Best Subsidised Blair-Hating Film

John Rentoul

ghost Best Subsidised Blair Hating FilmPublicly-funded Blair-hating film wins publicly-funded European Film Academy prize. The story of The Ghost, Roman Polanksi’s film (right) of Robert Harris’s self-loathing book, gets worse. I have previously reported John Rosenthal’s discovery that the film received nearly €5m in taxpayer subsidy.

It turns out that this figure, mostly from German taxpayers but including €590,000 from EU taxpayers generally, is actually more than €5.5m.

And the film this month won “Best Picture” at the European Film Academy awards. It also took the awards for “European Director” (Polanski), “European Screenwriter” (Polanski and Robert Harris), “European Actor” (Ewan McGregor), “European Composer,” and “European Production Designer”.

The European Film Academy is mainly funded by the German National Lottery, but also receives money from the German taxpayer and also, through the EU Media programme, from British taxes.

It is bad enough that German taxes subsidise anti-American propaganda, but for British taxes to subsidise a film demonising a British prime minister is worse; that they also pay for it to win awards is insufferable.

Rosenthal summarises the film (I have read the book but not seen the film) thus:

The film is a kind of amalgam of “good European” pieties (e.g., the righteousness of the International Criminal Court) and delirious anti-American phantasms. It follows the trials and tribulations of a ghostwriter working on the memoirs of a former British prime minister. In the midst of his assignment, the ghostwriter gradually uncovers the “appalling truth” — as the official synopsis puts it — that his employer had been under the control of the CIA while residing at 10 Downing Street. Any resemblances between the fictional former prime minister and the real former Prime Minister Tony Blair are clearly intended. For good measure, the film has the “Blair” character assassinated by the father of a British soldier who was killed in Iraq.

Previous posts on this subject here.

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  • Jake_K

    Thanks – that was wrong too.

    To your point (1) how do I know that blair lied? If nothing else WHERE ARE THE IRAQI WMD??????

    Your point (2) – If it helps, you might like to consider taking the same undergraduate (LLB) and postgraduate (LLM) law degrees I did. Though to be fair that is somewhat of an overkill – simply being able to read the plain English of the Nuremberg Principles quote Amin set out for you should be plenty.

    For a somewhat more nuanced response, “international law”, heree meaning international criminal law, is not all that more complexed than national law. The problem is in enforcing it – it currently serves as a useful tool for the West to bash various African etc regimes (not saying they don’t deserve it, mind) but God forbid that venal, malicious and deliberate war criminals like Blair and his US co-conspirators be charged….

    And to return to an earlier theme – I am not seeking to convince you. I know you are beyond that. But with the same bemused but human sympathy I would have extended a teenage girl who wept and clung to her posters when her favourite boy band broke up, when wikileaks or even the war criminal himself (remember that “deploy other arguments” slip?) finally remove the scales from your eyes, I do hope you will get over it in time.

  • stikinsekt

    You point out that German tax money has helped fund this work of fiction, and opine that this should not have happened. It seems you are suggesting that arts grants in Germany should be granted with political approval only – a very odd suggestion from a liberal commentator.
    Also, it’s not entirely clear why the funding of the European Film Academy is strictly relevant (unless your logic is that the awarding of prizes, or the panel, should in some way be ‘overseen’. Surely you don’t think this?). In fact, the mulitiple awards go some way to justify funding for the film in terms of artistic merit. Another justification would be box office returns. Political convenience is not and should not be a factor – but it’s clear that we disagree on this.
    I admit, your logic is consistent. But very worrying (on this and other matters).

    P.S In the film the ‘Blair’ figure is a dupe and it is the ‘Booth’ character who works for the CIA.

  • BlairSupporter

    @ stikinsekt,

    On first reading you make a valid point. But like many things in life “first reading” is not always sufficient.

    While I imagine that Rentoul does not agree with arts grants having “political approval” (I don’t, in principle, of course not) the money given to The Ghost(Writer) production is clearly of a different magnitude.

    Here we have a story about – and let’s make no bones about it – a former leader of Britain. In the end he is shot dead by the irate father of a deceased soldier in the Iraq war. And, what is more, the assassinated PM’s wife is portrayed as having been a CIA agent all along, even fooling her husband. So she was, still is, a traitor to Britain. We see that the “widow” is still that “tool” of the USA when even the honest, hard-working ghostwriter himself gets a one-way ticket in the final scene.

    We are left with little doubt that Bush’s USA, Tony Blair and even moreso his wife, are evil so-and-sos. No ifs, no buts.

