Hope and Change and the Scariest Movie Scene Ever

Horror movie buffs may be surprised to know that the scariest scene in the history of cinema has no slasher or space creature or ferocious beast. There’s a monster alright, but it’s a different kind of monster. Not an imaginary monster, but a real one – the kind of monster that people choose to rule over them.

As the Book of Ecclesiastes explains: “There is nothing new under the sun.” Throughout history, nations have fallen prey to charming, silver-tongued demagogues. Once in power, they reveal their evil, tyrannical selves. Too late does the subject populace feel The Leader‘s boot on their throats. Then comes time for the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The 1972 movie Cabaret has the scariest scene in the history of the cinema. An idealistic youth sings about change he can believe in. Caught up by his vision for the future, people begin to sing along with him:

The sun on the meadow is summery warm

The stag in the forest runs free

But gathered together to greet the storm

Tomorrow belongs to me

The branch on the linden is leafy and green

The Rhine gives its gold to the sea

But somewhere a glory awaits unseen

Tomorrow belongs to me

Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign

Your children have waited to see

The morning will come when the world is mine

Tomorrow belongs to me

The babe in his cradle is closing his eyes

The blossom embraces the bee

But soon says the whisper, arise, arise

Tomorrow belongs to me

The audience then discovers that the young man is in the Hitler Youth. Looking back at the rise of National Socialism, one can lose sight of the fact that back then Germany had one of the most advanced cultures on the globe. Germans were too nuanced and sophisticated for a dictator to arise in the midst, right? Wrong!

Tomorrow Belongs to Me 2

Here at home, we should be wary of any politician who seeks to manipulate people by focusing their attention away from their present difficulties, always talking about his vision for the nation, a glorious future that somehow never arrives. Like the Germans of the 1920s and 30s, could Americans fall prey to a demagogue? Yes, We Can!

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