Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vaclav Havel Makes a Movie

At the ripe, young age of 73, Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is directing his first film, an adaptation of his autobiographical 2007 play Leaving about a "recently retired statesman (Chancellor Rieger) going through the withdrawal symptoms of power within the general framework of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare’s King Lear."

Michael Zantovsky speaks with Havel about this and many other things in the current issue of World Affairs.

Besides providing inspiration to maturing would-be filmmakers, the interview is interesting on many levels. When asked if he is a "believer" Havel replies:
It is hard to say. If by believing you mean praying to an anthropomorphic deity who created the world and half controls it and half observes it, then I am probably not a believer. But if you mean that it is not all accidental, that there is a mystery to existence, a deeper meaning, that I do believe in. Actually, I am pretty sure of it.... we ask, why is there anything living? And then we ask, why is there anything at all? And if you tell some advocate of scientism that the answer is a secret, he will go white hot and write a book. But it is a secret. And the experience of living with the secret and thinking about it is in itself a kind of faith. 
On his political leanings:
I am always amused when people try to put me in a drawer and label me as this or that. It is not all that important. What is important to me is the truth. And the truth is that Russia has become a threat to its neighbors. I don’t care whether this be considered liberal, or conservative, or progressive. But it is the truth. I am not a friend of war. But it is the truth that if we had intervened in Kosovo sooner, we might have saved many lives. The same thing holds for Iraq. When the first Gulf War took place, I was all for going all the way to Baghdad. When dictators get appeased, people die.  

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