Have you ever thought to yourself: what would happen if I mixed one of the worst disasters in human history with an anthropomorphic rapping dog and shoddy animation? Well fret not because Titanic: The Legend Goes On… answers your question in every sense of the word!

The cockamamie project was conceived by Italian director Camillo Teti. Not much is known about him but his other well-known films (if you can call them that) include Bye Bye Vietnam and College Girl Goes on Vacation.  Don’t those titles just scream brilliance?

This movie is so unbelievable that many people even question its existence. But don’t worry, lucky for you it indeed exists.

To start let’s look at the tagline for this movie: “A full-length animated feature, based on the legend of the Titanic.” Ah yes, the LEGEND of the Titanic. All those deaths, that giant sinking ship, all a made-up story. A good start. I don’t want to start off this review giving you a biased opinion and all but it’s kind of difficult not to.

So the movie begins with our female protagonist, Angelica, rowing in a lifeboat, behind her the sinking RMS Titanic. Yes, from the start we all already know how the movie will end. That is some stellar storytelling. We are then led into Angelica’s flashback, where the real film begins (rendering the opening sequence kind of useless).

Next, we are  met with Angelica (in the real opening scene?) with her stepmother and two evil stepsisters…Sound familiar? This movie is just a heaping pile of recycled Disney stories. In fact, every character in this movie seems to be a rip-off of another Disney character: Cinderella, the mice from An American Tail, Cruella DeVille.

It’s as if this director thought: How about I take a bunch of Disney cartoon characters and put them on the Titanic. Genius. There is also a musical troupe of racially insensitive Mexican mice. A necessary addition to any film about a tragic human disaster.

Anyways, the movie has something to do with Angelica’s locket being stolen and her trying to find it, I guess. As the film moves forward we are met with her creepy American Psycho-esque love interest, William, who, after their first encounter, finds it okay to aggressively rub Angelica’s hand. And from that moment on, they are in love…like ten minutes into the film.

There are so many different subplots going on at once it’s hard to keep track of who the characters are and what the movie is actually about. Sometimes there are stories that start to develop in one scene and then nothing follows from it or we never see the characters again.

The pinnacle awful movie moment in the film however is most probably the scene with the aforementioned rapping dog (shown below for your viewing pleasure). Why is there a rapping dog on the Titanic? Who the hell knows. Maybe there weren’t enough talking animals. Unfortunately though, this pooch only makes one appearance in the film so clap along with those poorly animated spaghetti fingers for as long as you can.

I mean, this movie is so bad that there is actually  a thread on IMDB for the film called: “Say something positive about this movie.” Some of the positive things include: “This movie has united people in how horrible it is” and “Camilo Teti hasn’t made anything since 2007, that’s positive.”

BUT WAIT! Don’t be sad if you haven’t gotten your fill of animated Titanic movies. There are two other ones directed by another Italian director. Yes that’s right, not just one but TWO. Both include, a giant octopus who tries to put the Titanic back together again. Why Italy? Why?

An actual scene from one of the other animated Titanic films.

You won’t actually get the full experience of this film until you see it, but I assure you it’ll make you wish the Titanic would hit the iceberg sooner.

Feature image courtesy of  Camilo Teti

The Western left is in dire straits today. Supposedly, the Left (at least the political parties on the left side of the political spectrum) is suffering from an acute sickness. Or is the Left dead?

What if the self-inflicted debacles of the Hollande/Valls administration in France, or of the Renzi coalition in Italy are not the symptoms of a sick socialist movement, but rather a clear manifestation that the Left as we know it has ceased to exist?

Up until now, debates within left-wing political formations have always been about direction, strategy, ideology and semantics. This is a tradition of the anti-establishment, or anti-capitalist movements that has varied throughout the decades and the past century.

