Film and the Teaching of History

[Michael Curtiz, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) – a man who “speaks treason fluently” to tyrants]

[Warren Beatty, “Reds” (1981) – a brilliant political film but about the wrong side]

See also “The Politics and History of/in Film”.

I have used films in my teaching and lecturing ever since I began teaching at the University of Adelaide in 1986. They were a regular feature in my first year introductory courses on Modern European history, my upper level courses on “German Europe” and “The Holocaust,” and most extensively in my course “Responses to War: An Intellectual and Cultural History” in which, over a period of a decade, I showed about 100 different films. [See “Some Thoughts on how People have ‘Responded to War’”]

The week long Summer Seminars organized by the Institute for Humane Studies during the 1990s on “Liberty in Film and Fiction” gave me an opportunity to show and discuss films with a group of students who were sympathetic to CL/libertarian ideas and who were in creative writing and film studies programs. These films included:

  1. Lewis Milestone, “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)
  2. Michael Curtiz, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938)
  3. Robert Wise, “Executive Suite” (1954)
  4. Stanley Kubrick, “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)
  5. Andrew McLaglan, “Shenandoah“ (1965)
  6. George Lucas, “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” (1977)
  7. Claude Berri, “ Jean de Florette“ (1987) and “Manon des sources” (1987)
  8. Oliver Stone, “Wall Street” (1987)
  9. Kenneth Branagh, “Henry V” (1989)
  10. Volker Schloendorff, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1990)
  11. Norman Jewison, “Other People’s Money” (1991)

[Claude Berri, “Jean de Florette” (1987) – on property rights in water and what happens when they are violated]

Since war films were a major interest of mine, during 1995 I held a two week long “film festival” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, during which I showed two films a day for two weeks. See the full list.

The two Honours level subjects I taught on ”Reel History: History IN Film and Film AS History” (course guide) and “Film and the History of Occupation, Collaboration, and Resistance in WW2” (course guide) provided an opportunity to explore in greater depth some of the key questions which an historian must ask about film, such as

  1. the representation and interpretation of history which takes place WITHIN films, in other words, to examine films as works of historical interpretation by the filmmaker
  2. to study films as important historical documents in their own right, i.e. to use films as just one of many primary sources one might use in order to better understand the past
  3. to compare and contrast the kind of history presented to the public by the film industry in Hollywood, i.e. “Hollywood History”, with other, sometimes more thoughtful historical films made by European and independent filmmakers
  4. to compare and contrast all forms of “filmed history” with the history found in traditional, printed texts

Since I was teaching “history” courses a major question we had to ask and try to answer (if we could) was how historically accurate was the film, and if it was not accurate, to ask the follow up question, why did the filmmaker alter the past or stress certain aspects and ignore or distort others?

A question we kept coming back to was one posed by Robert Rosenstone, who asked:

No matter how serious or honest the filmmakers, and no matter how deeply committed they are to rendering the subject faithfully, the history that finally appears on the screen can never fully satisfy the historian as historian (although it may satisfy the historian as filmgoer). Inevitably, something happens on the way from the page to the screen that changes the meaning of the past as it is understood by those of us who work in words.

[Robert A. Rosenstone, “History in Images/History in Words: Reflections on the Possibility of Really Putting History into Film,” American Historical Review, December 1988, vol. 93, no. 5, pp. 1173-85. ]

It should be noted that Rosenstone, as an historian, wrote a biography of the American socialist journalist John Reed, Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed (1975) and then advised Warren Beatty in the making of his Academy award-winning film Reds (1981). The film is a brilliant depiction of an immensely important historical event but is is far too sympathetic to the socialist cause, even uncritical. This inspired me to write my own screenplay on a classical liberal on whom I had written a great deal who had also been involved in a revolution – Frédéric Bastiat in the 1848 Revolution in Paris in February 1848. The results, entitled “Broken Windows” screenplay HTML, along with an “illustrated essay” to help the director “visualize the past” can be found here. I found some initial interest by a small-time producer in taking it further but that interest soon evaporated when the complexity and the cost of filming an “historical film” became evident. In the meantime a dreadful “bro” movie about Marx and Engels in Paris at the same time Bastiat was living and working there got made with funding by the EU. [Raoul Peck, “The Young Karl Marx” (2018) and the review in the New York Times by A.O. Scott (22 Feb. 2018) here]

[Raoul Peck, “The Young Karl Marx” (2018) – yet another account of the life of an obnoxious man and his obnoxious ideas]

