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Hanna: An “Alternative” Movie Review (as more interesting and informative than your typical valedictorian speech).
by Dave Dense
18 May 2011
This review is not meant to give you all the typical facts and highlights of the movie. Standard movie reviewers have already presented their perspectives, the basic story line. Whereas this essay is meant to take more seriously what is really a rather stupid plot, but still within a beautiful movie and action packed piece of entertainment, and to speculate how it may fit “within” the too often vacuous audience culture that might watch it, as well as the movie industry that created it and critiqued it. And, granted, it is often presumptuous to interpret a work of art as something that can be criticized as more subjectively serious—but the idea of juxtaposing a fairy tale with CIA operatives is just too tempting to “not” deconstruct.
Hanna: An “Alternative” Movie Review (as more interesting and informative than your typical valedictorian speech).
By Dave Dense
Hanna is a 16-year-old killing machine trained by her father to be a super-soldier/ super-spy assassin. Her father Erik (Eric Bana) now is considered to be a “rogue asset” for the CIA (presumably a previously trained special agent) and is also considered dangerous. So is his daughter, as trained assassin, considered a danger to the Agency (or at least to one “bitch” of an employee there who seems to share several of Hanna’s characteristics).
[Note: This review is not meant to give you all the typical facts and highlights of the movie. Standard movie reviewers have already presented their perspectives, the basic story line, and its several notable features. (Feel free to read a few to get the story and the media’s interpretation.) Whereas this essay is meant to take more seriously what is really a rather stupid plot, as story line, but still within a beautiful movie and action packed piece of entertainment, and to speculate how it may fit “within” the too often vacuous audience culture that might watch it, as well as the movie industry that created it and critiqued it. And, granted, it is often presumptuous to interpret a work of art as something that can be criticized as more subjectively serious, or to pretend to see things probably never intended—but the idea of juxtaposing a fairy tale with CIA operatives is just too tempting to “not” deconstruct. That is to say that even a dumb plot about a culture of intelligence work may be instructive.]
The “fairy” threads of this suspense story come in basically two forms. First, Hanna (played by Saoirse Ronan (pronounced 'Sur-shuh') is noted in other reviews for her “porcelain” skin and “delicate” feminine girlish look. Fairy lore has long noted the “ethereal” and “hypnotic” beauty of fairies such as those of the Tuatha de Danann (tootha day danan) of Ireland. (And yet “few,” if any, professional movie reviews made note of her “blonde” hair—which as much part of fairyland of northern Europe as any singular feature—even the creaminess of the skin.)
[As an aside, but perhaps an important comment to this first thread of a fairy tale theme is that “many,” if not “most” fairies, at least in Western fairy lore, were of the female gender, and equally many, but not all, were blonde. Also it seems instructive to realize that some characteristics of fairy people were related to adjectives like “fluidity” and “fun” (as opposed to “rigidity” and “hostility; ” as “fairy” (from fate) is, at least on a psychological level, really a synonym for the word “fantasy,” and one only browse any number of fashion magazines, or erotic magazines and films, etc., to know that blonde women are fantasized about—and this is not disputable claim—it is part of fairy lore (still which is not to argue fairies were considered to be blonde or Teutonic—or that the very essence of fairy fate has much to do with physical attributes or specific race of people.)
The second thread of fairy tale in this movie is related to Hanna’s upbringing in some remote wilderness of a wild, wintery, and snow-white, Finland, that is out-in-the-wild where reindeer live. Hanna is raised solely but her father “isolated” from civilization, save what he teaches her about the world and how to be a the kind of person he thinks she should be. So he raises her to hunt, to kill and skin animals, to fight like a martial artist expert, and to shoot weapons etc. In another words she has the training, as a child, of that even the most “macho” of special forces adult males would dream of being able to perform, as lethal weapon with jugular instinct to kill. (Not exactly your typical fairy imagine of flowery and dainty flower child or pot-smoking hippie.)
Yet ironically the director, Joe Wright, in an interview, said that he: “…hopes the PG-13 film’s portrayal of a teenager, completely uninfluenced by society’s notions of how women are supposed to look and behave, will speak to younger audiences” and: … “I hope it will make them think a little bit, evaluate celebrity culture and the general consensus to conform.” Yes, how ironic, that the idea of a girl-child being trained to be a macho assassin for some unspecified mission related to her mother being murdered by that bitch at the CIA (even if she doesn’t wear makeup and still looks hypnotically attractive) is now supposedly a healthy notion of what feminism and equality was all about?
