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Banned In China

Monday, April 27, 2009

Movie Report

We watched Heir to an Execution yesterday. Got it from the library it is a movie made by Ivy Meeropol the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. It tells both a good deal of the story, but I don't think that you would want to go here for the general outline. It is more of a very personal inspection of the charges and the affect on the families.

It is pretty amazing to watch some of the older people who knew the Rosenbergs. They are for the most part still more than a little progressive. Including one very dapper 103 year old guy. One woman who had also served time for being a communist explained how it was that the Rosenbergs did not name names to save their lives: "It was just something they couldn't do. It was not a part of their make up." Of course, if one has any self awareness at all one must wonder how they would act if put in a similar position. The 103 year old was on a list that Julius was given (according to what he was later told by the Rosenbergs lawyer) the sentence could have been reduced, but he refused to identify anyone.

The effect on the family was devastating. It still plays on people who are fifty years and a generation removed. One guy who's father changed the family name to Roberts ended up weeping because he was not there for the family even though of course, it happened long before he could have been there. His mother had refused to take the two sons of the Rosenbergs and she apparently kept going over and over her moral failure (something she was clearly aware of) with her son. There were several brothers and sisters and none of them stepped forward to help. No one but the one son/cousin would even talk to the film maker.

The fear and paranoia encouraged by the government's lies and made up evidence, increased the hysterical fear and hatred of the "other" which the Rosenbergs represented.

It does not seem to have destroyed the immediate family. They seem strong and committed to progressive politics still.

I was not expecting to find this film as compelling as I did. Watching what the rulers of our country are willing to do to further their ends and how that effects a family in a most personal way is really painful. Like all good political art it makes one think.

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