The Scarlet and the black  the scarlet



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This is a very interesting movie primarily for how it all ends.
Posited as based on real events, it depicts the character
flaws of a German Commanding Officer who is sent to rule over
Rome as the German occupation in Italy as depicted, came into
being at the turn of events following Italy's capitulation in favour
of joining in with the "Allies" instead, abandoning the axis power
alliance Germany had also made with Japan.

Christopher Plummer plays a character shown to be brutal and
without scruples of any sort in his dealings with the people of
Rome, most of all the Jewish population whom he squeezes
for a huge amount of gold along with a million Italian Lire in
order to keep them "safe" from deathcamps - of course we find
he abrogates this agreement, going against his word almost
the moment the ransom (as it were) is paid to the German army.

The point of contention then becomes as we see at the end -
Christopher Plummer can hardly ask for mercy for himself as
he himself admits, as the war becomes lost in his bid to remain
in Italy. That said, he asks the Church, whose leadership under
Gregory Peck, to take account of the innocence of Plummer's
German wife and children, and take them to safety, as he asks
this on the basis of what he calls the "humanity" that the church
professes to have to show (and ostensibly part of why the
Germans from the start of the movie seem to show deference
to the Pope and the role of the Church in maintaining the
occupation in a diplomatic manner of engagement in order to
show respect for the neutrality of the Vatican as expected by
convention, along with co-operation for the occupying German
forces, something the Germans expect too in return for
maintaining even the appearance of respect for the Church
in Rome, the Vatican in fact and certainly some idea of it does
seem to be real at the beginning of this movie until it is
determined that the Vatican is aiding escaped prisoners
against German army orders.

Monseigneur (Gregory Pecks honourary title in the Church) is not
impressed with Christopher Plummer's call to humanity at the end
of the action in this movie, as he says to Plummer that MEN have
been hurt by the German army under Plummer, and that Plummer's
German children and his German wife included are in fact also
(guilty and deserve no mercy) "as they are a part of Plummer's
life too". Peck therefore refuses to show mercy we expect of any
decent human being towards innocent women and children - but he
shows no scruples either. Plummer responds with "I know about
you and your Church". "I know all about you" (probably referring
to the church heirarchy and rank and file members own record of
abuse towards children etc

He the concludes by declaring to the Church Monseigneur (played
by Gregory Pecks) that "we are no different - the church from the
third Reich" in that neither can profess to be any different on the
matter of "humanity" (human rights or related such decency as it
were) just as Peck is proving by what he says and does in rejecting
mercy for innocent children and their innocent mother, despite a
plea from their concerned father and husband that is.

Michael Rizzo Chessman