    Ongoing, in real life, is an Inquiry into the Iraq war at which the said former prime minister would give his evidence (twice in the end). Also ongoing are moves to persuade the present government that an inquest should be held on David Kelly’s death. Also ongoing are the ALL KNOWING onliners who insist that Blair was mad, bad, or sad, probably all three. Also ongoing are threats against his life by various oddities – I wrote about one at my site from a London barrister know as Geek Lawyer. Recently there was an Albanian who was charged with possessing a gun outside Blair’s home, and a few years ago a gang of Islamist radicals had Blair and Brown in their sights.

    All of this should have given the Germans pause for thought in handing out cash to Polanski’s movie (ignore, if you like, the fact that Polanski was a sex-crimes exile from US justice.)

    The Ghost was built around and based on Robert Harris’s novel The Ghostwriter, also based on Harris’s disillusionment with Tony Blair. This was personal. And this was well known, and I’d have imagined one or two of those deciding on German taxpayers’ money might have bothered to read it, if they hadn’t already.

    Perhaps we arty types in Britain should now make a movie on Schroeder and have him stopping a bullet at the end, just as we conclude that he was actually a tool of Chirac whose enmity for Blair and envy of Britain meant that Blair must be destroyed politically to keep Britain’s influence well on the edges of the EU.

    As if, eh?

    We’d never invent such a tale, because it doesn’t tell the story the arty-types, so-called liberals want us to hear. That story: –

    that the Iraq war was wrong, Blair was wrong to support Bush, and the USA and all allies involved went in for all the wrong reasons, oil and of course, a New World Order colonialism.

    Of course we shouldn’t look too far back in history in our film-making research or we might open ourselves up to some home-truths – like Napoleon and Hitler, two of Europe’s most notorious tyrants, born and bred in France/Germany. Or even to the truth that the Israelis were in the land of Palestine centuries, if not millennia before the Arabs.

    Now where would Israeli/Palestinian/Islam input rear its ugly head in all of this?

    Again – as if.

    Can’t have that now, can we? Let’s be honest!

    But if anyone wants me to invent such a tale, and there are plenty of angles, they know where to find me.

  • stikinsekt

    A quote from the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) website suggests that funding was perhaps not out of the ordinary:

    “the DFFF has supported 302 projects in all categories and genres with grants totalling 178.1 million euros.”

    So an average of around 600,000 Euros per project. Bearing in mind that most of these projects would have no global film stars or chance of a global audience, and therefore attract less future investment, 3.5 million Euros (the amount contributed by DFFF) seems like a steal.

    So I disagree – this is not ‘clearly of a different magnitude’, it is proportionate.

    You mentioned that Robert Harris’ falling out with Blair was well-known. I agree, but don’t see why (or how) this should have prevented the film being made. Nor am I comfortable with the idea that politicians, or those with political concerns, should keep film-makers in check – a point I don’t think you’ve countered effectively.

    If, for instance, a million selling author wrote a story about a ‘Chirac’-like politican (there must be a story there), and the film was being made by an acclaimed director in the UK, should funding be turned down on grounds other than artistic merit and financial viability? What would your response be if that happened?

    Faceless, gutless bureaucrats bowing to EU pressure, I expect. Or worse – partisan censorship.

    NB. I leave out the rape charges from this argument for clarity – it is the political aspect that Rentoul was taking issue with, and which I was responding to. But I take your point.

  • BlairSupporter

    OK stikinset,

    I understand and largely agree with your argumentation here. I suppose my gut instinct emanating from my reaction to the book and film is that given that Blair is still in a precarious position personally and politically as regards his political decisions, I strongly disapprove of the suggestions in the way the Blair character was seen off at the end. Probably if he’d only been carted off to the Hague as in that stupid TV film, The Trial of Tony Blair, I wouldn’t have complained. But to have him shot? Or blown to bits as in Harris’s book? No, I don’t think so. That should not be seen as an acceptable outcome especially since we are also left with the feeling that perhaps his wife was spying for the US against us, and she has the last laugh.

    So if we wrote a movie around Chirac and/or Schroeder ending up dead because of a political decision I think in principle that that too would be reprehensible. But, given that Blair has already been sacrificed on the big screen to a “cause” (the anti-war brigade) I’m up for it! If only to get back on the Germans (and French) who I DO think worked together to keep Blair out of the EU presidency.

  • JohnJustice

    Re. Jake_K’s question below about where the WMD are.

    For the umpteenth time, a lie is a KNOWN untruth. At the time, Blair had every reason to believe that Saddam still had WMD (for reasons I’m tired of repeating). At worst his belief was therefore a mistake NOT a lie.

    When will you guys stop lying about it?

  • BlairSupporter

    They never will, John Justice. Y’see they “KNOW” that Blair lied. I wish I knew half as much as they do about everything. Fun, isn’t it, communicating with the omniscient?

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