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Does D-FENS Shatter American Reality or Reflect It? : My Son Is the Villain, Not the Hero, of Urban Drama

March 22, 1993|KIRK DOUGLAS | Actor - writer Douglas holds a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute.

On Feb. 26, in a robe and slippers, I stepped out of my home early in the morning to pick up the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

First I read the New York Times and was delighted to see a rave review of "Falling Down." Then I picked up the Los Angeles Times and found a devastating review of the same picture. Well, we have freedom of the press. In a democracy, you have the right to express your opinions. Then I went to see the movie, and I agreed with the New York Times. Of course, I might be prejudiced; Michael Douglas is my son.

Last Monday I read the Los Angeles Times Calendar section, peppered with articles on "Falling Down" (Calendar, March 15). Obviously, the movie had a great emotional impact whether you liked it or not. But each article--again--was a condemnation of the movie.

Did you really see the film? If you did, see it again. Michael's character is not the "hero," "newest urban icon." He is the villain and the victim. Of course, we see many elements of our society that contributed to his madness. We even pity him. But the movie never condones his actions.

The hero of "Falling Down" is the policeman played by Robert Duvall. In the unfriendly environment of the police station, he perseveres. He risks his life to confront the "victim" (Michael) on the day of his retirement when he needn't lift a finger. His final speech to the desperate man has been completely overlooked by you. In it, Duvall condemns the excuses that Michael's character offers for his actions. Why was the attitude of this character, so well-played by Duvall, ignored?

We need such controversial movies to get people thinking. Years ago, Michael made "The China Syndrome," dealing with the dangers of nuclear power plants. George Will, a highly respected journalist, lambasted the film. He felt the premise of the movie was "impossible" and induced panic. George Will and others had the right to express their opinions. But a week later, the Three Mile Island incident occurred--posing a danger stronger than the one depicted in "The China Syndrome." The next week George Will never printed a retraction. He just wrote about another subject.

I am proud of the controversial movies that Michael has made. In "Falling Down," he had the guts to play a prejudiced, middle-class nerd. He played it brilliantly. I think it is his best piece of work to date. This movie may make you uncomfortable, but it forces you to take a deep look at our urban society. Everyone should see "Falling Down"--twice.

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