Trapped on a different very long train!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2021

A movie which didn't get noticed: We're working on the final installment of this week's "Einstein made easy" report. As the later Wittgenstein basically said:

It's easy to create confusion, hard to get it untangled. 

(As we noted yesterday: "We feel as if we had to repair a torn spider's web with our fingers." So Wittgenstein says at one point in Philosophical Investigations, his hopelessly jumbled attempt to offer a road map to cogency.)

We probably should have started with Nova's dumbed-down attempt to explain "the relativity of simultaneity," rather than with Walter Isaacson's more convoluted explication. Sadly, you learn these things as you go.

That said:

The "thought experiment" we're discussing this week concerns "a very long train." So does a superb movie we found ourselves describing yesterday, to a friend, over the telephone.

The film in question is Brad Anderson's weirdly overlooked Transsiberian (2008). Here's the start of Roger Ebert's review:

EBERT (8/14/08): "Transsiberian" is (how shall I put this?) one hell of a thriller.

It's not often that I feel true suspense and dread building within me, but they were building during long stretches of this expertly constructed film. It takes place mostly on board the Transsiberian Express from Beijing to Moscow, at eight days the longest train journey in the world. 

After stumbling upon Transsiberian earlier this year, we recommended it to a friend. His report:

He couldn't watch it all in one sitting, the suspense was so hard to bear.

"The movie, written and directed by Brad Anderson...is constructed with many of the devices and much of the skill of a Hitchcock," Ebert said at a later point in his review. 

We know of only one Hitchcock film which approaches Transsiberian for the building of suspense and dread. That's the transplendent Notorious, in which Hitchcock explores the dynamic by which some men seem to loathe the women they otherwise seem to love.

Transsiberian truly is an "expert construction." Back in 2008, it disappeared without a trace. All this year, it's been sitting amid a collection of junk in our free On Demand listings.

It features a very long, slow train—a train ride which is even longer than the one we're taking this week. If it's expert construction of dread you seek, you should give it a look!

Concerning the cast: Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Ben Kingsley, Kate Mara


31 comments:

  1. "That's the transplendent Notorious, in which Hitchcock explores the dynamic by which some men seem to loathe the women they otherwise seem to love."

    This is not about men loathing the women they otherwise seem to love. It is about a woman who is recruited as a spy and ordered to seduce a nazi by the man who purports to love her. She concludes that he must not love her after all. In the course of the movie, he demonstrates that he does indeed love her. There is nothing about loathing in this film because the woman does not deserve to be considered promiscuous or loathed when she has been ordered to seduce a Nazi as part of her duties as a spy.

    In a sense, the Cary Grant character is pimping Bergman out. He may resent that she followed his orders, but that is a projection of his own lack of caring for someone he professes to love, not evidence that some men loathe the women they otherwise love.

    I have no doubt that Somerby loathes women. He seems to want to generalize that to a tragic situation common to others, evidenced by Cary Grant's feelings in this fictional spy thriller with a very contrived plot and unrealistic circumstances. In real life, men do not loathe the women they love. And people who love each other do not seduce others, even if they are Nazis.

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    1. Give it up. Really.

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    2. Loathing women is called misogyny.

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    3. They were fighting Nazis. The tension and resentment between them that is caused by Grant’s willingness to give her away for the cause and her willingness to be sacrificed (for and BY Grant, as well for the country) is complex, troubling, and rings right.

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    6. Her ‘willingness’ to sacrifice herself for the ‘cause’ involves a sense of coercion contained in the idea of ‘duty’ (to the cause, to one’s country). Grant is also a victim of this. Their sense of ‘duty’ leads both to do something rather grotesquely unnatural, which in turn leads to doubt and suspicion for both of them.

      Bergman’s character is notorious (ie promiscuous) and she is the daughter of a Nazi spy. That makes her vulnerable to coercion by the authorities.

      The characters do love each other, but are forced into psychological coping mechanisms by the duty that is imposed on them. This seems to me a more accurate description of the film than Somerby’s ‘men seeming to loathe the women they seem to love.’

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    7. Hitchcock was interested in exploring the dynamic between the couple. The mission was the means.
      Through it they became a both a sacrifice and a salvation for each other.

      The spy; cold, ironic, focused. The jaded self-destructive daughter of a bad man. His surrender to his increasingly desperate feelings for her. Her compunction to give him all, even her life, despite his seeming contempt. The mission and the redemption it offers her from family history and self-loathing. Him, from his cynicism.

      Enjoy. Marvel at the way Hitchcock let’s this age-old dance play out amidst all the great intrigue.

      He understood this stuff. He got it right.

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    8. How can this be an "age-old dance" when no real people are spies across time. It is an unusual situation, not an age-old one. Where is evidence that she felt any "self-loathing"?

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    9. It’s not situational. The situation is the means of portraying a real world dynamic between the sexes.

      Conveying those things is what good movies do.

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    10. This is not a dynamic, it is misogyny.

