Cinema: Overburdened Island

The historical film as a metaphor for contemporary ills has become an overworked convenience. The Great White Hope failed because it tried to use the tragic plight of Heavyweight Jack Johnson to illustrate the ugliness of today's racial strife. In its bloody account of an 1864 massacre of a Cheyenne tribe, Soldier Blue announced in labored fashion that the U.S. military is more barbaric than it cares to admit. But whatever their weaknesses, both films were at least rooted in historical truth. Burn!, by the usually brilliant Italian Director Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle...

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