Friday, December 30, 2016

"Goodwill to Men"

       Last year around this time, I featured "Peace on Earth," a classic anti-war animated short from 1939. The short left an indelible mark on me as a child because of its frightening depiction of humanity destroying itself in an apocalyptic conflict reminiscent of the First World War. The short probably struck me hard because of the End Times obsession frequent exhibited at the christian school I attended. It is probably also y affinity for history. Whichever the case, I still look up the short fro time to time on YouTube even now.
       There is a remake of “Peace on Earth” embedded above. It was made in 1955 and updated from a First World War style conflict to a Cold War turning hot conflict. In other words, instead of the two last soldiers on earth killing each other with the implication all civilian populations have been wiped out, “Goodwill to Men” features the bomb directly dropped on innocent men, women, and children. The children of the mid-'50were already immersed in the threat of bomb shelters, duck and cover, and nuclear attack., but “Goodwill to Men'” would scare the daylights out of anyone.
       “Goodwill to Men” has even stronger christian themes, probably due to the enemy at this point being the Godless commies. While “Peace on Earth” referred loosely to the Bible as a book of rules and noted “Thou shall not kill” specifically, “Goodwill to Men” cite both the Old and New Testament.
       In spite of the more pronounced Christian themes, “Peace on Earth” resonates more with me than dos “Goodwill to Men.” The difference could be it is simply not as good as “Peace on Earth,” Most critics and animation fans admit it is not. It may also be a matter of crying wolf. I first saw “Goodwill to Men” in the '80's. It is difficult to fret over a thirty year old warning about dropping the bomb, but the kind of major armed conflict over politics, religion, or resources like in “Peace on Earth” always seemed like a possibility. It still does.
       Even though “Goodwill to Men'” is not as good as "Peace on Earth,” I still like it and think it is worth a view. This time of the year always brings about a sense of finality before rebirth. In some years, the sense of rebirth is more optimistic than other. But 2016 is not one of those years. The world is in upheaval against its old order. We have only seen hints of the results fro events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump We may not even see much result n 2017. But there is a noticeable apprehension in the air as the new year creeps upon us. I, for one, cannot help but rewatch “Peace on Earth” and “Goodwill to Men” with a morbid curiosity for what the future holds.              

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