Other questions I explored in these classes, with particular reference to war films, were the following. To use films:

(1.) to assist in the visualisation of historical events or historical conditions, thus the film acts as a “window on the past” and is an attempt to “restage the past” (Sorlin) or an attempt to create “historical authenticity” (Zemon Davis) on the screen. Examples include:

  1. Carl Theodor Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc) (1928)
  2. Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  3. Cy Endfield, Zulu (1964)
  4. Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus (1960) and Dr Strangelove (1964)
  5. Peter Watkins, The Battle of Culloden (1969)
  6. Oliver Stone, Platoon (1986)
  7. Maxwell, Gettysburg (1994)
  8. and one film which is not: John Wayne’s Green Berets (1968).

[The sensational original release movie poster of a slave revolt in ancient Rome which does not show any inkling of Kubrick’s deeper ideas about the subject.]

(2.) to study the history of prevailing attitudes or mentalités, since sometimes the film tells us more about the time of its making than the events it sets out to depict, that the film reflects the “climate of opinion” of the society in which it was made, in other words it acts as a “mirror of contemporary society”.

  1. the left-wing and humanitarian pacifism of Remarque/Milestone’s All Quiet (1930) and Pabst’s Westfront 1918 (1930) in the late Weimar Republic;
  2. the officially sanctioned or supported war propaganda of Olivier’s Henry V (1944) and Frank Capra’s series on Why We Fight (1942); and on the German/Nazi side, Veit Harlan, Kolberg (1945)
  3. he paranoia and fear of communist infiltration and invasion at the height of the Cold War in Siegel’s Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956);
  4. and the anti-authoritarianism, even anarchism, of the swinging sixties depicted in Altman’s MASH** (1970) and Nichols’ Catch-22 (1970).

(3.) to study the ideas of individual filmmakers (especially those who were war veterans); in this case, the film is a “personal memoir” by someone who had first-hand experience of the events depicted on the screen.

  1. films made by directors who were engaged as official filmmakers during war who went on to make films after the war, such as John Ford’s They Were Expendable (1945) and William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).
  2. Three examples of filmmakers who personally experienced combat include Jean Renoir’s La Grande Ilusion (1936), Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition (1959-61), and Oliver Stone’s (again) Platoon (1986) and Born on the 4th of July (1989).
  3. or indirectly, when a director makes a film based upon a novel or memoir by someone else who was a participant, such as Lewis Milestone (Erick Maria Remarque), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

(4.) to reflect on the nature of war, history and the human condition in a general way; in this case, film can function as a philosophical or historical “essay” which attempts to interpret or make sense of the past in some way.

  1. films based upon Shakespeare – Laurence Olivier’s and Kenneth Branagh’s versions of Shakespeare’s Henry V (1944/1989), Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957) and Ran (1985);
  2. Akira Kurosawa, The Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai) (1954)
  3. Sergei Bondarchuck’s version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1968);
  4. Jean Renoir, La Grande Illusion (1936); Kon Ichikawa, The Burmese Harp (Harp of Burma – Biruma No Tategoto) (1956) and Fires on the Plain (Nobi) (1962)
  5. Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre of war films: Paths of Glory (1957), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb (1964)
  6. Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition (1958-61).

[Lewis Milestone, “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930) – the classic anti-war movie to which we all keep coming back.]

An important question which was often raised in my courses was one articulated by the Romanian film historian Manuela Gheorghiu-Cernat who expressed it this way: is the showing and studying of war films (especially violent ones) “a pedagogy of peace or a school of violence?” [Arms and the Film, pp. 303-23]. Perhaps Fritz Lang was correct when he stated in 1958 interview: “Could anything new be possibly said on war?… No. But, it is essential for us to repeat over and over again, the things previously uttered.” (Quoted in Manuela Gheorghiu-Cernat, Arms and the Film, p. 304.)

Lang’s unstated assumption is that in the 20th century film would become the medium through which this restatement of the horrors and evil of war can and should be made. We need to ask ourselves whether film, rather than the written word (or perhaps art), is the proper medium for this dialogue. Or perhaps Georges Duhamel is closer to the mark with his prediction: “I shall no longer be able to think what I want. My thoughts will be replaced by mobile images.” (Quoted in Manuela Gheorghiu-Cernat, Arms and the Film, p. 305.) The American soldiers in Vietnam who had watched John Wayne westerns and war movies when they were growing up had such mobile images in their minds – images of heroic actions, self-sacrifice for the state, and glorious death on the battlefield. The great power cinema has is the capacity to offer such “mobile images”, with their associated political and moral meanings, for the purposes of distraction, excitement, amusement, and the political control of audiences. Thus educators have a special responsibility to use this medium carefully.

