than any other individual. And yet, for decades afterward, his story, and theirs, remained largely untold. Continue reading

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

DIRECTOR: Walter Hill

CAST: Jason Patric, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Wes Studi, Matt Damon, Rodney A. Grant, Kevin Tighe

REVIEW:

While its title might be simply Geronimo, a more accurate name for this movie might be The Geronimo Campaign.  Walter Hill, not a stranger to the Western genre, directs this chronicle of the “Geronimo Campaign” in which famed Apache war leader Geronimo, with 34 men, managed to elude 5,000 US cavalry troops between 1885 and 1886 before his surrender in September 1886.  Continue reading

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