But she is not just a grunt—no. She is taught, at least, three languages by her father. But she has access to two kinds of book—an adult set of an encyclopedia and a copy of the 1812 Grimm’s Fairy Tales (from Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm brothers, the same brothers who also wrote: “The German Heroic Tale”.) But this fairy book is as close as Hanna gets to a childhood life, which at least allows her occasional glimpses into a fictional life of some fancy. Hence the show is booked as a brutal and modern day fairy tale, as even Wright declares the movie “rectifies” fairy lore back to the horror story as opposed to childish notions.
Hanna, however, has little time for childish notions, as fiction, out there as feral child, unlike the “civilized” adults who willingly adhere to many fictions, such as all the fictionalized fairy tales of the Bible, and equally the many myths about how great is American and Jewish exceptionalism. Hanna has one long childhood of “rigorous” training to be like an adult—but not any adult, but a spy/ soldier assassin, which requires much, much, learning for eventual success of a mission. (It is kind of like the story about John Stuart Mill being trained by his father to read Latin and Greek Classics before most kids started kindergarten at the age of five.) Only she is not taking walks with her father rather he stalks her to surprise attack her so she learns to constantly react to danger.
(But here we note that one additional fairy “tale” in this movie, as implied as a preconceived conceit, is the idea that one can fluently learn a second or third language without being exposed to cultures and the people who actually speak the languages. And this too correlates to the naive notion that one can readily understand and memorize an entire encyclopedia out there in the wild, and that such a momentous task is good preparation for dealing with real life situations as “intelligence” methodology. Yet these kinds of zombie notions about education are what Americans bank on, especially when they attack teachers and school systems for being the “problem” to the U.S. educational system. (But hey intelligence agencies “need” people who can absorb knowledge and speak different languages so it makes for tall tales.)
The serious question that could have been asked by movie reviewers (those that actually get paid to write such things) is why is this father figure is raising a girl to fight and kill and then to have a “transponder” switch, that he has been keeping around for presumably years, which when finally triggered will bring CIA special SWAT teams into the hinterlands of Finland to track down both this same father and his daughter so as to kill or capture the both of them because the witch Marissa (Cate Blanchett) has been waiting for such a signal for years? (Nothing odd in the non-logic of this half-baked story?) There is little on the Internet about the screenplay writers?
Instead this question is covered away by drama queen Marissa (Blanchett dollied-up with high-strung fairy glamour of intelligence stereotype) scowling and snaring like a mean old wolf wanting to taste Goldie Locks. She seems some big shot at CIA HQs, where she explains to top level decision makers the need to find and destroy both the father Erik and Hanna—or “secrets” could get out—one being that Hanna was part of a DNA genetic program to select for genes to produce a “super” species of soldier/ spies who are stronger, have more stamina, are less empathetic, yet remain highly intelligent—kind of like the stereotype of a wolf in the wild.
In another words the Third Reich’s propaganda of a “superior” Aryan race is all over this movie but again “none” of your movie critics so much as mention this dimension to the movie, save to a fleeting references to “Teutonic” and “Berlin” where the movie will rendezvous—naturally to a fairy theme park where the brother of Erik, also a handsome brunette, who seems in a fleeting way, to represent the character of a clown, but really a man who has the Humanities’ humanity such as an appreciation for art, laughter, music, dance, but is brutally tortured (not on screen as witnessed thank goodness) by a “blonde,” effeminate, sexually ambiguous, psychopath who apparently takes his cruelty and murder much as sport.
(And it is worth noting this normally brunette actor, as mercenary Isaacs (Tom Hollander) in this movie bleach-dyed his hair blonde for this movie as special effect. Why? If the fairies were thought as “fluidity” and “fun” this implies they were creatures who enjoyed the sentiments of humanity—that is the arts, and had the ability and propensity to laugh, to sing and to dance, etc. Equally, in the fairy world the dimensions of sexuality and gender are not rigid as black and white. There was no Judeo-Christian condemnation of eroticism in general or an androgynous nature in particular. But somehow the blonde “male” here is portrayed as a sexual “pervert” who has a torture streak that doesn’t end? (Still how funny that how often “blonde” women show up in modern day erotic magazines and films and yet they, as women, are almost considered desirable, wholesome, welcome etc., even if they have enjoyed the carnal fruits? Men are not psychologically free to wear the fairy art of woman’s clothing store as art gallery. No men should stay in the colors of black, gray, brown and blue, where the fashions are stoical, predictable, and stultified—otherwise you are, well, gay, or as the say, fey.
