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January 10, 2005

Here's to treason

National Treasure with Nicholas Cage and Diane Kruger is part crime-caper, part Indiana Jones Meets Paul Revere, and it’s a lot of fun. This Jerry Bruckheimer action film slickly touches every chord. Treasure of the Knights Templar. Masonic plots by our Founding Fathers. Clues to unimaginable wealth and artifacts. Touches of romance, quick humor, unflagging sincerity, and fine casting.

What’s not to like about saving American treasure?

Cage was spot-on, in every single scene. A perfect mix of intelligence, sincerity, fanaticism, and courage. Jon Voight in a surprising return to real acting. Harvey Keitel as Harvey Keitel, having fun as an FBI man saying, “Somebody’s got to go to jail.”

Of course critics panned it.

Everybody having fun comparing it to The Da Vinci Code. Of that, Roger Ebert says:

This new Jerry Bruckheimer production is so similar in so many ways to the plot of the Dan Brown best seller that either (a) the filmmakers are the only citizens of the entertainment industry who have never heard of The Da Vinci Code, no, not even while countless people on the set must have been reading the book, or (b) they have ripped it off. My attorneys advise me that (a) is the prudent answer.

That I have read the book is not a cause for celebration. It is inelegant, pedestrian writing in service of a plot that sets up cliff-hangers like clockwork, resolves them with improbable escapes and leads us breathlessly to a disappointing anticlimax. I should read a potboiler like The Da Vinci Code every once in a while, just to remind myself that life is too short to read books like The Da Vinci Code.

Ebert didn't like the movie any better, but that putz has never understood real movie goers, which is why he writes down to them. Real Americans don’t mind seeing landmark monuments and stuff like that. It’s our Liberty Bell, you schmuck, let us look at it if we want to.

James Sanford at the Kalamazoo Gazette says the film isn't the North by Northwest of a new generation. It's just easy escapism. With Sean Bean as the villain, a role which he does quite well. Anyway, the film was fun, filled with action and scenery, and of course it was food for thought.

Nicholas Cage toasting champagne: "Here's to treason!" And aye, making history real to me, reminding us our Founding Fathers would have met terrible fates had they failed. Drawing and quartering. Hanging. Disembowelment. All that stuff you don't read about, from an age where evidently everybody made awesome speeches just before hanging.

“I regret that I have but one life to give for this country.”

That, friends and neighbors, is a True Patriot. Just another troublemaker that Brit troops hanged rather than deal with later. No quibbling about sentence. Just a defiant, now-historic reminder — this cause outweighs all sacrifices.

It’s nice to see folks reminded, nobody just handed this to us. The Founding Fathers and the troops suffered terribly. Some lost everything. But our nation survived, because of the one thing National Treasure pointedly overlooks.

The Declaration of Independence is our true national treasure.

We came mostly as indentured servants or other steerage, trailing the Mayflower folks who today still preen about that in their society circles. We were the laborers and farmers, the builders and inventors, the wives and daughters and sisters and mothers. We’re the real America which moved in while the self-styled gentry wasn’t looking.

Our melting pot built the nation’s churches and monuments, its homes and colleges and shops. Our children had children had children. We fought in more wars, one against ourselves. We are now incredibly more populated than our Founding Fathers could possibly have foreseen. Our clothing, language and way of life is changed, but at least we still share the American Dream.

Horatio Alger, Jr. said it best in a book title, Strive and Succeed. We come to do as well as we are able. We've been coming here for centuries now, and although the American system is not perfect, it still beats what’s way behind in second place.

The Declaration affirms our inalienable right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It did not, nor does it now, promise this pursuit would be easy. What it says is, Here we are, world. America. You are free to come here and try to succeed.

So many took up that offer. So many will in the future.

Here we are, world. America. Land of opportunity.

Our British masters hanged Patrick Henry for believing in that.

Posted by Weaselteeth at January 10, 2005 06:54 PM


"The Declaration affirms our inalienable right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It did not, nor does it now, promise this pursuit would be easy."

Truth! Nor does it promise happiness, only guarantees the right to pursue it. So many of the do-gooders out there are trying to claim that equality of opportunity should mean equality of results. It does not!

Posted by: naleta at January 10, 2005 08:26 PM

I want to see that movie, it looked pretty good from the previews to me. Thanks for the lowdown.


Posted by: Mixed Humor at January 12, 2005 06:27 PM

Well, WT, you definitely inspired me to check it out the minute it goes to DVD.

Posted by: capitalist_pig at January 12, 2005 11:25 PM

The media critics dismissed any possible notion of patriotism in this, and went straight for the many logical flaws that actually are there to be seen. But Bruckheimer did set out to (and succeeded in) reminding viewers that the American Founding Fathers were anything but average men, crafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and its amendments which followed.

I'd like to think this post would be remembered for its second half, but will settle for having written the first. Let the viewer decide what means the most to them---but do attend this film. Fun is fun, and Hollyweird has lately given us so little of it.

Posted by: WT at January 12, 2005 11:30 PM