Saturday, May 31, 2014
"X-Men", like "The Proles", sweep across the 3-D screen; what really ended the Vietnam war (and Nixon's presidency)
I can remember Anderson Cooper’s tweeting that he likes X-men movies, and maybe that convinced me to see the recent “musical offering”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. Bryan Singer directs, and there isn’t much question that there is an intentional parallel between coming out as a “mutant” and coming out as gay, because in the 1970s that idea might have held.
I’ve always been suspicious of backward time-travel stories, because of the “time arrow of physics”. That is so, even as I enjoyed the television series “The 4400” a few years ago. Nevertheless, because most of the action takes place in a “relived” 1973 (the year that I “came out” for good), the story rather worked.
I’m not into all the Marvel comic characters enough to keep them straight, and there are plenty of detailed plot synopses on the Web now. The basic idea is that Charles (Professor X, Patrick Stewart, in 2023) decides to go back to 1973 to prevent a Nixonian plot to destroy the mutants. Logan (Hugh Jackman) will team up with the younger Charles (James McAvoy) who is paralyzed but has telepathic abilities and a lot of charisma. If he ever walks again, he gives up his psychic powers. I think the nerdy guy guarding him was played by Nicholas Hoult (he seemed more like me in 1973). Pretty soon, the story is focused on the end of the fighting in Vietnam, and then the Paris peace talks, which in history resulted in a settlement at the end of January 1973. There’s also a mutant who had assassinated President Kennedy, imprisoned in the bowels of the Pentagon. The script gives various references to the international politics of the time, including even the Cuban Missile Crisis. Later, a caricature of Nixon (Mark Camacho) appears on the White House Lawn, while the mutants have scalped RFK Stadium (the hapless Washington Senators baseball team had left in 1972) and dropped its iconic shell around the White House lawn.
My own novel manuscript of “The Proles” (1969) has an episode set in Viet Nam with some supernatural stuff (a bizarre flux and ray gun) fired by a character based on someone who had been a buddy in the barracks at Fort Eustis, a Berkeley doctoral candidate who called himself Rado Suhl. As I recall, he left the shelter of a “professional” assignment and went to Vietnam before he got out of the Army. I thought, the Vietnam sequence simulated what he wanted to see when he went “over there”. Indeed, I wondered what inspired Singer and the screenwriters to delve into this troubling period of American military and diplomatic history that is already being forgotten.
The official site is here.
I saw this film late Saturday afternoon at the Angelika Moasic in Merrifield VA in 3-D before a substantial crowd.
The picture shows the garden apartment in Caldwell NJ where I lived at the time of the 1973 sequence in this movie.