But then we could recall that Bruno, as bleached blonde, rode a white horse in what mortal people call “lewd” and “offensive” depictions of sexual deviance. Yet despite some clear objections to his insouciant, in--our-face, can’t-you-take-a joke, humor, he as jokester, had sophisticated media pundits to protect his creative personality from people taking complaints too far. Yet, supposedly, it was “trooping” fairies of Scotland and the Daoine Sidhe (theena shee) who used to go on fairy rades (rides) in processions on horses. Whereas Lady Rhiannon, fairy of Wales, rode her white horse “between” the worlds of mortal and fairy on Beltane. (Still Bruno should have known that the male gender trying to play Lady Godiva was not going to set well in the mortal world.) (Still one has to admire “the man” because many titans like media empire moguls like Rupert Murdock and Ted Turner wouldn’t be caught dead even wearing tights on walk in their neighborhoods—even if women walking their dogs do so any day of the week.)
But then it must have been that Donald Trumps hair fluffiness was what he was all about with his unmitigated arrogance—maybe a connection there—too much preening in this guy—if you will? Whereas the dominatrix and leggy Ann Coulter couldn’t repress her desire to “Breck-girl” John Edwards (and he is not even bleach blonde.)
Nevertheless it took a “real” fairy by the name of Tina-the-tine, a la le Fey, “disarm” Sara Palin. Yes the lady with a twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her lips to show us what the wit of real fairy power could do. One Barbie doll versus another and both look “hot” in bathing suits. And if you don’t think Tina Fey is not a fairy then you don’t understand—period—irrespective of whether she is a fighting machine and/ or was raised in the wild to be feral.
Nevertheless the stereotype of someone who is sexually “ambiguous” is more likely to be criminal in general, as suggested in Tom Hollander’s Isaac psychopath, may not likely play out in real terms of forensic science—yet it is interesting how the team that put this movie together with its obvious Nazi connotations portrays the blonde male killer psychopath versus the blonde female?
And this is no small point in this time of CIA sponsored torture, and U.S. support of “many” dictators around the world, and equally and the jackboot tactics used in Israel—yet all we get from the movie industry these days are movies about Nazis and Jews as victims. And so it still seems easy to suggest the myth that blonde people are “more” prone to racial pride when the fact remains most of the top Nazis were not blonde, and its propaganda machine was not primarily run by blonde people, and that Hitler himself was not a blonde. (This is not to argue there were no blonde Nazis—obviously there were—Germany was and is a country full of Teutonic people. Still there is something more than a little specious when a movie industry gives us a plethora of Nazi movies when it is clear that Israel, and its lobby here in the United States, played a “pivotal” part in getting our country to illegally attack Iraq (with Israeli military attaches in cahoots with neo-con-artists Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith at the Pentagon), and also is still playing a significant part in more false intelligence used to lie to the American people in trying to get the United States involved in a war with Iran. (All this while Israel continues to push the Palestinians into more desperate ghettoes.) (See ww.Occupation101.com). Because there seems to be some conceit with some Jews who actually think they are of a “superior” culture, whether they consciously admit to it or not, even though much of those fairy tales of their Biblical history was either made up, revised, or copied for other Middle Eastern ancient cultures. (Still Middle Easterners and Mediterranean peoples could lay claim to “real” civilization since they had early access to written language—which is the basis of modernity—whereas the Scandinavian peoples did not—and thus were considered “barbaric”.)
Yet this story about the CIA involved in breeding a super class of warrior is somewhat plausible, given bio-engineering, and gene-splicing, but what is more the likely story? America spends a great deal of its money on “super” weapons—and not so much on personnel—which they treat as dispensable—including some spies. Soldiers today learn how to kill from the distance of a computer using drones or pilots bombing from airplanes so they don’t have to experience the real horror of war.
