It is a rather fun and well produced adventure starring Oliver Reed and Diana Rigg.
Jack London was writing this book...in 1910.
The film is called “The Assassination Bureau.”
I enjoyed the film...and watch it over and over again...though for reasons, you might not suspect.
I don’t enjoy watching the film due to Oliver Reed or Diana Rigg or Telly Savalas, or Curt Jurgens.
The feel of the film is very Jules Vernesque, with incredible escapes, fantastic plots and an epic ending...it IS fun to watch.
But that is not why it has become one of my favorites.
I like the film...well...because it takes place in 1910.
Four years before the Great War....
...four years before WW-I.
...when Europe was happy and at peace.
The fact is I like to see how wonderful Europe was before the war...before anyone even suspected or had any inkling of war.
And how did Europe look?
Europe was a wonderful place at the turn of the century.
It did not look pessimistic and somber...
...depressed and dark...
...in the knowledge of the horrible war that was coming.
Not at all!
Europe did not have a clue as to what was coming.
Not an inkling.
In fact, you know what?
Europe was HAPPY!
...and she was looking forward to a future of great wonder.
This happy and optimistic period is what I see in ‘The Assassination Bureau.’
During these times the old mantra that ‘war is obsolete’ was making the rounds, along with ‘free trade’ and the notion that ‘commerce alone was the sole concern o the nations of Europe.’
(notice that this ‘end of history’ comment has been recently repeated by our own ‘experts’)
But people forget.
They forget how happy and prosperous Europe was in the early 1900‘s.
They forget the Golden Age.
Indeed, what we pass as ‘history’ has deformed reality...
...it has turned pre-war Europe into a stressed, insecure, nervous, backward environment...
....seething with hatred for its neighbors concerning economic competition, over-production and declining prices.
What a TOTAL LIE!
Europe was HAPPY in 1910.
Per-capita wealth was never higher than it was in Europe in the early 1900‘s.
When England and France ruled great empires supplying all the resources they could possibly need...
...to produce all the goods they could possibly want...
...to sell to the markets both at home and abroad...
...to well paid customers with abundant buying power.
But am I being overly optimistic here?
Am I speaking out of ignorance?
I can hear the history pundits guffawing “the twit has failed to mention Germany and its commercial competition against England and France.”
You want to hear the truth about Germany?
How about the fact that the final wave of European of immigration to the US ended after 1885 (which happened to be German) ...because Germany had become so prosperous everyone wanted to stay.
In fact, ALL European immigration to the US pretty much came to an end with the blossoming of the new prosperity in Europe.
How about all the German investments throughout the world, alone upon which Germany waxed rich all and by themselves (without even counting production and exports).
Rich enough to build a gigantic modern battle fleet and a gigantic modern army on the side...all for sheer prestige...
...while the population of a unified and prosperous Germany lived in the greatest luxury it had ever known.
Where is the ‘lethal competition’ these ‘historians’ are speaking of.
Germany was better off than it ever dreamed of!
Another myth created by ‘historians’ is that the European wealth was totally dependent on selling factory produced goods.
That was only half true.
The real truth was that FOREIGN INVESTMENTS added another whopping ton of wealth to the European economies in addition to the selling of their industrial output.
In other words, Europe and America were industrialized, the rest of the world wasn’t, so there was an entire planet open to investment and the creation of markets overseas.
In other words, the planet was simply too big, too rich and opportunities too abundant to fight over.
Just look at Berlin in 1900:
Please note the appearance of all those people.
Pleas note how HAPPY AND WELL DRESSED AND PROSPEROUS THEY ALL LOOK!
An ENTIRE MULTITUDE OF THEM!
But why all the joy at war?
Well, with there not having been a big war since the Napoleonic wars of a hundred years before...and the more recent Franco-Prussian War having lasted only 9-months...
...one can barely blame the Europeans for expecting the next war to be just as short and glorious for one side or the other...and more than anything a short and exciting event.
They were not yet counting with the INSANITY of their leaders.
Instead they responded with the JOY and OPTIMISM of a civilized people.
War was, after all....a civilized event...carried out be civilized nations...in a civilized manner...and only for only a short period of time...at which time it would be civilly concluded...for trade to continue.
After all, prolonged war would only stymie the commerce and trade which is what EVERYBODY really wanted .
The ‘historians’ are quick to point out the foolishness of all these happy crowds, cheering the arrival of war.
But were they?
Were they really so foolish to believe that their civilization was civilized...
...instead of foolish, incompetent and brutal?
