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Axis of Evil: Perforated Praeter Naturam
Axis of Evil Perforated Praeter Naturam
Actors: James Barnhart, Jane Bohman, James J. Brask, Bernardine Dohrn, Daniel Ellsberg
Director: Carmine Cervi
Genres: Educational, Documentary
NR     2004     1hr 24min

AXIS OF EVIL is a powerful new documentary that asks a very fundamental question: What is evil? Interviews with 16 journalists, artists, scholars, and activists explore the concept of evil and how it has been used to just...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: James Barnhart, Jane Bohman, James J. Brask, Bernardine Dohrn, Daniel Ellsberg
Director: Carmine Cervi
Creators: Warren Leming, Carmine Cervi, Ilko Davidov, Jim Swanson, Michael W. Phillips Jr.
Genres: Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Educational, Documentary
Studio: Qualiatica
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 12/28/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 24min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

Movie Reviews

Axis of Evil: The Other Side of Prime Time
Garrett Ewing | 01/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Producers Jim Swanson, Ilko Davidov, and Warren Leming (who narrates and composes) and director Carmine Cervi (plus a list which reads like a Who's Who of American activism) have all come together under the rubric "Axis of Evil" to produce one of the more extraordinary documentary essays yet seen.

The Axis of Evil project grew out of a book of stamp art. The film's graphics are drawn from the book and are stunning examples (from around the globe) of political satire. The DVD was designed by Carmine Cervi and Eric Burton, who did a superlative job animating the printed material. DVD extras include additional stamp art, histories, outtakes, and some fascinating anecdotal material.

Those interviewed include historians Daniel Ellsberg and Howard Zinn; the former Weather Underground leader Bernadine Dohrn, In These Times editor/publisher James Weinstein, media activists Peter Kuttner and Floyd Webb, and the University of Chicago's Martha Nussbaum and the ACLU's Geoffrey Stone. Physicist John Ketterson and sociologist Gerhard Schutte weigh in on the side of Liberal Science. Details of American Geo- Politic are outlined by political scientist and Vietnam veteran James Brask, and historian and Fulbright scholar James Barnhart. Lawyer and anti death penalty advocate Jane Bohman does a thoughtful job of presenting the case against capital punishment. Fisal M. Hammouda, a Muslim activist, and an advocate of inter-faith relations, considers the current situation within Islam.

To do justice to the range and depth of the film would be difficult. Axis of Evil mixes music, historical film footage, analysis, graphic art and narration to present the case against the rhetorical use of "Evil" as a State sponsored method by which opponents are demonized.

The use of "Evil" as a propaganda weapon can lead to a theological cum ideological fundamentalism: wherein those not of the "Faith" are deemed beyond protection. The charge of "Evil" has itself proved an evil. The documentary offers compelling evidence that the concept is both outmoded and harmful. The State promoted concept of "Evil" provides the basis for a media driven terrorism, whose rhetoric produces real Terror. The film examines the marginalization of dissent in the U.S. and the negatives this has produced globally.

The Bush administration has led the way in promoting a Good vs. Evil, Us vs. Them media climate in the United States. Their corporate media driven campaign has been effective, and independent media ventures like this one remain the exception. There have been few voices allowed a platform in opposition.

We stand at an historical cross roads in the United States. The real causes of the 9/11 debacle are considered here, in addition to the case for "Blow Back" so skillfully outlined by former CIA scholar/analyst Chalmers Johnson. Beset by a foreign war, which was ill-advised, ill-planned and fraudulently sold to an unwitting public, the U.S. has suffered a series of alarming insults to its prestige and power.

Currently overseen by an Administration, which has proven itself hostile to both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we now begin to see the full dimensions of what may prove to be the end of a long Post War period of American dominance and the beginnings of a significant National decline.

The corporate media's lack of self-examination coupled with its inability to ask the hard questions produced much of the motive for this extraordinary piece of media analysis. You will not see these opinions presented in "Prime Time". To its credit the documentary avoids the conspiracy theories, which have proliferated since 9/11.

Writer Craig Vetter's poignant account of his father's death in the South Pacific during the Second World War is a compelling reminder that the U.S. has a long history which remains terra incognita. Activist Jim Swanson (executive producer) gives a detailed account of America's "Penal Colony" and the damage done when a Society chooses to punish rather than prevent.