What I try to do in my use of film in the teaching of history is to make explicit what is implicit in the mobile images on the screen, to place in historical context what might appear at first sight to be timeless and “normal” to the viewer, to discuss the moral beliefs and the political orientation of filmmakers and the impact these ideas have on their filmmaking, and to examine the reception of the films by the audiences of their day.

[Source: Manuela Gheorghiu-Cernat, Arms and the Film: War and Peace in European films. Translated into English by Florin Ionescu and Ecaterina Grundbock (Bucharest : Meridiane, 1983).]

Some additional thoughts on the connections between film and history can be found in the following essays and guides:

“A Guide to the Study of War, History, and Film”

“Further Thoughts on War Films and the Study of History”

“Bastiat goes to the Movies, or “Filming Freddie”: How to Popularise Economic Ideas in Film” (2017)

“Some Thoughts on an ‘Austrian Theory of Film’: Ideas and Human Action in a Film about Frédéric Bastiat” (Sept. 2019)

Turning Rosé into Chardonnay via a Middleman

Youtube clip

I recently had to go into hospital for bladder surgery and had to stay an extra night as I had bleeding and blood clots. I was hooked up to a diabolical hydraulic machine which pumped 66 liters of saline in and out of my bladder for a day and a half to “irrigate” it. Though I would have to say it was more “irritation” than ”irrigation”. I was woken up every hour or so throughout the night when the nurse hung up new bags of saline.

It made me think of the powerful scene in Mike Nichols’ film of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch 22 (1961) where two nurses attend a poor bloke in a military hospital who is encased in a full body cast and casually swap the bag of saline and the urine bag instead of giving him a fresh one. All without so much as breaking their inane conversations about something or other. The thought of this happening to me gave me nightmares. So I returned to Heller’s novel to refresh my memory.

The copy I had in the 1970s broke its spine, was surgically repaired, but eventually got lost in one of my moves over the years. I got a new one (the 50th anniversary edition). I remember reading the novel when I was in high school and sneaked in to see the film when it was released. It was 1971 or thereabouts and I was 14 and the film was rated “adults only” by the censors (which are quite strict in Australia). It had a deep impact on me.

The saline swapping scene comes from chapter 17 “The Soldier in White”. Here Heller considers the different ways of dying in a hospital compared to the many terrible ways one can die in battle (in his case in the air in a bomber). See for example this passage:

Being in the hospital was better than being over Bologna or flying over Avignon with Huple and Dobbs at the controls and Snowden dying in back.
There were usually not nearly as many sick people inside the hospital as Yossarian saw outside the hospital, and there were generally fewer people inside the hospital who were seriously sick. There was a much lower death rate inside the hospital than outside the hospital, and a much healthier death rate. Few people died unnecessarily. People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep Death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian’s tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane. …
They didn’t take it on the lam weirdly inside a cloud the way Clevinger had done. They didn’t explode into blood and clotted matter. They didn’t drown or get struck by lightning, mangled by machinery or crushed in landslides. They didn’t get shot to death in hold-ups, strangled to death in rapes, stabbed to death in saloons, bludgeoned to death with axes by parents or children, or die summarily by some other act of God. Nobody choked to death. People bled to death like gentlemen in an operating room or expired without comment in an oxygen tent. There was none of that tricky now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t business so much in vogue outside the hospital, none of that now-I-am-and-now-I-ain’t. There were no famines or floods. Children didn’t suffocate in cradles or iceboxes or fall under trucks. No one was beaten to death. People didn’t stick their heads into ovens with the gas on, jump in front of subway trains or come plummeting like dead weights out of hotel windows with a whoosh!, accelerating at the rate of thirty-two feet per second to land with a hideous plop! on the sidewalk and die disgustingly there in public like an alpaca sack full of hairy strawberry ice cream, bleeding, pink toes awry.

