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‘The Molly Maguires’ (1970) – film essay

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There are two kinds of morality: one is speculative morality by which your thinking directs you to find the truth about the way things are. The other is practical morality, in which your eyes dictate you to find the applicability of your moral precepts to real-life situations. Since your ultimate end is happiness in life, you choose what deems to be reasonably advantageous means to achieve the purpose. Now here is where your moral dilemma arises from a crossroad of modus vivendi and modus operandi often directive of ego, the appetite of the sense, in the sovereign of free will beyond the boundary of Natural Law.

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The question of conditional morality in the face of life’s challenges is the thematic context of “The Molly Maguires” (1970), an American film directed by Martin Ritt. It is a drama of the secret society of Irish immigrant mineworkers led by Jack Kehoe (played by Sean Connery) battling to better conditions in the Irish immigrant community of coal miners in the 1870’s Pennsylvania. The story begins when Pinkerton Detective James McParlan (played by Richard Harris), employed to infiltrate the organization, arrives at the poverty-stricken mining village. McParlan himself is also an Irish immigrant from Ulster and sees his fellow compatriots slaving away at the worst working conditions in the gate of a subterranean pit of anthracite with the danger of death always lurking in all wither. The proverb of “Blood is thicker than water” may have smeared in his tortured muscles because McParlan can not be immune from the anger and vengeance that binds the Mollies together as he shares his sweats and laughs with them. The Mollies sabotage the means of production in their ingeniously effective ways and even kill the members of the powers that be if necessary, to deliver their resentment to the oppressors of failed wishes and frustrated dreams in the necessity of meager livelihood. The biblical message of “Refrain from anger, turn from wrath. Do not fret” rings hollow in the selfishness of leisured life that has no regard for those whose fortune’s malice overthrows their states.

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The moral dilemma in which McParlan finds himself results from a clash of his id, speculative intellect, and ego, practical intellect, that binds him in the natural inclination to happiness, which he intends to obtain from a love of his landlady and prestige of social standing. Besides, as the fellowship of the Mollies enters a realm of his newfound fraternity of brotherhood, McParlan forces himself to subject natural human feelings to a rationalization of thinking under the sway of the reason for success. He sets his virtue by compromising moral precepts to realistic means of life in choosing what deems to be the most practical way of achieving his ultimate ends via a chariot of ambition without the charioteer.

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This film does not turn out to be a grand social movie that its synopsis seems to present but a compelling drama of human nature and actions in contemplation of what constitutes moral actions. This film is not only about the Irish immigrant coal miners but also about those whose precious dreams and wishes are hard to materialize in the harsh reality of life. You will see that values are variable, and that virtue is a settled way of performing what you think right. Perhaps, Oscar Wile is right in saying, “Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.” Nevertheless, one thing is sure that you cannot do an immoral act for moral reasons, even if every human action is just as such right, come what may.

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Euphoria

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I ride on the wings of the wind

Flying high o’er the mountains

Across the deep, vast oceans

Touching the lovely fluffy clouds

Breasting the pure sea breeze

In the soft sweet hues of sunset

Lingering in the dazzling twilight

And find my star shining bright.

Beautiful Santa Barbara

 

 

To see the pretty summer sky is poetry breathing life. The world outside books provide the optical pleasure that sparks up otherwise monotonous landscapes of everyday life. Indeed, it was such a beautiful morning that would make you forgive your persona non-grate with the love of mankind. It was a kind of jolly morning that made the whole world seem kin.  So Tuco took a lovely jaunt in the beautiful historic Santa Barbara County Courthouse this morning. He went there alone in the bliss of solitude that always flashed upon his inward eye for creative inspiration. One casual glimpse at Tuco might give you an impression of an ordinary guy with beer-belly spending his evening time and Sundays in front of a TV set. Contrary to his embonpoint, avuncular physiognomy, Tuco is an artist, a poet, a thinker. He is, what Edgar Allam Poe would call without hesitation, an intellect with passion.

 

Tuco chose the Santa Barbara Country because its Spanish colonial architectural style reminds him of the familiar civic landscapes of his childhood hometown. The Courthouse, located at 1100 Anacapa Street, in downtown Santa Barbara, California, is famous for the Spanish Colonial Revival Style building designed by Charles Willard Moore and completed in 1929. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2005 for its beautifully distinctive colonial-style respective of the Spanish cultural heritage harmoniously attributing to the aesthetic character and history of California.

img_1982While strolling around the Courthouse, Tuco’s eyes were suddenly fixed on a white doll attached to the palm tree. It was a tawdry but scary-looking doll that gave him the creep down on his spine. ‘Did someone who had a beef with the court’s decision put this voodoo doll here as a curse to the Courthouse?’ Trepidation for the unknown terror began to spring from his tactile sensory organs, making him momentarily delirious. He was becoming unsure of whether it was a wise decision to take a picture of the evil doll or even to come to the Courthouse. Was it an omen? ‘Oh, come on. Are you kidding me? It’s just a doll, more or less. No need to waste your energy on contriving meaning to the ugly voodoo doll.’ With this sudden forceful exercise of affirmation, Tuco wended his way toward the beautiful scenes of the earth, the sky, and the view of the world.

 

Tuco exclaimed, “How hard it is to hide the sparks of nature!” The sky was high and blue, the lawn was full and green, and his eyes filled with pleasure. Today was the end of his vacation, and he lamented about returning to work for livelihood. However, the beauty of the scenery made his otherwise grim and dreary Sunday lovely, and Tuco thought life was not supposed to be all that hard and unbearable.