Megalomaniacs on Film: The Great Eight

It’s been a harrowing four years to say the least, hopefully the end of which is tolled tonight, a good time to remember that Trump is neither the first nor the last of megalomaniacs. Indeed, this archetype is popular in film, as exhibited in My Great Eight Megalomaniacs:

8. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), The Social Network (2010) “Look, a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair, okay? They came to me with an idea, I had a better one.”

7. Idi Amin (Forest Whittaker), The Last King of Scotland (2006) “You dare try to poison me? After everything I gave you? I am Idi Amin! President-for-life and ruler of Uganda. I am the father of Africa.”

6. Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), Apocalypse Now (1979) “You have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means.”

5. Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), Citizen Kane (1941) “Don’t worry about me, Gettys! Don’t worry about me! I’m Charles Foster Kane! I’m no cheap, crooked politician, trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes!”

4. Blake (Alec Baldwin), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) “That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. How much’d you make? You see, pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing.”

3. Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan), The Wizard of Oz (1939) “Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.”

2. Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers), How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) “Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday machine is lost if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world?”

1. Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), Aguirre Wrath of God (1972) “If, I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees the birds will drop dead from the trees. I am the Wrath of God! The earth I walk upon sees me and quakes! But whoever follows me and the river, will win untold riches.”

Megalomaniac Metheny

There is no disputing that Pat Metheny is a virtuoso on the guitar. His latest group, The Unity Band, recently in New York (Town Hall, Friday, October 12), featured not only Metheny’s signature solos on a wide assortment of guitars, including the ostentatious-looking 42-string Pikasso…but also a wall of Lemur musical robots and a series of duets, each featuring a Unity Band member and Metheny, all of which established not only how musically gifted he is, but more to the point, how he is really into himself.I don’t know Pat Metheny as a person nor do I question his focus as a musician, but his on-stage persona and the narrative he established both point to megalomania…which made me think that he has the right personality to be a writer.

Hemingway explaining a literary device

Writing is a singular, selfish act. It’s all about the author. It’s my world. As much as I might pretend to care about all of the wonderful people and places in my story, it’s mine and I’ll do what I want. It’s a straight dictatorship, hubris well done.The trick is disguising that for the audience, and coming across as empathetic and magnanimous. Metheny is a master of all of this, a back-handed compliment to be sure, but I think he (we) can take it.