AMID the razzmatazz at last night's Oscar ceremony, some incredulity at a decision by Malaysia to ban Schindler's List - the only country in the world to do so - because of what it sees as 'Jewish propaganda'. According to UIP, the film's US distributors, Malaysia said it would only reverse that decision if the film won a hatful of Oscars; this, apparently, would prove it had some artistic merit that might be sufficient to override any political implications.
The Malaysian censorship board has five complaints about the film (in rough translation): 'First, the story of the film reflects the privilege and the virtues of a certain race only. Second, the film reveals the brutality and the cruelty of the Nazi soldiers to the Jews at Krakow and the people who are having this done to them are shown as endurable and stout-hearted and intelligent and grateful. Third, on the whole the story shows how cruelly and brutally the Jews were treated by the Nazis. The story is presented in effect to the coming generation to remember and to be immortalised. Fourth, there are negative characters who exploit the opportunity for their own interests in corruption and fraud. There is obvious cruelty, brutality and inhuman torturing and killing.' Finally, the Malaysians are demanding 25 cuts, omitting scenes with sex, cruelty, horror and obscene dialogue - which, they admit, would spoil the story.
According to Hy Smith, UIP's spokesman, the matter will only reach government level if the Malaysians are not swayed by the Oscar results. 'There is a procedure for this sort of thing,' he said. 'Everyone hopes they will change their minds. In the Philippines, for example, censors tried to ban it, but President Ramos leapt in and insisted that it be shown.'
THE four British SAS men who parachuted on to Sarajevo's football pitch at the weekend were pursued by an American press agent anxious to establish their nationality. Finally, one of the men cracked under the interrogation, replying: 'I'm a Norwegian.' The American seemed satisfied, despite the man's accent - broad cockney, I'm told.
Dogged by failure
OPERA buffs bemused by the absence of the gamekeeper's dog in English National Opera's recent production of Smetana's The Two Widows may be amused to know why they had to make do with canned barking. Two 'theatrically trained' dogs hired to play the part were both fired before the production got off the ground, I gather, following what can only be described as stage fright. The first dog did all the right things until David Rendall, as Ladislav, started blazing away with his shotgun during a pre-dress rehearsal. With a yelp, the creature tore off back stage, tail between legs, refusing to return. Enter pooch No 2, which performed most professionally in the dress-rehearsal and publicity shots - and then also did a runner at the sound of a gun. Conceding defeat, the management sent the dog home and dispatched the terse internal memo: 'All dogs in The Two Widows are cut.'
TODAY sees Screaming Lord Sutch, head of the Monster Raving Loony Party, entering the fray for the most appropriate by-election campaign of his career - in Barking.
Patten's school run
A CLOSE run for John Patten, the Education Secretary, the other day when he took his seven-year-old daughter, Mary-Claire, to school. After a somewhat disorderly start to the morning, Patten set off at full tilt, arriving at the Westminster primary at two minutes to nine. No doubt by this stage wheezing his way up the steps, he deftly squeezed the child into a queue, where he caught his breath, but not for long. 'I didn't realise the inspectors were in the school that week,' he said. 'The doors were closing at nine on the dot and any parents who arrived with their children after that had to sign the late book. Can you imagine the publicity if I'd had to sign the late book?'
A DAY LIKE THIS
22 March 1914 W N P Barbellion writes: 'On the bus coming home thro' sreets full of motor traffic I espied three pretty girls who gave me the 'Glad Eye'. One had a deep musical voice and kept on using it, one of the others a pretty ankle and kept on showing it. At Kew two Italians came aboard, one of whom went out of his way to sit among the girls. He kept turning his head around, giving them a sweeping glance as he did so, to shout remarks in Italian to his friend behind. I studied his face. It was fat, round and greasy. He wore black moustachios with curly ends, his eyes were dark, shining, bulgy and around his neck was wrapped a scarf inside a dirty linen collar. I hated him steadily, perseveringly. At Hammersmith the girls got off and the Italian watched them go with lascivious eyes, looking down at them on the pavement - still interested.Reuse content