Friday, September 1, 2006

"[A]n offense against the gods and against civilization, too"

I haven't yet seen Spike Lee's brilliant film, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. It's out on HBO, I don't know if it will hit the theatres. The New Yorker gives it much praise.

Viewers seeking detailed information about the economy and the politics of New Orleans will have to go elsewhere. But anyone hoping to reclaim Katrina emotionally—to experience what the city went through in all its phases of loss, anger, and contempt—needs to see Lee’s movie, which is surely the most magnificent and large-souled record of a great American tragedy ever put on film.

There’s one element that seems unredeemable—the dead citizens lying all over the city, bloated and discolored. It’s the primal curse of the Greek myths: the unburied corpse, an offense against the gods and against civilization, too. That’s why the mock funeral at the end of the movie, whatever its precise meaning, is the most eloquent of gestures. Society may have collapsed, but a proper burial is still fitting. The citizens of New Orleans graciously grant to the storm the courtesy that the storm, in its rage, could not grant to them.

h/t to The Tomb for uploaded segments of Parts I & II. Parts III & IV are here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi JayV
    I saw your post after mine at the Episcopalian Majority and I'm trying to place you at St. Stephen's. Give me some better clues than "born in Holland."

    I also would like to see the film about NOLA. That's' where my last parish was before I retired in 2003; St. Anna's just outside the French Quarter. Living in NOLA was an experience that was one I'll always cherish (like going to the Naval Academy) but don't want to repeat (like going to the Naval Academy.)

    Although I'm retired, I still have a flock: Christ Church, San Augustine, TX. (

    Why don't you email me? glynn at glynnharperdotcom so we can catch up on each other.


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