Axis of Evil is an astounding piece of work and is all the more compelling for being one of the few pieces of analysis and advocacy available at a time when the U.S. stands in desperate need of some thinking that goes beyond Network Info-Tainment.

As citizens, not consumers, and as participants, not couch potatoes, we need more of what Axis of Evil presents: an unvarnished look at the United States in what may be the most crucial period of its history.

-Garrett Ewing"
This documentary's thesis about evil becomes too broad when
Shaun | 02/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This film begins by replaying George W. Bush's speech where he declared North Korea, Iran, and Iraq part of his "Axis of Evil." A professor from Barat College of Illinois, James J. Brask, said that the Bush's Axis of Evil speech was an "absurd formulation for American policy." Although Brask begins the discussion by focusing on Bush's speech, the filmmakers abruptly turn towards another issue: evil and racism. Filmmaker Floyd Webb and professor of law at the University of Chicago Geoffrey R. Stone comment on the problem of racism. Then another abrupt turn, professor Bernard Dohrn says that it is wrong that 11 million children in the richest country in the history of the world do not have healthcare. Her argument is that we need universal health care. Martha Nussbaum who elaborates on Dohrn's point by observing that Justice Marshall said in a dissent in a case in the 1970s that a right to a decent education is implicit in our freedom of speech, and she agrees that freedom of speech is just a phrase on paper unless citizens can actualize those freedoms.
Then, another abrupt turn, under the heading of "Criminal Justice" where it is said that the "United States currently incarcerates 2.1 million citizens or 686 per 100,000 of the national population: this is the largest prison population and the highest imprisonment rate. Almost 900,000 or 42% of US prisons are black men." Next, narrator, Warren Leming, says "In his first 2 years in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft overruled federal prosecutors 28 times in order to advocate the death penalty. In 95% of those cases the defendants were people of color."
Another abrupt turn begins when the panelists start discussing our torture tactics in places like Abu Ghraib. After showing many pictures of torture tactics at Abu Ghraib, the filmmakers showed a fake mail stamp with the heads of Mount Rushmore replaced with Rumsfeld, Hitler, Stalin, and George W. Bush."
The next heading begins with, "War." Howard Zinn discusses how, during his tour in the military, he unknowingly took part in the first experimental use of napalm. This section explores the notion of evil in the Cold War. The focus is on Vietnam. The narrator says, "Of the estimated 1.9 million Vietnamese killed in the Vietnam War nearly half were civilians."
Another abrupt turn is back to the beginning, with the heading of "Axis of Evil." James Weinstein says that Bush took Reagan's idea of the "Empire of Evil" and Roosevelt's idea of an Axis of German, Italy, and Japan. The editor of this film stupidly re-ran Brask's earlier video clip where called Bush's "Axis of Evil" and "absurd formulation..." Leming adds that "terrorism is the new communism."
Another abrupt turn is taken but without giving a phrase to begin it. This next section is how the media promotes the government's agenda of promoting fear and their own commercialization of news. This may be confusing political rhetoric because much of the conservative punditry argues that except for FoxNews, the news at large is liberal. But these liberals are arguing that because the news is run by corporate conglomerations they must have their own big-business agendas in mind and are actually pro-war conservative.

I thought this film would approach the topic of evil in a similar manner that Richard J. Bernstein approached it in his nice little book Abuse of Evil: The Corruption of Politics and Religion since 9/11 (Themes for the 21st Century Ser.). In some ways they overlap, but this film is largely just a liberal rant. This could have been a much better discussion of liberal politics if the director, Carmine Cervi, had asked more focused questions, asked for more historical examples to back up the claims made, and had given more statistics. This film is only 84 minutes so by talking about problems ranging from racism, to criminal justice, to the Cold War, to the Iraq War, to the War on Terrorism, this film becomes too broad and too unimportant educationally. The most accomplished intellectual to be interviewed was Martha C. Nussbaum, and she only spoke for about 2 minutes and she was answering a question that was almost irrelevant. She had the least air-time of the panelists yet is the most accomplished (along with Howard Zinn). This botched effort to utilize someone as diverse in ideas and scholarship as Nussbaum is a small example of the broader lack of coherence and focus that the director, Carmine Cervi, shows in this film."