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The outcome of the Clinton/Trump presidential race left many people that I know reeling. Many compared the feelings they had to those on 9/11. Others have said that's going too far. We were attacked that day. This was something we did to ourselves.

To me, the feelings were more akin to 12/12, 2000. The day The Supreme Court gave that election to Bush.

That was a dismal day. A big snow storm in St. Louis. Not enough to cancel everything, but I just stayed home from work. And all I could do was watch Oliver Stones's 1991 film, JFK.

I have long been a Kennedy conspiracist, so Stone's film was a beacon in the wilderness for me. When I first saw it in a theatre, I had purchased a coke, and as I became engrossed in Stone's unique version of this national tragedy, I must not have even taken a sip. When the film pauses briefly and pivots about 2 hours in, as it moves to the courtroom scenes, I shifted in my seat and poured coke all over myself. The ice in the drink had melted, but the riveting film hadn't allowed me to breathe.

Also, I got to see Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner's lead role in the film, the one renegade who put someone on trial for the assassination) at an appearance at St. Louis U many years ago. Everyone who came wanted to see the Zapruder film, which Garrision, to all of our disappointment, did not bring. He thought everyone must have seen it, but in those days before social media, most had seen it at most once.

But the film soothed me that day. As a conspiracist, I did not trust the Supreme Court (or certainly Florida) in this decision. I was convinced of government manipulation of our society, and a film reinforced my perceptions, my fears, and my resolve.

And speaking of resolve, this most recent election demanded buckets of resolve to weather it. I voted early that day, fairly confident in results that would pour in later. I had time to kill before checking into the networks, so watched a DVD of a recent film, ANTHROPOID, a true story about WWII resistance (I can watch Nazi stuff almost any time.)

ANTHROPOID was the code name of a remarkable mission in the early days of the war. The Czech government, in exile in London, parachuted two Czech soldiers into Czechoslovakia in December, 1941. Their mission assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the "Butcher of Prague," and the top-ranked Nazi there. Everyone was aware that if this happened the Nazis would initiate mass reprisals against the Czech people. But it was decided it had to be done the Czechs had to show the world they were fighting back, and they had to gain the world's support in these early days of the conflict.

The movie is good, not great, but it greatly recreates the story in amazing detail, shooting scenes at actual locations in Prague, including the final siege at the Orthodox Cathedral. The Czech soldiers were hiding as others in the resistance tried to find a way out of the country for them, and their last refuge was in the lower depths of the Cathedral, aided by a sympathetic priest. Not only were the Nazis going door-to-door, killing as they went along, but they offered huge rewards and finally, through bribery and torture, found out the hiding place of the assassins. They stormed the Cathedral, where after hours of battle, the Czech soldiers each committed suicide.

This grim but inspiring film led to an every grimmer evening. The following day, I posted on Facebook "Who wants to join me in the Czech Resistance?" After the elections results rolled in, I thought back to ANTHROPOID, realizing that, even in the darkest of times, good people will resist.

(Sidenote: Though this didn't equate to 9/11 to me, there was more art that helped me process that dark day the novels of Alan Furst. I came across them soon after 9/11, and, to me, they echoed the new world we lived in. Each of Furst's novels take place sometime between 1937-1941 the Nazis are ruling the world and getting stronger and in each novel a man (a journalist, actor, advertising guy) in a strategic European city, is recruited into helping the resistance. The books are all thrilling, melancholy, bittersweet, with the same, doomed "Let's live while we can" feel of CASABLANCA and all repeat that film's heroes decisions to fight on, and fight against the tide. Pick up an Alan Furst novel if you can. It will help.

 


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Revised: October, 2007
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