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Ed Driscoll

Back and to the Left: Springtime for Oliver Stone

December 9th, 2012 - 12:56 pm
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Ron Radosh appears in the latest edition of Poliwood with Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd to discuss Oliver Stone’s revisionist — to say the least! — history series. Ron has an article in the Weekly Standard which explores the topic further:

Two years ago, Oliver Stone announced that he was preparing to make a documentary about recent American history. It premieres on the CBS-owned cable network Showtime on November 12. Titled Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, it is written by Stone and historian Peter Kuznick and narrated and directed by Stone. The series reflects the view Stone expressed in 2010 that the Soviet Union’s leader in the 1930s and ’40s, Joseph Stalin, has “been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,” so what is needed is a program allowing viewers to walk in both his and Hitler’s shoes “to understand their point of view.”

That last quote comes from an article in The Hollywood Reporter from early 2010:

“Stalin, Hitler, Mao, McCarthy — these people have been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,” Stone told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour in Pasadena.

“Stalin has a complete other story,” Stone said. “Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation. He fought the German war machine more than any single person. We can’t judge people as only ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and its been used cheaply. He’s the product of a series of actions. It’s cause and effect … People in America don’t know the connection between WWI and WWII … I’ve been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler’s shoes to understand their point of view.”

Mel Brooks’ classic film The Producers — a satire for the rest of us; a how-to guide for Oliver Stone. Did  Bialystock and Bloom produce Stone’s miniseries?

LIEBKIND

I vas vit him a great deal, you know.

BIALYSTOCK

With whom?

LIEBKIND

(astonished by the question)

Vit the Fuhrer, of course. He liked me. Out of all the household staff at Berchtesgarten, I vas his favorite. I vas the only one allowed into his chambers at bedtime.

BIALYSTOCK

No kidding?

LIEBKIND

Oh, sure. I used to take him his hot milk and his opium. Achhh, those were the days. Vat good times ve had. Dinner parties vit lovely ladies and gentlemen, singing und dancing. You know, not many people knew about it, but the Fuhrer vas a terrific dancer.

BIALYSTOCK

Really, I never dreamed ...

LIEBKIND

(flies into an indignant rage)

That's because you were taken in by that verdampter Allied propaganda. Such filthy lies. But nobody said a bad vord about Winston Churchill, did they? Oh no, Vin Vit Vinnie!(he gestures V for victory) Churchill, vit his cigars and his brandy and his rotten paintings. Couldn't even say Nazi. He would say Narzis, Narzis. Ve vere not Narzies, ve vere Nazis. But let me tell this, and you're getting it straight from the horse, Hitler vas better looking than Churchill, he vas a better dresser than Churchill, had more hair, told funnier jokes, and could dance the pants off Churchill!

BIALYSTOCK

(swinging along)

That's exactly why we want to do this play. To show the world the true Hitler, the Hitler you knew, the Hitler you loved, the Hitler with a song in his heart.

BIALYSTOCK (CONT'D)

(to Bloom)

Leo, quick, the contract.

BLOOM QUICKLY WHIPS THE CONTRACT OUT OF HIS POCKET, PRODUCES A PEN, HANDS THEM TO BIALYSTOCK. BIALYSTOCK SPREADS THE CONTRACT OUT ON THE TABLE BEFORE LIEBKIND.

BIALYSTOCK

Here, sign here, Franz Liebkind. And make your dream a reality.

Stone’s mini-series is also the latest lefty reclamation project for the legacy of former FDR veep Henry Wallace, Radosh writes:

According to his own testimony, if he had become president, Wallace would have made Harry Dexter White his secretary of the Treasury and given a position in government to Laurence Duggan. Both men were Soviet agents. As a KGB cable found in the Venona archives shows, the Soviets hoped that Duggan would aid them “by using his friendship” with Wallace for “extracting .  .  . interesting information.”

Instead, of course, Roosevelt replaced Wallace with Harry Truman on the Democratic ticket in 1944, and named Wallace secretary of commerce. FDR died on April 12, 1945, and in September 1946, President Truman fired Wallace. The provocation was a speech Wallace gave at a Madison Square Garden rally in which, contrary to administration policy, he called for recognizing Soviet spheres of influence—in effect, occupation zones—as just and necessary. Stone endorses Wallace’s support for turning the nations of Eastern Europe into Soviet pawns, arguing that what Wallace favored was no different from the Russians’ recognition of American influence in the Western hemisphere. Failing to distinguish between democracies and totalitarian regimes, Stone consistently portrays the Soviet Union as the victim of American imperialism, while regarding the monster Stalin as a peaceful leader who sought only to gain valid security guarantees on his borders.

“Say what you like about Harry S Truman,”  Moe Lane adds, but “Truman had one hell of an advantage: he wasn’t Henry Wallace. We dodged one monstrously large bullet, there.”

In his Weekly Standard article, Radosh concludes:

No one put the truth about Wallace better than Dwight Macdonald, who wrote in his delightfully wicked 1948 exegesis Henry Wallace: The Man and the Myth that Wallaceland was “a region of perpetual fogs, caused by the warm winds of the liberal Gulf Stream coming in contact with the Soviet glacier.” In the 21st century, Oliver Stone still lives in that perpetual fog.

A couple of years ago, I picked up the DVD edition of Britain’s classic World at War series from the early 1970s. Watching all of the episodes for the first time since it ran on American TV in the mid-1970s, I was reminded that it was made at precisely the right time. Television techniques were by then sufficiently evolved that the story could be told in a visually competent fashion — the documentarians at Thames Television didn’t have computer animation to aid their production, for example, and the 16mm film stock they used to shoot their hours of interviews looks more than a little grainy on an HD TV today. But all of that pales in comparison to the simple fact that the West still had confidence in their victory.

As I was watching the World At War, I couldn’t help but begin to wonder how it would play if it were made in the age of Political Correctness, postmodernism and Black Armband History.

Now we know.

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