Consider the debate between Bakunin and Marx, during the First International. Bakunin supported anarchist decentralization and horizontal organizing, while Marx argued for centralized, communist organizing, with an emphasis on the importance of the party structure. Also think of the indirect debate between Rosa Luxemburg‘s position of virulent war of movement and Gramsci‘s theory of cultural hegemony and his strategy attrition warfare during the la belle époque. And then there’s the debate between orthodoxical marxism and the New Left in the 1960s.

weathermen-chicago-days-of-rage
The New Left in all its glory: The Weathermen during the Days of Rage in Chicago 1968

Debates concerning ideas have always been the tempo to which left-wing movements have danced and they have created the space and the horizon for the evolution and mutation of such movements. Through these debates, for example feminist, anti-racist and Queer agendas have been able to impose themselves, making left-wing movements put a greater emphasis on the notions of patriarchy, the subaltern, racism, gender and recognition. But today the left, especially the European “traditional” left, doesn’t debate ideas anymore, it debates the central idea that braids all of these different threads of struggles together: the idea of socialism.

Emmanuel Valls, the current prime minister of the French socialist government, didn’t create many ripples when he stated earlier this year that it was about time the French Socialist Party came to terms with what he called the modern world. His vision of modernizing the Socialist Party was to change its ontological conception and drop the whole notion of socialism to the extent of dropping the word from its name.

This has already happened in Italy where once the strongest Communist Party on the continent, outside of the Soviet orbit, which at its peak boasted one million card carrying members, decided to drop its Communist label and opt for a more modern appellation, re-branding itself the Democracy Party of the Left. This maneuver was then as it is now the manifestation of a roller-coaster magnitude slide to the right.

Dropping the word Communist threw the flood-gates wide open. First the non-Marxist-Leninist lefties and socialists joined the fray, then its was the social democrats, then confused and dazed centrists who still considered themselves progressive, but actually were neo-liberals at heart but couldn’t come to terms with it (kind of like the Liberals here in Canada) and finally anyone and everyone who like the color red or later on fancied pink.

Partito_Democratico_Logo.svg
This used to be the Italian Communist Party

The story of the Italian Communist Party is like the story of Jesus transforming water into wine, only that in this case it’s about wine being transformed into water. With every new section of adherents further from the Communist ideological base, the new Democracy Party of Left became more and more diluted until it finally reconstituted itself along neo-liberal ideological guidelines. Today the ideological differences between Matteo Renzi and  the remainders of Silvio Berlusconi’s political group are non-existent, both are the guardians of an austere status-quo.

In the aftermath of WWII in eastern Europe, Stalin had operated a similar strategy. To impose the hegemony of his Stalinist communist affiliates in the newly self-proclaimed people’s republics, Communists parties would side during the first set of “open” elections with left-wing non-communist political groups to fend off the fascist threat and thus succeed in outlawing them. Then they would cut off any centrist opposition and so on and so forth until there would be no opposition left.

At the end of this process Stalinist ideology and the Kremlin’s line reigned supreme. This was known as the salami-slice strategy.

In 2014 its seems that the Brussels or maybe the Frankfurt line reigns without any constraints or limitations. The opposition that should have been offered by existing left-wing governments or by socialist parties is dead, these political formations have slowly been devoid from any of their founding ideological principles, they are the walking-dead of neo-liberalism.

In a context such as this strange things can happen, such as a Socialist prime minister addressing the Business TV awards and telling the 1% audience with a rather soothing and gentle tone that he would make sure that next year they would capitalize even more on the plight of the French working-class. Such a turn of events has pushed many commentators to disbelief and denial.

Fédérique Lordon had to publish in Le Monde Diplomatique of September of this year, a lengthy article entitled The Left Cannot Die to feel better about the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, in most cases, when debating if something can or cannot die then the thing in question (in this case the left) is probably already dead.

But amidst this windfall of Socialist auto-destruction there are some glimmers of hope. The breach opened by the tragic suicide of the traditional left has allowed in some places such as Greece and Spain new movements with new ideas to breed.

