Wednesday, May 17

Damn Political Correctness

In general, this blog is not a supporter of remakes of classic films. However, in the case of the classic Second War film, The Dam Busters I agree that film director Peter Jackson is the right man to direct a spectacular £100 million spectacular remake.

Jackson, renowned for the astonishing computer graphics in his Lord of the Rings and King Kong movies, will be working with Sir David Frost who last year bought the rights to Paul Brickhill's 1951 book about the 617 Squadrons audacious bombing raid in May 1943.

Peter Jackson has promised to maintain the accuracy and indeed style of the original film released in 1955. One hopes that the memorable scene (used for poster advertising of the film in the 1950's ) showing Wing Commander Gibson (played by Richard Todd) piloting his Avro Lancaster, AJ-G, dressed in an authentic RAF double cuffed shirt, with gold cuff links will be reproduced in the remake. Cleary it would not be the done thing to bomb the enemy improperly dressed.
Certainly Eric Coats' famious music, The Dam Busters March played by the Central Band of the RAF is to be reused as the theme music in the remake which is due to be released in 2008.
There is apparently much debate on what some consider to be the thorny question of what to call Gibson's beloved but now controversially named Labrador, Nigger. Sir David has commented that the name is not ideal for the modern world. The real challenge is to make the film as good or better than the original.'' We must hope that ''better'' does not mean 'PC'.

Well now, research by this blog reveals that Nigger was not quite as popular as legend has it. At RAF Scampton, base of 617 Squadron Nigger was as unpopular as his owner. The dog was thoroughly spoilt and was often given too much Beer from the mess by his owner and frequently caused annoyance by peeing up the leg of RAF personnel. Nigger was killed the day before the raid (not as in the film on the same afternoon as the mission) not by a hit and run driver (as suggested in the film) but by an RAF officer driving his own car. There is a conspiracy theory that Nigger's death was not an accident.

Very curiously in the final scene of the original film when Barns Wallace (Michael Redgrave) is being consoled on the loss of life by Guy Gibson an outline of a black Labrador can be seen running through the trees in the background - is this the ghost of Nigger ? Plenty of scope there then for Sir David's production team !

Furthermore, the code word for the successful breaching of the Mohne Dam on the raid was designated by Gibson as 'Nigger' in memory of his dog which was the squadron mascot. Quite how that can be rewritten without loosing any authenticity it is difficult to suggest.

The question of course is why should Nigger be renamed ? Agreed the term at the start of the 21 century is very offensive. Well, so to is Nazism. Should reference to Hitler, Goering and their cronies not be refered to in the remake because they were evil ? The death of 1,300 civilians (many of them forced labourers ) in the factories of the Rhur valley when the dams were broken is now seen as a politically unacceptable occurrence.

The answer is to this particular question is to make a film that is as accurate as possible, one which reflects the values and aspirations and life style of the people in the 1940's. In tribute to those who were killed on the night of 16/17 May a compromise to modern day political correctness would it self be offensive. Lest we forget how it really was.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BRAVO!! Its time someone recoginzed that history, is just that...HISTORY, and cannot nor should it be changed by some political correctness. It seems that too many folks have not enought to do but too look for things to protest. Frankly I'm tired of hearing how "offended" some clown might be because of someone expressing their opinions that may or may not be in agreement with the protestors.