Saturday, November 25, 2006


MOSQUITO COAST (1986, Peter Weir, wr Paul Schrader, fr Paul Theroux)
God had left the world incomplete, he said, and it was man's job to understand how it worked, to tinker with it, and to finish it. I think that was why he hated missionaries so much - because they taught people to put up with their earthly burdens. For father, there were no burdens that couldn't be fitted with a set of wheels, or rudders, or a system of pulleys.

I was so put off by what I took to be the film's virulent missionary bashing – it came out in a time when the culture's hatred of evangelists, particularly cross-cultural ones, was epidemic – I couldn't see whatever strengths it may have had. That may be the movie, or it may only be the movie's central character, whose triumphalist scientism is in any case most definitely weighed in the balance and found wanting. I think the axe being ground is meant to fell western imperialism, including the whole missionary endeavour. But that's a complex issue with truths on both sides, and this film isn't interested in such subtleties: more diatribe than dialectic, MOSQUITO COAST gives us an uncharacteristically shrill Peter Weir.

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