On the Horizon:“The Last Illusion” and “Teresa”
IN TWO recent films-the American Teresa and the German The Last Illusion -America’s legendary innocence and optimism are again contrasted with Europe’s intimacy with evil and immersion in tragedy. But instead of proving irreconcilable-as they usually do in the popular press-the differences turn out, in the context of the films, to be complementary, both pictures ending on the symbolic note of trans-Atlantic marriage. It is true that these marriages promise a degree of conflict; but they also offer the hope, contained in the statement of an American student in Germany in The Last Illusion, that nations that have fought one another can be better friends once they have been reconciled than they could be if they had never been enemies. This Spinozistic formulation unfortunately does not take into account the manner in which the fight was conducted. Gandhi was shrewder: he knew that the atmosphere of a struggle largely determined the possibilities of subsequent amity. And we have learned that the experience of extermination camps, saturation bombing, and atomic annihilation cannot so easily be repaired by the workings of natural compassion.
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