I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dirty Harry

I just saw Dirty Harry for the first time, filling what was truly a nearly criminal hole in my movie history.  I was impressed. It has aged well, and still feels like a good movie despite being dated.

I thought that Andrew Robinson played one of the creepiest, most loathsome villains I've seen in a movie.  (SPOILER ALERT*) He walked the line between not crazy enough to hate and crazy enough to pity with remarkable precision, leaving me thrilled to see him dead by film's end in a manner it might behoove me to talk to a psychologist about.

What really struck me though was that I'm not sure the best way to deal with a case like this in real life.  Yes, he has rights, but so does the girl he kidnapped.  In my mind, Harry had the moral high ground in his interrogation of the killer, but it's clearly illegal, and rightly so.  Saying that actions like that are ok in emergency situations merely makes every situation an emergency, and is one of the hallmarks of impending tyranny.

The mixed blessing of our justice system is that while it (supposedly) protects the innocent in an unparalleled fashion, the clearly guilty evil walk under the same protections.  Making exceptions for the sake of those few cases though is courting disaster.

To me, the movie finds as good a solution to this as any I can think of. A man, acting as an individual, does what he knows is the right thing to do and is willing to face the music for his actions.  In an ideal world, this entire subject would be inconceivable, but since we do not live in an ideal world, this is the best case I can think of. It's far from perfect. Many atrocities throughout history have been committed by people convinced they have the moral high ground. Far, far more have been committed by governments that believed the same.

Suspension of the trappings of justice is not an option here. To me, that leaves no other option than an individual to do what is necessary.

I'd be curious to know the impressions of any of my readers on this one. It's a sticky issue.

*Yes spoiler alert, despite me being one of the last people on the planet to have NOT seen this movie before

1 comment:

  1. I must conclude that you are correct about the antagonist in the film. Sums him up quite nicely, actually.

    You should see the second "Dirty Harry" movie, Magnum Force. I am reminded of it after considering your above comments. For that matter, because they are entertaining, you should see the other Dirty Harry films.

    I'd prefer not to comment on the topic of justice at this time, as I have nothing particularly insightful to say.


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