Yossarian was trying to avoid doing more dangerous and deadly flying missions so he took refuge in the hospital. He was thus able to observe the treatment the “soldier in white” was getting, such as the “polishing” of his bandages and the swapping over of his saline and urine bags:

The soldier in white was more like a stuffed and sterilized mummy than a real nice guy. Nurse Duckett and Nurse Cramer kept him spick-and-span. They brushed his bandages often with a whiskbroom and scrubbed the plaster casts on his arms, legs, shoulders, chest and pelvis with soapy water. Working with a round tin of metal polish, they waxed a dim gloss on the dull zinc pipe rising from the cement on his groin. With damp dish towels they wiped the dust several times a day from the slim black rubber tubes leading in and out of him to the two large stoppered jars, one of them, hanging on a post beside his bed, dripping fluid into his arm constantly through a slit in the bandages while the other, almost out of sight on the floor, drained the fluid away through the zinc pipe rising from his groin. Both young nurses polished the glass jars unceasingly. They were proud of their housework.

And further:

Nurse Duckett showed up then and chased them all back to their own beds while Nurse Cramer changed the stoppered jars for the soldier in white. Changing the jars for the soldier in white was no trouble at all, since the same clear fluid was dripped back inside him over and over again with no apparent loss. When the jar feeding the inside of his elbow was just about empty, the jar on the floor was just about full, and the two were simply uncoupled from their respective hoses and reversed quickly so that the liquid could be dripped right back into him. Changing the jars was no trouble to anyone but the men who watched them changed every hour or so and were baffled by the procedure.
“Why can’t they hook the two jars up to each other and eliminate the middleman?” the artillery captain with whom Yossarian had stopped playing chess inquired. “What the hell do they need him for?”
“I wonder what he did to deserve it,” the warrant officer with malaria and a mosquito bite on his ass lamented after Nurse Cramer had read her thermometer and discovered that the soldier in white was dead.
“He went to war,” the fighter pilot with the golden mustache surmised.

It was interesting to see how my nurses referred to these bags of saline and urine. They would hold up the urine bag against the light and earnestly discuss its colour using simile’s taken from oenology, such as “rosé”. I would imagine that “claret” was not a good sign (probably indicating the end was nigh), “rosé” was the word they used at first and this kind of wine was a cause for concern. Success would be declared when the “rosé” was miraculously transmogrified into “chardonnay” in a kind of reverse biblical miracle of turning wine into “water.” All of this of course was taking place in a strict prohibitionist environment where wine of any variety was kept away from my thirsting lips, so talking about it seemed a bit cruel.

Mike Nichols’ film of Catch-22 was a war film I showed my students many times when I was teaching a course called “Responses to War: An Intellectual and Cultural History” at the University of Adelaide. You can see the film guide I wrote for it here. There was also a major theme in the course on how those who experienced or witnessed military hospitals dealt with it in their creative work such as art (Jacques Callot), novels (Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1928), Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got his Gun (1938, the movie based on the novel appeared in 1971 the year after Nichol’s film on Catch-22), and Heller of course), or eye witness accounts (Florence Nightingale of the Crimean War and Henri Dunant of the Battle of Solferino).

A most depressing view of an army “hospital” was given by the 17th century French engraver Jacques Callot (1592-1635) in his series on “The Miseries of War” about the Thirty Years War. This one is called “The Hospital”

which shows the courtyard of a so-called “hospital”. Those maimed and crippled by war make their way to the entrance lower left where they are met by a priest/doctor. In the Centre is a well next to which is a tub for washing. Cripples are doused with water. To the Right a line of maimed receiving food from a large pot.

See Jacques Callot (1592-1635) and the Miseries of the Thirty Years War which is part of a series on War and Art.

Papers given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, NYC, 21 Sept. 2019.

Was Molinari a true Anarcho-Capitalist?

(1.) “Was Molinari a true Anarcho-Capitalist?: An Intellectual History of the Private and Competitive Production of Security”. A paper given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, NYC, 21 Sept. 2019 [Full paper HTML and PDFSlidesHandout ]. See the abstract of the paper below.

Some Thoughts on an ‘Austrian Theory of Film’: Ideas and Human Action in a Film about Frédéric Bastiat

(2.) “Some Thoughts on an ‘Austrian Theory of Film’: Ideas and Human Action in a Film about Frédéric Bastiat”. A paper given at the Libertarian Scholars Conference, NYC, 21 Sept. 2019. [Full paper in HTML and PDFSlides ] [ ScreenplayIllustrations ].

