Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Silent-film director Edwin Carewe hoped to stage a talkie comeback with his self-produced Are We Civilized? Set in a fictional European country, the story concerns the rise to power of a Hitler-like despot. A courageous newspaper publisher (William Farnum) challenges the new dictator's oppressive reign of terror, and the resultant brouhaha nearly leads to a Second World War. Overladen with symbolism, Are We Civilized? invokes the ghosts of such past movers and shakers as Abraham Lincoln, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Julias Caesar, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte and even Jesus Christ to hammer home its pacifistic message (the film wants to be both anti-war and anti-dictators, which history has proven to be an oxymoronic set of circumstances). Director Carewe fleshes out his film with generous stock footage from silent Cecil B. DeMille, D. W. Griffith and Thomas Ince historical epics.
chief, human-nature, leader, nation, newsreels, peace