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Guest Opinion

Sticking with County Theater despite its leftward creep


I went to the County Theater in Doylestown last week to see Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 film “Ran” — his rendition of Shakespeare’s, “King Lear” in medieval Japan. Great art like this is a rare gift, and Kurosawa is on that top shelf of givers, like Shakespeare, Rumi, and Dylan — artists who have consistently gifted us timeless masterpieces, by somehow channeling a higher power.

“Ran” is not only a great film, but it is a film for our times. It is even more relevant now than when it was released 40 years ago. On one level, “Ran” is a statement of how fast social dissolution can happen and cruelty can spread when greed for wealth and power overwhelms a society. It is also statement about the power of extreme love and extreme hate, and the age-old truth that violence begets violence.

There were only about 50 in the audience. This is unfortunate since “Barbie” recently filled the theater for two or three months, and made their fiscal year a success. But the entire audience was riveted and silent for the entire 2 hour and 40 minute film. You could hear a pin drop. Unfortunately there was no chance to talk to audience members after the film to help digest what had just happened to us. (One does not watch a Kurosawa film — it happens to you, and afterwards you must digest the event.)

I was disappointed at the small audience. I thought it might be sold out, since it was a one-time showing and because “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was sold out a couple of months ago. Instead of being depressed about the small turnout, perhaps I should be thankful that there is at least some aesthetic sensibility left in this culture.

I was reluctant to renew my membership for a number of reasons.

First of all, the theater has become insufferably “woke,” and this has imposed a form of censorship on communication, and, worst of all, film selection. Roman Polanski is probably the greatest living filmmaker, but his films can no longer be shown in a woke community. “Barbie,” a fluff film, rather insulting to men, played for months, while “The Sound of Freedom,” perhaps the most important film of the year, wasn’t shown at all. In short, politics has overwhelmed aesthetics, and that disturbs me to the point that I question continuing my support of the theater.

Of course the theater has to make enough money to keep operating, so its concession to Barbie-ism is to a great extent a reflection of the times and the sensibilities of the general public.

But it is also true that one important role of the theater is to educate and raise the artistic appreciation of the community, and that may sometimes cause some to be offended. I don’t think the County Theater is doing enough public education.

Anyway, I rejoined because where else can you experience a cinematic gem like “Ran” on the big screen, and the girls at the concession stand “loved” my “Free Palestine” hat.

Gus Linton lives in East Rockhill.

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