Russia's attack on Ukraine has made some of the worst fears of geopolitics experts come true. While "World War 3" speculations are all over the place and, frankly, far-fetched, there is genuine concern about how this development is going to shape a world already ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, some things remain the same if one is not on the Ground Zero. Like the weekend. This edition of Watch From Home is dedicated to 'G' (...for 'Geopolitics'). The recommended films and shows shall give you a fair idea of what happens when countries lock horns with each other, or when a nation undergoes a historic transition: for better or for worse.
PS: This list does not claim to make you an expert of 'Entire Geopolitical Science'.
The Girl From Oslo (2021)
If you are a Fauda fan, the chances are you will find this 10-part Israeli-Norwegian series of interest. This high-stakes kidnapping drama is fast-paced but lacks the vigour and joie de vivre of the previous Israeli blockbuster. Where it does score, however, is in giving a small crash course on the "Middle East problem" and how it has remained unresolved despite several mediation attempts by other countries.
Pia, the daughter of a Norwegian diplomat gets kidnapped from Sinai, along with two Israeli siblings. The ISIS claims the kidnapping and demands the return of 12 terrorists from Israel.
What follows is an engaging quest to free the three youngsters whose parents shall go to any extent to get them back. Alex, the Norwegian diplomat; Karl, her lawyer husband; Arik, the Israeli intelligence minister; and Layla—a Palestinian doctor and negotiator, have their work cut out for them: get the hostages back before the ISIS terrorists release their execution videos.
The Girl From Oslo is less about the girl but the world around her: the dynamic world of deals and negotiations, promises kept and broken, and the ramifications of them all. The characters evolve well and the pace of the show doesn't bore the viewer. Plot twists sometimes appear contrived but the bottomline of the show remains solid: when political becomes personal, nobody plays by rules. Not even the most peace-loving people on the planet.
Where to Watch: Netflix
General Report I and II
Catalan politician and filmmaker Pere Portabella's two masterpieces General Report (1976) and General Report II: The New Abduction of Europe (2016) are almost custom made to be watched at this point in 2022.
The first film, captures a crucial moment in the history of Spain after Francisco Franco's death.
How a nation takes baby steps towards democracy is what Portabella captures through this kaleidoscopic film. Portabella, an elected senator, puts forth the process of transition from dictatorship to democracy for all to see. After the scenes of protests, violence, political rallies on the roads, the action moves indoors—in offices, on dinner tables, and in kitchens. How the 'Left' — considered a monolith — is anything but united is clear from the conversations between Spain's future prime minister Felipe González of Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, Raúl Morodo of the People’s Socialist Party, and Ramón Tamames of the Communist Party of Spain. The debates captured by Portabella about unity for greater good, assimilation, sub-nationalisms were relevant then and are relevant now, in Spain and elsewhere.
The sequel takes Portabella's socio-political study even further. Remember, in 2016, the Catalonia independence movement was reaching its peak, culminating in a controversial referendum in 2017, and the eventual Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Since the post-Franco anxieties are still alive and kicking, Spain remains a country in transition.
The film is a must watch for anyone who thinks politically and believes that the current systems need an upgrade.
Where to Watch: Mubi and Amazon Prime Video
The Gilded Age (2022)
Most things about geopolitics are nothing but money. At the heart of many a global clash is the same old saga of new money versus old money, only it gets a bigger arena when countries, instead of individuals, get involved.
Set in New York in 1882, The Gilded Age talks about this age-old tussle in an ironic setting—a relatively new country finding its feet through enterprise, determination and hustle as the old world order inches closer to collapse.
The Russells, played by Carie Coon and Morgan Spector, 'arrive' in New York. They are convinced that they have a good life ahead, since they have an enviable address. Moreover, “You’re a New Yorker now … and for a New Yorker anything is possible”.
The uneasy coming together of the old and the new worlds makes this show utterly watchable—even if to pooh pooh at the snobbery of the old New Yorkers.
In keeping with the letter of this week, G, — and the word that goes with it— the setting of The Gilded Age can be seen as the microcosm of the conflict-torn world. The clash of civilisations happens in the ballrooms of the Fifth Avenue.
Where to Watch: Disney+ Hotstar