Bright Lights Film Journal

The Life & Times of Col. Blimp – Metaphor for Presidential Elections

There’s a stirring speech made late into Powell & Pressburger’s excellent Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) wherein Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook), the German friend of General Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesy) tries to explain why antiquated notions of right and wrong in warfare will not succeed against the Nazi menace. Seeing the film the other night, it struck me that the following dialogue made a fine comment about the upcoming election and my (and I’m sure others) general worry that the GOP is going to play dirty (again!)by accidentally misfiling absentee Obama votes in the swing states and other foul play, while the democrats just smile and do nothing to defend themselves, mistakenly believing that these things “just don’t happen.”

Thanks to for supplying the dialogue for me to cut and past here:

Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff: You commented on Nazi methods–foul fighting, bombing refugees, machine-gunning hospitals, lifeboats, lightships, bailed-out pilots–by saying that you despised them, that you would be ashamed to fight on their side and that you would sooner accept defeat than victory if it could only be won by those methods.

Clive Candy: So I would!

Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff: Clive! If you let yourself be defeated by them, just because you are too fair to hit back the same way they hit at you, there won’t be any methods *but* Nazi methods! If you preach the Rules of the Game while they use every foul and filthy trick against you, they will laugh at you! They’ll think you’re weak, decadent! I thought so myself in 1919!

Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff: I don’t think you won it. We lost it -but you lost something, too. You forgot to learn the moral. Because victory was yours, you failed to learn your lesson twenty years ago and now you have to pay the school fees again. Some of you will learn quicker than the others, some of you will never learn it – because you’ve been educated to be a gentleman and a sportsman, in peace and in war. But Clive! [tenderly] Dear old Clive – this is not a gentleman’s war. This time you’re fighting for your very existence against the most devilish idea ever created by a human brain – Nazism. And if you lose, there won’t be a return match next year… perhaps not even for a hundred years.

So here it is, even a hundred years later and we need Kretschmar-Schuldorff to get it into the heads of the people that every swing vote ballot box needs to be closely watched. We’re fighting against the second most devilish idea ever created by a human brain – neo-conservatism, and their tactics are no less Nazi-ish and inhuman!