Utopia & dystopia

If Commune highlights the impermanence of relationships, Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next? takes its cue from America’s greed for power

Thomas Vinterberg’s film Commune is the kind that addresses the elephant in the room. Commune tells the story of Erik and Anna and their daughter Freja, a seemingly happy family. Erik inherits a huge mansion and his utopia starts to crumble. Initially, Erik plans to sell the mansion, but Anna suggests that they should invite their friends to live with them in that mansion. Erik agrees and a group of people joins them with collective responsibilities, common kitchen and house meetings. They all appear to live happily together as one big family hosting parties and helping each other.

And then Erik brings a student, with whom he is having an affair, to live in the mansion. Predictably, it sparks tension between Erik, Anna and the whole group, leading to a mentally shattered Anna losing her job as a TV news reader. She quits the commune.

Interestingly, according to Vinterberg, Commune is “a love declaration to my childhood in a commune”. “From the age of 7 to 19, I lived in a commune. It was a crazy, warm and fantastic time, [I was]surrounded by genitals, beer, high level academic discussions, love and personal tragedies. As a child, every day was a fairy tale,” said Vinterberg during the press meet of the screening. “People love, separate and die. But there was a time when people were sharing and those days were over. And I miss that. It is about impermanence of things. Time disappears, love disappears and even life goes out of the child and things are certainly over.”

Now that refugee is a big deal in Europe, at times Commune did seem to allude to the problems that Europe faces in intergrating the huge refugee population. But Vinterberg denied any such motives. “I will never make a film about a politically correct subject. I would like to inspire people to share and not humiliate others... I am trying to explore human beings, human fragility and the sense of togetherness between the two genders. I am trying to explore their weaknesses and their strengths.”

Up next was Academy Award winner Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next? A tongue-in-cheek, cheerful take on American military aggression on other soils. The film starts with an offer to the Pentagon to immediately take on the task of invading faraway countries as a one-man army. He won’t shoot anyone, won’t plunder any oil and he will bring back something useful for his fellow-Americans.

Italy’s holiday entitlement regulations, France’s school meals, Finland’s education system, Germany’s approach to accounting for its past and Iceland’s gender equality are the values he would like to conquer and take back to his country. But he recounts that they were all nothing new and these countries have adapted them from American experience of these values.

America, instead of revenge and violence, needs to look inward calmly for the welfare of its people, suggests Moore in his latest venture. The result of this upbeat yet thoughtful global invasion is a film about the USA that was made without filming a single shot on American soil.

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