(Read John Pilger’s The New Rulers of the World published between the time we attacked Afghanistan and were moving to attack Iraq—still a “very” worthy read now after the full-press propaganda campaign from the military, intelligence, and mainstream media, about Osama bin Laden—because this eye-opener of a book, from one of the “great” investigative journalists is still a breath of truth amounts a vast sea of lies that Americans are drowned in every day.)
And one of the many important questions or facts that Pilger reveals is: “Was it not terrorism to horrendously bomb 600,000 neutral Cambodians in a secret war? Or was it not terrorism to genocidal kill-off of Iraqi children during the U.S. led embargo? Many people know that there were plenty of “fake” Osama bin Ladin videos that showed up on dubious websites that claimed to speak for him. Yet now we are suppose to believe that his supposed death justified our invasions and places like Guantanamo. Pilger has some interesting things to say about our involvement in Afghanistan. And he notes in his chapter “The Great Game” that during the 1930s the term “anti-German” was used against critics of the Third Reich to silence them. (But hey no relation here.)
And so that is point of criticizing this movie if we can assume much was worth criticizing—as the industry itself has not taken it serious or tied it to much of any relevance. Rather critics, like a bunch of clueless chatterboxes, have focused on how much Hanna runs, or how good the cast for talent, etc., or how alike is Blanchett and Ronan, etc. That is to say the movie has really anything to do with reality or culture. It is just entertainment. And it clearly has several worthy aspects of drama and scenery and acting. But what does this response say of the American culture and mainstream media?
After all what kind of personality traits are being reinforced here in the states—not intelligence, not curiosity, not inquiry, but rather the opposite, and the ability to dissimilate (that is to lie), and capacity to “not” notice the huge police state that has evolved with what even the “beltway” Washington Post portrayed as an intelligence apparatus that is run amok in its story on “Top Secret America” by Dana Priest as only revealing the barest of an outline that speaks pages of unanswered questions: 1200 governmental organizations and 1900 private companies (not required to reply to freedom of information requests) working on counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S. This includes 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances, etc. America’s spy culture is super-big and just waiting for a demagogue to come along and blow it into full fledged fascism—while Obama, who, rumor has it, was trained under Henry Kissinger, does nothing. (Investigative journalists owe us more insight into the Kissinger/ Obama connection).
Good Americans are the Good Germans only this time it is OK because Americans aren’t fighting against Israel—and it is OK to have an anti-Semitic campaign as long as the Semites are Muslim and Arab as opposed to Caucasian Jews. Even the ADL can sponsor films that defame Muslims and question any influence they may have here in the United States!
So obviously America’s power elite don’t want DNA creatures that think, that that judge as individualists separated from our society’s acculturation and presumption of being special and above the law, but rather people who are shallow, and don’t think too much, and don’t ask too many questions. Ass-spanking Marissa ala Blanchett is no Valerie Plane—as Ms. Plane and her husband Joseph Wilson seemed to act on principles that we claim to value. And you can’t say the FBI went out of their way to promote, or genetically “select” for traits of Sibel Edmonds (see The American Conservative story “Who’s Afarid of Sibel Edmonds? November 2009). She may not be blonde but the heart tissue in her courage is more real than most people will ever meet in the courses of real life.
Instead we American are suppose to care about being consumers and be consumed with feelings of low-self-esteem so we buy even more to compensate ourselves. We may play lip service to super human capacities like a 16 year old girl who can out smart a commando SWAT team and out-fight three or four adult male assassins. (No fairy tale here?) But the fact is most Americans live in a bubble of deluded fairy tale even as they think it their reality.
No one that sees this movie is an island—because you have to live in society to know about it and see it. Furthermore people don’t learn to think independently by living in some exotic place and killing caribou. People think independently by learning to think well, and learning that one does not have to conform to inanity. And just maybe the U.S. Intelligence business is all that intelligent?
Still besides John Pilger’s worthy revelations about our involvement in Afghanistan, Andrew Bacevich’s Washington Rules points out that after the cold war both our military and the intelligence business should have “split” their budgets in half. But then people would not have been promoted and there would have been no money to be made, or conned, off the American taxpayer. But magically with this War On Terrorism these budgets have doubled while U.S. popularity has significantly decreased. (More importantly like pagan fairies of the non-urbanized areas were forced to go “underground” when Roman imperialism officiated Judeo-Christianity to a State Religion of empire, so too “un-believers” of officiated propaganda and dogma may need to go underground as well.)
This work is in the public domain