Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, Part 1

By Jim Carey

On Monday we will show part one of a 10-part series on The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone. At the costs of US$5 million (US$ 1 million from Stone himself) and taking four years to make, the film relies almost exclusively on archival footage and clips from Hollywood movies—plus a splendid soundtrack and symphonic Beethoven at key moments. There are no talking heads to slow the pace. In his folksy introduction, Stone talks about growing up in New York, studying history, going to Vietnam as an infantry soldier, and then traveling, making movies and receiving a broader education in the world. When he saw what his children were studying in school, he was perturbed. They were getting as one-sided a view of American history as he had gotten: “We were the center of the world; there was a manifest destiny. We were the good guys.” He presents this series knowing that we may not find a lot of answers, but he hopes that it will make us more conscious. He hopes to bring us back to the “meaning of this country” and what so radically changed after World War II.

Occupy SMA Meeting and Film
Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, Part 1
Mon, May 30, 1pm
Quinta Loreto
Loreto 15
No charge

Part one begins with the first atomic bomb, Trinity, exploding on July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo army field in New Mexico. J. Robert Oppenheimer later stated: “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, —Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.—I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.” And the world never has been the same.

We meet Henry Wallace, the Secretary of Agriculture, who was at the very nerve center of the New Deal for the workers of America. He was instrumental in starting food stamps, school lunch programs, government subsidies for farmers, land use planning and soil conservation. He spoke eloquently about equality and was a strong vocal opponent of racism. We witness his struggle as FDR’s Vice President, feared by the bosses, who controlled the Democratic Party.

We see how in Franco’s war against the Spanish Republic, unnoticed by many historians, Torkild Rieber, the CEO of Texaco, the major American oil company, was a fascist sympathizer who decided to back Franco by violating US law and selling oil to both Franco and Hitler on credit. We get a sweeping view of Japan’s rise and their brutality toward the people of China. We see the buildup of the German war machine. We hear how Ford, General Motors, and Firestone aided the devastation, brutality and gore. The 60 to 65 million slaughtered led Stone to question WWII as a “Good War.”  Join our discussion. Our events are free.

 

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