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    11. Hello my name is Kallya from USA i want to tell the world about the great and mighty spell caster called Priest Ade my husband was cheating on me and no longer committed to me and our kids when i asked him what the problem was he told me he has fell out of love for me and wanted a divorce i was so heart broken i cried all day and night but he left home i was looking for something online when i saw an article how the great and powerful Priest Ade have helped so many in similar situation like mine he email address was there so i sent him an email telling him about my problem he told me he shall return back to me within 24hrs i did everything he asked me to do the nest day to my greatest surprise my husband came back home and was crying and begging for me to forgive and accept him back he can also help you contact

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      Hello my name is Kallya from USA i want to tell the world about the great and mighty spell caster called Priest Ade my husband was cheating on me and no longer committed to me and our kids when i asked him what the problem was he told me he has fell out of love for me and wanted a divorce i was so heart broken i cried all day and night but he left home i was looking for something online when i saw an article how the great and powerful Priest Ade have helped so many in similar situation like mine he email address was there so i sent him an email telling him about my problem he told me he shall return back to me within 24hrs i did everything he asked me to do the nest day to my greatest surprise my husband came back home and was crying and begging for me to forgive and accept him back he can also help you contact

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      Delete
  2. If a man loathes a woman he seems to love, he needs to see a therapist. If you see this situation in life, the answer is that the man does not love the woman. These so-called love-hate relationships are abusive and unhealthy and not romantic. They are certainly not something to be "explored" by Hitchcock, who is known for having his own abusive, troubled relationships with women, including his actresses. This is not a "dynamic". It is dysfunctional.

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    1. It happens -- regardless of what it means. And I'm not so sure you're right.

      Hitchcock is a storyteller of -- gasp! -- stories that some people might not want to hear. Too bad.

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    2. Ever heard of the concept of "ambivalence"?

      Apparently not.

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    3. "Ambivalence toward women" in a sexual context is used to refer to someone who is gay. In psychodynamic terms, dislike of women may arise from a troubled relationship with one's mother, not the supposed flaws of the women concerned. Some men dislike women because they themselves have difficulty attracting or holding the attention of women, due to their own inadequacies. Some men dislike women because they cannot control them and they believe themselves to be superior to and responsible for women, entitled to control their behavior.

      According to biographers, Hitchcock was a disturbed man when it came to women. That is reflected in his work and his personal life. He mistreated the actresses he worked with. He isn't just telling stories. Despite his skill as a director, he was a deeply flawed human being and his attitudes twoard women are reflected in his work.

      Ambivalence is not normal. It is not a thing. If a man is both attracted to and repelled by women, he needs to see a therapist. It is not normal to loathe the person you supposedly love.

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  3. The title of the film Notorious refers to the Ingrid Bergman character, who is a party girl. Loathing her is slut shaming and the idea that she should be loathed demeans women and denies them autonomy over their sexual behavior (hinted at in the film).

    The idea that there is a dynamic in which men both love and hate the same woman is ridiculous. Attempting to control women's sexuality is part of sexism. Men who do that are abusive, whatever their feelings. The idea that a sexually active woman can be ordered to seduce and marry a Nazi upon command is ugly on its face. Somerby's notion that a "bad" woman should be loathed and that a man is helpless if he loves such a woman, is moronic. In the film, the bad girl is punished by being poisoned, then Cary Grant rescues her after she has been cleansed by that poisoning. This is sick stuff.

    I'm surprised Somerby hasn't pointed out the wrongness of these assumptions instead of layering his own ambivalence onto this plot. This is a film about men punishing women for their sexuality. There is nothing about Hitchcock's art that can redeem it.

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    1. The idea is that the character loathes her. Which is perfectly reasonable.

      Do women like slutty unfaithful partners?

      They never loathe them?

      Wow!

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    2. And again, that "ambivalence" thing seems to be beyond the grasp of the Bob-haters here.

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    3. When you loathe someone, you do not love them. Men do lust after women they may dislike, but that is not love. Love implies acceptance of someone with all of their flaws and previous experiences. The idea that a woman with previous sexual experience is tainted, someone to be loathed, is sexist. The whole notion that this notorious woman should be loathed is sexist.

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    4. A party girl isn't cheating on anyone. She is having a good time, much as men do. The Ingrid Bergman character thought that Cary Grant loved her, but he sent her out to seduce Claude Rains. She decided that Cary didn't love her after all because he sent her to be with another man. That is a reasonable conclusion. Meanwhile, Cary Grant thought that if Ingrid loved him, she would refuse his orders. Clearly there is a lack of communication involved. Ingrid then suffers for her prior sins and is purified so that Cary can rescue her. There is a lot of 1940s sexism in that. Movies in that time period explicitly required that wrongdoing and immorality be punished by the film's end.

      None of that has anything to do with ambivalence or a loathing-love dynamic (Somerby's terms). It is a classic miscommunication and misunderstanding, coupled with a lack of trust. Insecurity. Calling this "ambivalence" is incorrect, since ambivalence means something different than what occurred in this film.

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  4. Excellent break - I've checked out Somerby's recommendations, and have not been disappointed so far.

    6:11, try to read with comprehension.

    "...by which some men seem..."

    I get it. Somerby is just a bit too nuanced for you. He's got an ulterior motive, to spread his loathing across the known Universe!

    Moron.

    Leroy

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    1. Somerby nuanced? You're joking.

      Delete
  5. When a man loves a woman:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwPxhWU1koE

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    1. If she's bad, he can't see it
      She can do no wrong
      Turn his back on his best friend
      If he put her down

      When a man loves a woman...

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  6. "a train ride which is even longer than the one we're taking this week."

    Clearly Somerby knows what he has been doing to us all week. The question is why? Does he think he is punishing us or is he trying to drive everyone away so that he can shut down his blog, or is this some sort of Andy Kaufman joke or performance art?

    I think it is clear that Somerby both loves and loathes his readers. The loathing is ascendant this week.

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    ReplyDelete

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  9. Hello to everyone out here, I am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me … My name is Susan Christian , I live in London, UK. we got married for more than 9 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do, i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Emu for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 24 hours my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still love me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that Dr Emu casted on him that make him come back to me today, me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Emu for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Emu , if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: emutemple@gmail.com or you can contact him through his website https://emutemple.wordpress.com/ fb page Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341

    ReplyDelete