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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Magic Lantern to give a Philippine history lesson

One of the most common sayings regarding history is the old saw, attributed to the intellectual George Santayana, that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I realized how true this could be recently when I gave a simple response to a statement I read on Facebook.

The statement was from a site titled "History Uncovered," on which the writer referred to the "often-overlooked death camps of the Soviet Union."

My reaction? " 'Often-overlooked'? By whom? Alexander Solzhenitsyn won a Nobel Prize by spending his whole career writing about the Gulag."

The reactions to this simple statement of fact were all over the place, mainly from — I presume — younger readers who blamed their teachers for either ignoring the Soviet Gulag in favor of stressing The Holocaust or of overlooking the well-documented crimes of Josef Stalin. To which I remained silent, not interested in involving myself further in online arguments (because all too often they degenerate into simple name-calling, etc.).

But, of course, I thought this: Much of what I know of history I learned on my own — especially by reading books such as Solzhenitsyn's novel "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" — which apparently isn't on today's required reading lists.

Anyway, all of this is a long-winded way of announcing that a film titled "The Kingmaker" is scheduled to open on Friday at the Magic Lantern. The film is a documentary about the efforts of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos not only to remake her own image but also to promote the political ambitions of her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The film explores Marcos' checkered past and provides a scary look at her potential future. Says Washington Post critic Mark Jenkins, “ 'The Kingmaker' chills the soul by presenting shantytown residents and school kids who extol the Marcos regime and even endorse its eight-year period of martial law. Imelda Marcos is not the mother of all Filipinos, but some of them are happy to proclaim themselves her children."

Sounds ever so familiar. And viewers are invited to check out that Marcos regime history on their own, and to note the dangers.

No excuses allowed.