Abstract: When thinking about the problems a filmmaker faces when trying to make a “movie of ideas” I was struck by the relevance of the works of two economists, that of Ludwig von Mises’ theory of “human action” and Frédéric Bastiat’s theory of “the seen and the unseen,” in helping the filmmaker think about the problems of depicting economic ideas and economic actions in a visual medium like film. It made me think that perhaps we should develop an “Austrian theory of Film” to help us do this. If there can be a feminist theory of film and a Marxist theory of film, why not an Austrian theory of film?

Mises is relevant because according to his theory of human action people act upon the ideas they have about what their interests are (in many cases these are economic interests), what their alternatives might be, and how best they can attempt to satisfy those interests given their scarce resources and other options. In essence then, human action is based upon the ideas people hold. Bastiat is relevant because the ideas people hold in their heads are a textbook example of what is invisible to outsiders, in other words they are “the unseen” perhaps even the unseeable, yet the actions which people take based upon the ideas they have about themselves, their interests, and the world around them can be “seen” in the actions they take.

A few questions I pose and attempt to answer are: can the filmmaker use these theories about economic behavior to make an interesting film with economic themes? can the ordinary film viewer correctly infer the ideas which lie behind a person’s choices and actions as depicted in a film? and how subtle should a screenplay writer or director be in giving the viewer hints (or what I cake visual “nudging”)? I use the screenplay I have have written about Bastiat’s activities during the revolution of 1848 and the Second Republic, called “Broken Windows”, to discuss these and other matters. See the screenplay, “Broken Windows” and the accompanying “illustrated essay” of the life and times of Bastiat.

“Broken Windows”: A Screenplay about the Life and Work of Bastiat


Films about Ideas and Revolutions

This screenplay is designed to be the classical liberal or libertarian equivalent of Warren Beatty’s brilliant but very left-wing movie Reds (1981) about the life of the American communist journalist John Reed (1887-1920) before and during the Russian Revolution of 1917. See his famous account Ten Days That Shook the World (1919).

A number of movies about ideas and revolutions have influenced my thinking about this screenplay. Films explicitly about revolutions include the following:

  • the Bolshevik or Russian Revolution: Warren Beatty, Reds (1981) – see the entry in the Internet Movie Data Base for Reds.
  • the French Revolution: Andrzej Wajda, Danton (1982) – about the rivalry between Danton and Robespierre during the Terror. See my old teaching Study Guide on Danton.

Other films about how ideas can change the world include:

  • Richard Attenborough, Gandhi (1982)
  • Margarethe von Trotta, Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
  • Michael Apted, Amazing Grace (2006)

The screenplay as written (Aug. 2016) is part historical guide to the period (1843-1850), part biography of Bastiat, part history of the 1848 Revolution and the fighting on the street barricades against the Army, and part history of ideas of the growing liberal movement against protectionism, socialism, and bureaucratic Bonapartism. I have used the actual words of the participants in many of the speeches used in the screenplay such as meetings of the French Free Trade Association, speeches in the Chamber of Deputies in the Second Republic, the Peace Congress of Aug. 1849, and elsewhere. In any filmable version of the screenplay these of course would have to be drastically cut, but I include them here for historical purposes. (Some of them are also very good as political speeches, such as Lamartine’s on free trade.

For more on this topic see my manuscript on “The Struggle against Protectionism, Socialism, and the Bureaucratic State: The Economic Thought of Gustave de Molinari, 1845-1855”.

Key Visual Elements: the encirclement of Paris and political art,


I have also tried to reconstruct in the film the physical appearance of Paris when Bastiat went there in 1845. The three visually striking architectural structures which surrounded Paris at the time have since largely disappeared as the Paris suburbs have grown. But when Bastiat went to Paris for his May 1845 welcome by the Political Economy Society one of the newly constructed railroads would have taken him through the following barriers:

  • the ring of 16 newly constructed “star shaped” forts which surrounded the city for its “protection” from the British (Adolph Thiers’ greatest fear);
  • the massive military wall built by Adolphe Thiers 1841-44 (at huge public expense and massive compulsory acquisition of private property), and
  • the old customs wall built in the 1780s to make it easier for the private tax collectors, the Farmers General, to collect state taxes.

Any attempt to film these architectural structures would require considerable CGI resources. (See the map below of the three concentric circles of state power which surrounded Paris and restrained the free movement of its inhabitants.)


A second visual element in the film is the art of Delacroix and the political cartoons of Honoré Daumier. As visual themes or leit motifs for the film I had in my mind Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People on the Barricades” (1830) and Daumier’s cartoon of “Gargantua” (1832) (which landed him in jail for offending the King). There can be seen below. For more details see the collection of illustrations in “Broken Windows: An Illustrated History of the Life and Works of Frédéric Bastiat.”

