The movie is about the battle in which our great leader Tito and his partisans outwitted the Germans and their local collaborators, crossing the river Neretva to escape encirclement. Afterward, Tito declared the representation of the great battle very realistic. But I saw the film at Kino Arena, the movie theatre next door to our apartment building, in Sarajevo. My parents apparently believed that Yugoslav pride would protect me; it was the first movie I ever saw all by myself.
It was glorious. On the wide screen, the battle was as real as could be; the thunder of German artillery shelling the refugees went right through my chest; and when the freedom-loving people sang in defiance, I was proud to be a Yugoslav boy.
I wept, too, and subsequently developed a postmortem crush on Dana. Back then, I was the perfect moviegoer. Much of the power of cinema is in this visual stimulation, which overwhelms the mind with emotion, forcing the viewer to suspend judgment. This is why all the ideologically committed regimes—the Nazis, the Soviets, the Yugoslavs—have been willing to invest in film production. Still, one would imagine that American auteur cinema, rooted in private enterprise and inherently antithetical to groupthink, is the opposite of propaganda, which by its very nature always projects and endorses the structures of power.
Among them, Alma distinguishes herself by refusing to be used and discarded by the couturier. But, for all her relative agency, she exists only within the world of Woodcock.
We have no idea who she was before entering it, where she might have come from, or what she might have wanted from her life. Soon after she meets Woodcock, he measures her for a dress. When she discovers her function—to feed the hunger, if perversely—love reigns eternal.
Like Woodcock, he gives meaning to everything and everyone lucky enough to be inside his domain. And, like Woodcock, Anderson creates sumptuously crafted artifacts, inside of which cryptic messages about himself—phantom threads—are stitched. If they do, they might at least be challenged and criticized in the forum of public opinion. Owen Gleiberman of Variety was a notable exception. Nor were they concerned that, in stark contrast with the Englishman upon whom the mighty House of Woodcock is built, Alma has no past nor origin of her own.
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