How were they to know their rulers were willing not only to fight for years on end, but spend their nations into bankruptcy and famine as well?
But before proceeding with this grim and ill-fated twilight, let’s go back to the happy era between 1883 and 1913, shall we?
America became the #1 producer of steel in the world.
Worker’s right were becoming a guarantee.
Consumer safety became paramount.
Women were getting the right to vote and the right to work.
Social services were beginning to appear.
Democracy was in full bloom.
(the concept that Germany and Russia were tyrannical monarchies is a misconception - they were democracies!)
And with all this came a dizzying number of new and revolutionary inventions and patents which rapidly changed society into something wonderful and exciting.
New and exciting inventions seemed to fill the front pages of the numerous newspapers and magazines every month, along with new advances in science and scientific accomplishments.
-gramophones (record player)
-the internal combustion engines
-electric cars (believe it or not)
-ticker tape machines
-mechanical carpet sweepers
-gigantic cruise ships.
In 1900 an electrical machine being able to travel underwater - the submarine - was built for all to see...
...while gigantic ships of the air - zeppelins - cruised the sky.
In 1909, one of those flying ‘contraptions’ - airplanes - crossed the English Channel.
While popular entertainment took off with
...and sporting events of all sorts, like the Olympics and the World Cup Soccer Tournament and even automobile races appeared...
...meanwhile the stores and even giant shopping centers were filled with the products of the industrial revolution - just look at any Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery War catalog of the era (many of which are reprinted and available today) - massive 800 page 2-inch thick catalogs containing just about any product the mind can imagine...
...and numerous amazing stories of wonder filled the book shops and the magazine stands with titles like
-20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea
-From the Earth to the Moon
-Journey to the Center of the Earth
-A Floating City, the Aerial Village
-the Time Machine
-War of the Worlds
-First Men on the Moon...
...all assuming to entertain...but also hinting at the scientific wonders that were just over the horizon.
Yes, the early 20th Century, was not only prosperous and happy, but wonderful and fun!
And the prosperity really spread beyond Europe and America.
While a large part of the Third World struggled on under the boot of European Imperialism, a startling portion of independent nations were enjoying life.
Japan was fully industrialized.
Chaotic politics and coups (and the Mexican Revolution) aside..Latin American nations frequently refer to the early 1900‘s as a mini golden age, in which the oligarchy, middle class and the peasants all lived in peace and harmony (in many of these countries, this era of prosperity and progress would through the 1960‘s).
And now...having said all that...let me go back to the original subject of this blog entry: “The Assassination Bureau.”
A movie in Technicolor which takes place in 1910 - an era which it portrays in exquisite and loving detail.
If you can get past the dark-sounding title and cheesy opening song, the movie is a true delight.
The Golden Age of Europe really comes through.
Remember: Europe would NEVER AGAIN have the standard of life and relative wealth that the Europeans had from 1900 to 1913.
True, there are grim moments of dark humor in the movie involving, well, people trying to assassinate each other, but beneath it all is a fun lightheartedness.
However, based on the Jack London book (written in 1910), it reflects the feeling of the era: happy, optimistic, exciting, hopeful, prosperous, eventful, adventurous and fun.
In doing so, the film is an open representation of the REALITY versus the LIE the historians have painted of the most prosperous era in European history.
Europe was in its Golden Age.
Europe had it all!
I invite the reader to search pictures of this era under Google Images using the search term “1910.”
But this era is all but forgotten today and skipped over in history class, overshadowed by the DISASTER of the First World War.
Gone is the wonder, prosperity, progress and dynamism of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
“The Assassination Bureau” is (in spite of its grim title) a glorious presentation of this fantastic and wondrous world before the War.
The trolleys, the streets, the taverns, the restaurants, the museums, the hotels, the boats, the clothing, the people, the zeppelins.
One can get a notion of this era by viewing pictures and films.
Look at this footage of Coney Island in 1905:
CONEY ISLAND STEEPLE CHASE 1905
Can you imagine what we would have had if it had continued...
...if Western Civilization had not wasted all its gold and prosperity in war...sent its greatest minds to die in trenches...bankrupted ourselves into pauperism.
This was Europe’s Golden Age.
What a beautiful and bygone era of what might have been.
THAT is what I look at when I watch “The Assassination Bureau”...
...and it takes me back to a more happy, more prosperous and more wondrous time...
...and amidst all the adventure and excitement of the movie...
...I always catch myself sighing and thinking...
...and wishing I had been there...
...if only there had been no war.