May 5, 2011

Making Bin Laden an offer he couldn't refuse

An idyllic mountain retreat, verdant and green. A compound hidden behind high stone walls, within which children play, and women prepare meals for the men. One man in particular, quiet and gentle-seeming, who come seeking shelter from his violent past. You would not know it to look at him, from the way the children play at his feet, or the tenderness he bestows on one of the women, but this man is feared by the world over for his ruthlessness and cunning. He has lived his life by a code of violence which necessitates an existence in the shadowlands, but he knows deep down, that sooner or later his past will catch up with him, in a scene of stunning violence which leaves this idyll shattered and his family slaughtered.... Ah yes, the Sicilian car-bomb scene in The Godfather, most mythically predictive of all epics. Maureen Down calls Obama's execution of Osama "cinematic" but neglects to mention that it's Bin Laden's life that is the more cinematic, not least its penultimate act. The Economist:-
"Somewhere, according to one of his five wives, was a man who loved sunflowers, and eating yogurt with honey; who took his children to the beach, and let them sleep under the stars; who enjoyed the BBC World Service and would go hunting with friends each Friday, sometimes mounted, like the Prophet, on a white horse."
For as every armchair scenarist knows, a life of atrocity-fuelled pathology must be capped with a penultimate idyll, a brief arborial retreat, a last supper of sorts — Michael Corleone's Sicilian retreat, Mark Anthony forcing his men to drink 'til "the wine peep through their scars" in Shakespeare's Anthony & Cleopatra, the final visit to the whorehouse by William Holden and his men in The Wild Bunch. The Daily Mail even reports Bin Laden giving a rabbit to a kid who came to retrieve his cricket ball. I mean, c'mon. If Osama didn't hand over that bunny with a certain lingering wistfulness, exchanging looks with the kid in a way that suggested he knew what was coming to him, and right then wanted more than anything for that bunny to enjoy the long life that was about to be denied him, then I don't know movies.

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