The death of the left as we knew it has allowed a new generation of anti-capitalist, progressive and alternative perspectives to enter the political scene, this apparent ontological death carries within itself the power to give birth to a new ontological premises for left-wing movements. So maybe “socialism” must die, for socialism to thrive.

A luta continua,

They say seeing is believing, but at Germany’s imaginative and revealing climate change museum, they believe experience is even better.  That’s the driving force behind the immersive installations offered by the Klimahaus (Climate House) and its main exhibit, “The Journey,” that transports visitors around the world along one line of longitude, eight degrees east.

Opened in June 2009 in the northern German port city of Bremerhaven, the UNESCO-sponsored museum is the first of its kind. The journey exhibit takes people through a range of the world’s climate zones: mountain glaciers, scorching desert, muggy rainforest and onwards around the globe in an effort to show what climate change means across the planet.

Along the way we meet the people who live in each zone and find out how their lives and worlds are changing due to global warming, be it in Switzerland, Sardinia or Niger. Many of the people we meet through photos, videos, audio and inspired installations are already living in the extremes, but everywhere the journey takes us we see that climate change is inescapable and is a reality people, animals and plants are living.

Picture it: starting in the middle of unassuming Bremerhaven we head due south on train tracks, first stop Switzerland and the Alps. There we learn about the rural traditions of an elderly couple who milk cows and make cheese in a mountain village. Why not have a seat and milk one yourself, it’s easy.

Or climb to the top of the scaled-down glacier and learn about whooping, the fun and lesser-known cousin of yodelling.

But we also learn how things are changing: glaciers in the region are receding quickly, leaving behind massive debris freed from the melting ice and creating major risk of rockslide, a product of climbing temperatures and a world consuming more fossil fuels than ever. You’ll even feel the temperature of a glacier in a passage on the way to the next stop, Sardinia.

The family that awaits you on the Italian island lives with extreme heat. Parts of Sardinia, off Italy’s southwestern coast, suffer from high temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius regularly and dryness that makes forests prone to wild fires. No one works from one to four in the afternoon as the oppressive heat makes it simply impractical.

Working with the premise that a butterfly in one part of the world can cause a tornado in another, we control weather settings in one room and watch the effects on camera as visitors in nearby rooms feel a brisk breeze, a sudden rise in temperature or a downpour next to the old Fiat.

Climate change in Sardinia has only exacerbated the problem of forest fires, which we see helicopter pilots lament in a video as they fly over an infernal landscape. But they also say that education and public engagement has led to better management of the forests and a recent reduction in the number of fires annually.

Further south along the 8th degree line we come to a place on the edge of the desert, though it’s hard to believe you’re not in the Sahara itself. Kanak is a remote region in Niger and is home to the Tuareg, nomads who have been herders in the region for 1300 years. They live on the northern edge of the Sahel, a band of terrain that crosses Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

Conditions there are difficult to bear. After peering into the daily lives of Tuareg families we enter a desert-like room where a single acacia tree stands on a stretch of barren, sandy land. Here, water is at a premium from wells 30 metres deep and desertification is making life harder each year. That reality is brought home by the room’s 35-degree dry heat wave and the single drop of water falling on the tree every twelve minutes, simulating the amount of precipitation the region receives annually.

A quote from a Tuareg woman on the wall leading into the room speaks volumes: “When I was a young woman a lot of things were different. I saw things I no longer see. I don’t see any of those things anymore: giraffes, ostriches, tortoises, antelopes, deer. There were enough.”

“Canada” in the Tuareg language

From Niger the journey continues southward to the rainforests of Cameroon, Antarctica, the Pacific island nation of Samoa and up towards Alaska and before returning to northern Germany. But even to this point the message is clear: climates around the world are changing and the Klimahaus makes those seemingly distant consequences strikingly real.

Please read the conclusion of the Klimahaus journey featuring a climate refugee art exhibit and a closer look at Germany’s renewable energy efforts.

* Photos by Tomas Urbina and Malika Pannek