Cinema: An Oscar For Elia Kazan

Our critic makes the case for a controversial but great director

For Hollywood, history has always been what it likes to call "underlying material," a lode of legend, conveniently located in the public domain, from which it can quarry inspirational tales of resistance to tyranny, redemption from injustice. From The Life of Emile Zola to Braveheart, audiences bedeviled by the ambiguities of modern life have derived moral instruction and emotional uplift from these transformations of the complex past into simple, glowing metaphorical guides to right behavior.

In reality, of course, history is not a movie. It resists simple plotting and easy moralizing. It is, in fact, a script trapped forever in development...

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