Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Home Alone

Home Alone is a socio-political satire about the fall of the Iron curtain and the collapse of communism: Discuss.

The robbers are clearly the imperialist forces of the late 20th century America, marauding into communist controlled lands, whilst Kevin represents the ill-prepared and poorly educated but wily guerilla forces of the Vietnam conflict.
The frequent checking of the house by the robbers was the political awareness of the situation in Vietnam by American intelligence. The Robbers repeatedly try to break into the house to no avail, representing the frequent attempts to conquer Vietnam and Korea that the Americans had. Ultimately, they eventually manage to make their way in, but are frequently caught by rudimentary traps, laid by Kevin. Eventually, of course, the Americans pulled out of Vietnam, but in this alternate reality set up in the film, the criminals are ultimately held accountable for their despicable actions and communism reigns on in the McCallister household. You could also suggest that the stupidity of the robbers and, in particular, Daniel Stern's character's unwillingness to go through with it, as a critique of the draft conscription America enforced for the Vietnam war in the latter stages, collecting untrained and unmotivated troops.

Or perhaps we could say that Kevin himself represents communism, whilst the rest of the household represent the capitalist forces working against him (One notable scene at the start is where Kevin pushes Buzz, and the whole family erupts into chaos, eventually calling him a stupid idiot and sending him to the room upstairs (clearly a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fact that Buzz started it also points to the fact that America had weapons on the Soviet border for years prior to the crisis). Kevin also wishes his whole family would just "disappear", an allusion to the desire to spread communism worldwide) but ultimately, the forces of communism are required to protect the household, which could represent the working man, from the corruption of criminals, which capitalism does not defend adequately against. Kevin spends much of the film in a red sweatshirt. Coincidence? I think not. The film was released just after the end of the cold war, so it could suggest to the world that capitalism needs communism and that communism needs capitalism. "The political bird cannot fly with one wing, he needs both a left and a right to remain afloat" as Mikhail Gorbachev notably, did not say.

In both these examples, though, we could suggest that the Mother, initially portrayed as an uncaring beast who left her child to die, is ultimately a mythical, god-like character, who betrays her children and abandons them, but is appreciated by them regardless. Towards the end of the film, although Kevin, representing humanity in this example, is doing all the struggling and hard work, she swoops in and "Saves the day", earning praise from bystanders whilst Kevin's work goes ultimately ignored by the rest of the family. This is further reinforced by Kevin keeping a picture of his mother under his pillow as a good luck charm, equivalent to the Bible on the bedstand or a Torah on the table. This message is reinforced by the dogmatic nature of the mother towards Kevin, scolding and punishing him severely for a relatively minor offence, perhaps a crude attack on the nature of our own God. You could argue that the fact the mother is absent whilst Kevin is alone is to represent the relative atheism of the communist states compared to the capitalists. The whole film is set to the backdrop of Christmas, whereupon our "God" character returns to us to welcome is in a loving embrace, and we immediately forget that she is responsible for this calamity.

All in all, I think Home Alone is a very thoughtful and moving allegory for the downfall of communism in the early 90s, well-constructed, but with a little room for ambiguity (Some people only perceive it as a light-hearted cheerful holiday film, the philistines) that has left film critics up and down the land bamboozled. I think it's fair to say none of them truly "understand" this film in any real regard. 9.5/10

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