I didn’t want the film to end on a depressing note – even though it is probably the most suitable emotion to feel at the end of 1850 if you were a classical liberal in Paris – so I tried to think of a more uplifting way to end the movie. I think I found a suitable way to do so (thanks to R.C. Hoiles). Let me know what you think: Email me.

Note: the actual text of this draft of the screenplay retains the original formatting of the application used by many writers (Final Draft 9) to create screenplays for submission. Hollywood has very strict rules concerning the exact format screenplays have to be in. I’m sorry for that inconvenience. It is ugly but it seems to have evolved into the Hollywood equivalent of the QWERTY keyboard.

Additional Information about Bastiat

For additional information about Bastiat see:

A Sample Scene

Here is a sample scene. Bastiat’s work on his economic treatise, Economic Harmonies was repeatedly interrupted by his political activities in the National Assembly, his work in writing a series of what would be 12 anti-socialist pamphlets, and his rapidly declining health. To give him some time to concentrate on his treatise the wealthy manufacturer Casimir Cheuvreux and his wife Hortense who supported the economists’ activities let Bastiat use their hunting lodge at Butard in a forest on the western outskirts of Paris so he could work without distractions. Hortense Cheuvreux also ran a salon from her luxurious home in Paris which Bastiat attended. It was during the summer of 1849 that Bastiat completed volume one of Economic Harmonies (which was published in late 1849 or early 1850) and also wrote an early draft of What is Seen and What is Not Seen, the first chapter of which was the famous “The Broken Window.”



           Early summer 1849. Hortense comes to see how Frederic is
           progressing with his treatise. He is PLAYING HIS CELLO in the
           sitting room when there is a knock at the door of the Hunting

                     Come in Hortense!

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     I didn't mean to disturb you. I've
                     come to see how you are settling
                     in. Do you have everything you

                     Yes, almost everything. I miss my
                     daily newspapers. Thomas used to
                     bring them to me every morning.

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     I'll have them sent to you.

                     I can't thank you enough for
                     helping me like this. It is a
                     beautiful place to read and write. 

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     I thought you would like it.

           Hortense moves over to his desk to look at the papers he had
           been working on. We can see the BOTTLE OF LAUDANUM he uses to
           ease the pain of his coughing on the desk.

                     I know what you are going to ask.
                     How is my treatise coming along?

           She sits in a chair next to the long desk which faces out the
           French doors into the woods.

                               FREDERIC (CONT'D)
                     My plan is to have volume one
                     finished by the end of the summer.
                     That is the first pile. The second
                     pile are notes and sketches for the
                     second volume. Who knows when that
                     will be finished.

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     Guillaumin will be so pleased to
                     get this! And the third pile?

                     You weren't supposed to see that.
                     It is my most recent popular work.

           Hortense picks up the third pile and begins to leaf through

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     So, you have found some more
                     sophisms which need to be refuted.
                     You really are incorrigable!

           She begins to read out a passage.

                               MME CHEUVREUX (CONT'D)
                     "In the sphere of economics an
                     action, a habit, an institution or
                     a law engenders not just one effect
                     but a series of effects. Of these
                     effects only the first is
                     immediate; it is revealed
                     simultaneously with its cause, it
                     is seen. The others merely occur
                     successively, they are not seen; we
                     are lucky if we foresee them." So
                     you are writing about "invisible
                     economics" now?

                     Yes, in a way. Not invisible, but
                     rather, not seen.

                               MME CHEUVREUX
                     I see, if you will pardon the pun.
                     I have to hand it to you Frederic,
                     you have a way with words!

           He laughs.

                     Thanks! I'll have to see if I can
                     use that joke at your next soirée.

           They both laugh and look at each other with tenderness tinged
           with sadness.

The Death of James Garner: “Don’t Mention the War!”

James Garner

[Revised: 21 July, 2014]

I read this morning that the American actor James Garner died yesterday from a stroke at the age of 86. I liked his laid back sardonic characters like the western gambler Bret Maverick and the ex-con private investigator Jim Rockford who preferred to use the barbs of humour rather than violence to overcome his opponents. I remember in one episode of “The Rockford Files” he was driving his car and his passenger pulled out a pistol. Rockford was so affronted by the weapon that he threw it out the window because he refused to use one in his investigations!

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