Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Fountainhead

I have to watch the Fountainhead (1948) each year with my post grad students and each year I moan and groan along with them all the way through, but each time somehow at different bits. This year it was particularly the startled bunny in the headlights expression of Domenique Francon (Patricia Neal- above) every time it is demanded she make any emotional response to almost anything. This undoubted paralysis of fear no doubt speaks volumes for the concept of objectivism in the first place, and offers an excellent opportunity for that excellent joke; 'How many objectivists does it take to change a light bulb...........(pause).....ONE!'
However this year I was struck equally by the question of why the hell Gail Wynand shoots himself. Having just lost the girl BUT made a pile of money by selling The Banner the second of the prime beings (but of course the more flawed) should by rights, in anything other than the most crass avowal of the survival of the fittest, slink off in to the long grass to lick his wounds, even stags in the highlands do that. Instead he GIVES EVERYTHING TO ROARK! Life, even an objectivists life, should surely not be mistaken for an all or nothing poker game.
The next and last scene of course makes it clear there can be only one king of the castle, as Roark stands atop to receive the finally supplicant Dominique as she shoots up his mighty construction. If you don't laugh at this scene there is something wrong with you, but when you've stopped laughing, what on earth can we make of such blatant totalitarianism which, speaking mathematically, confirms that in such regimes, there is only need for ONE. When we remember that we must surely recall and recoil at that haunting scream of Rudolf Hess in 1934 'Adolf Hitler is Germany and Germany is Adolf Hitler'.

No comments:

Post a Comment