The Blog

Roman Polanski's "Pure Entertainment"

The Ghost Writer.

12:02 PM, Feb 24, 2010 • By SONNY BUNCH
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

I recently complained about the tendency of filmmakers to deny the authorial intent of their films; it's one thing to make a truly ambiguous movie and then challenge the audience to discover for itself the meaning, but it's another thing entirely to simply deny the obvious point that you are making in your film.

We see another example of that annoying tic in a recent interview of Pierce Brosnan, one of the stars of Roman Polanski's new film The Ghost Writer. When asked about the possible political readings of his new film -- which revolves around a British prime minister styled after Tony Blair who might be sent to the Hague for waterboarding terrorists -- Brosnan demures:

No. This is pure entertainment, this is no statement by me. I’m not a politician or political animal. This is just, as I said, one of these huge “what if” stories. I mean, it will certainly be viewed and talked about, I presume, in political terms. But it’s pure theatrical drama.

That's very interesting, since Brosnan was asked in a previous question if he had "any opinion on what the film is trying to say politically," and he said:

That our leaders should be accountable for their actions in life, and the pitfalls and the dangers of politics.

In other words, it's not unreasonable to send waterboarders -- or those who approve of enhanced interrogation techniques to be used in the first place -- to the Hague to be tried as war criminals. Now, perhaps Brosnan didn't realize the importance of what he was saying here. But it's relatively silly for him to say on the one hand that this is "pure entertainment," while on the other hand to say that the film argues that "our leaders should be accountable for their actions." You're either making an argument or you aren't. Perhaps Brosnan missed it, but I can assure you: The Ghost Writer is making an argument.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 15 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers