Back to the future

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    Spotlight Audio 3/2021
    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: Back to the future

    British film director Christopher Nolan loves to challenge his audiences with thought-provoking stories. In Britain Today, Colin Beaven wonders if Nolan’s recipe for success might also work for some action-oriented British institutions.

    Christopher Nolan’s latest film is a superb science-fiction thriller. But, as with all his films, the story isn’t easy to follow. Even the Batman trilogy was above my head. Tenet, his new film, is set in a world where criminals have learned to use time travel.

    So, soldiers fighting the bad guys have to be clever: half of them move forwards through time; the other half walk backwards. This makes them look like extraStatist(in)extras in a sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus — a cult comedy series on British TV in the 1970s, with surreal and silly humour.

    I doubt that this will be the new normal for action movies, though. I can’t see James Bond walking to the bar backwards in No Time to Die when he wants another vodka martini. But will real armies recognize the potential and start using surreal humour to soften their image? It’ll be a while before we see tankPanzertanks driving backwards for a bit of May DayMaifeiertagMay Day fun, but what about March Day parades, where soldiers could march backwards to appear more family-friendly?

    And the secret services could be less secret, with open days at Vauxhall Cross — MI6 (Military Intelligence Section 6)britischer GeheimdienstMI6 headquartersHauptquartierheadquarters — on the banks of the Thames in London. We’ve seen it from the outside in Bond movies; a proper guided tour would be fascinating.

    So would a summer fête at, say, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, with all the usual activities, like face-painting for kids, a cake stallVerkaufsstandstall and perhaps even a knobblyknubbeligknobbly-knees competition.

    This is totally unrealistic, of course. The last time one of these secretive organizations tried anything unserious, it wasn’t a success. It was long ago — back in the days when I used to play the recorderBlockflöterecorder.

    I had joined a group that played Renaissance music and we were sometimes hired to perform. Our most prominent client was the RAF (Royal Air Force)Königl. LuftwaffeRAF Stützpunktstationstation, where Strike Command was based, which was responsible for most of the UK’s military aircraft. While waiting for a nuclear holocaustatomare Massenvernichtungnuclear holocaust, staff there had little to do except eat. We had been hired to play the background music at one of their dinners.

    I know, we should have been playing for the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common, where they were protesting against US cruise missileMarschflugkörpercruise missiles. But they had already booked the Berlin Philharmonic. (Yes, I am joking.)

    Our group wanted to go in historical costume, to look more professional. All I could find was part of a Batman outfit, and I had to borrow a pair of tightsStrumpfhosetights to complete it. The tricky part was going to the gents (UK) (ifml.)Herrentoilettegents, especially when I found myself standing next to an officer in his elegant, formal uniform.

    I could tell he wasn’t impressed. But he should have been, for I was already one step ahead of Mr Nolan. Whenever I played the recorder, people thought I was playing the music backwards.

    Having come face to face with Cold War realities that day, I decided to make the world a safer place — I stopped playing the recorder.

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