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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Slaughterhouse-Five


- Dresden after the fire bombing of WWII

I ony just noticed that Kurt Vonnegut has died. I've read a few of his books, but the one I remember best, thanks to having also seen the movie, is the science fiction novel Slaughterhouse-Five.

The book and film were of worth to me, if only to inform me, historical illiterate that I am, of the fire bombing of Dresden in WWII ... Vonnegut put some of his real life experiences into the story, as he had been captured during the Battle of the Bulge and was a prisoner of war held in Dresden during the bombing. Here's a little of what Wikipedia says of this movie, which featured the music of Glenn Gould .....

The 1972 drama was written by Stephen Geller and directed by George Roy Hill. It stars Michael Sacks (in his first film), Ron Leibman, and Valerie Perrine, and features Eugene Roche, Sharon Gans, Holly Near, and Perry King ..... The film won the Prix du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival, as well as a Hugo Award, and Saturn Award. Both Hill and Geller were nominated for awards by their respective guilds ....

Both the film and the book tell the story of Billy Pilgrim, who seems to be randomly zapping back and forth through time into his own past and future. Much of the stroy takes place in the prisoner of war camp, an unused slaughter house in Dresden where Billy was held in WWII, though he also visits a future in which he's kept prisoner in an alien planet's zoo. And he revisits his murder as well, which he doesn't see as tragic, because he's learned in his time travels that everything exists simultaneously ... in a sense, we live forever.

The book was and is considered controversial due to the use of profanity and the description of the bombing of Dresden ... it appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 ... yet both the book and the movie are interesting enough to recommend for their investigation of free will, fatalism, the perceived worth of life-bits unsequenced, and as an eye witness account of one of history's awful events.


2 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Hadn't read anything by KV so thanks for that "news flash" - kept hearing him briefly mentioned in the media with his death.

Digressing, don't you find all those scenarios where everything's supposed to be OK - here because everything really happens at once, for other people it's alternate universes or maybe past and future lives - less than satisfactory? I mean, is it just me, or isn't it kind of like "What's the use if I can't even remember it or be aware of it??"

How is the simultaneous/alternate universe/future-past life person really "me" if there's no connection with my memory? Isn't memory basic to identity? That's the tragedy, for example, with Alzheimer's.

9:24 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Paul,

yes, I agree - I do find it unsatisfactory. Sometimes it seems like the effort to make everything bearable as it is, is more important to people than the effort to change it into something better. I want things to be good, now, here, which is probably the sign of a serious character flaw :-)

10:51 AM  

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