With the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the current President of the United States to mixed reviews, for me a question of worth came to mind. Does America value hope enough? Barack Obama was awarded theNobel Peace Prize, according to the Nobel Foundation's website, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." In my eyes that translates to the word "hope". I believe (and I'm obviously not the first to say it) Barack Obama inspired a new hope in America during his election campaign and inaugural ceremonies that followed his win. It felt like the 44th President of America changed the global climate overnight, just by being elected. Whether or not he's been able to maintain that hope with impatient Americans during very troubling times is another conversation. My point is whether possessing a talent for eliciting hope in others is powerful enough to effect extraordinary positive change in the world. That is to say, worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.
What does this have to do with film on an editor's blog? Plenty I think, because the current social-political atmosphere will influence both fiction and non-fiction films of the future. The most recent election year and 2008's bailouts have already been up for review in Micheal Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. (wonderful use of archival footage as well as it's painfully emotion scenes flanked with comedic takes on the absurdity of it all).
As I watched Capitalism: A Love Story the other night, it occurred to me how similar some of the scenes were to John Ford's screen adaptation of John Steinbeck's (also a Nobel Prize winner) novel, The Grapes of Wrath. The story of a family of sharecroppers driven from their home during the Great Depression (no doubt you had it as required reading as well. Heck of a book, no?).
I read the book as a kid and remember how inconceivable those circumstances seemed to me at the time. But here we are again....
I'm not the only one who sees some similarities between then and now, check out New York Time's critic A.O. Scott who couples some of The Grapes of Wrath scenes with his own commentary.
So where does the hope come from when you're hungry and homeless? I would guess hope is all you have left when you have nothing and no where to go. In both Micheal Moore's recent movie and in the novel The Grapes of Wrath, we see a lot of people surviving on hope. Am I over simplifying the reasons Barack Obama was awarded 2009's Nobel Peace Prize? Yeah I am, but I do believe hope is a significant factor. It does sound hokey as I type this, but hope can go a long way and it seems to be powerful enough to move one or many into action by way of inspiration, desperation or both. Either way, it works.