Earlier this week was the Golden Globe awards ceremony, the warm-up to the BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies. World leaders probably don’t have time to watch televised award ceremonies and probably even less time to watch movies. But it is interesting to speculate which of the current crop of new releases might grab their attention.
I am sure British leader David Cameron would like to lose himself in the box set edition of one of last night’s winners, Downton Abbey. The tale of an English aristocratic family whose fortunes change as the certainties of the Edwardian era are upturned by the ravages of World War One and the consequent clamour for social justice. But in this fictionalised world the hard edges of class war are smoothed over by a benign sense of noblesse oblige whereby the lower orders are indulged by the kindly benevolence of their lords and masters. It is all very heart-warming. Unless you are a peasant. Or a pheasant, come to think about it.
Even a nostalgia-seeking Prime Minister might spot that this cosy Downton world is flawed and, incidentally, entirely funded by American money from Lady Grantham’s trust fund, perhaps one of the few nods to economic authenticity. But the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un may think that the world really is like Downton Abbey where a privileged few live a life of uncompromising luxury and the poverty of a few unfortunates is little more than a minor irritant on the edge of his peripheral vision.
More likely Kim is settling down on the sofa alongside Syria’s President Assad to watch Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, hoping that this tale of Margaret Thatcher’s indomitable spirit will give them the back bone they need to fend off their enemies at home or abroad. But they will be disappointed and may choose to join Europe’s odd couple – Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy – watching the black and white sensation, The Artist. A silent movie that harks back to a more innocent age when nobody had suggested a common currency and the bond markets knew their place in the world. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Berlusconi is, one suspects, quietly enjoying My Week with Marilyn.
In contrast, the morally austere Mitt Romney might be scratching his head wondering how George Clooney (in his latest movie The Descendants) can put in a series of indifferent performances and still emerge a wildly popular winner– even in the mid-west. It may be something to do with being devastatingly good looking and not talking about God and the public sector deficit too much Mitt.
In Asia, another movie about a strong female leader has done less well than last night’s winner. The Lady is the biopic of the life of Aung San Suu Kyi. Of course it fails to do justice to somebody so revered and of whose political destiny so much is still expected. But if Suu Kyi manages to navigate the vicissitudes of Burmese politics and emerge, Mandela-like, as the leader of a free Burma, then at last Meryl Streep might have a role worthy of her prodigious talents and a movie that all political leaders might find the time to watch.