Saturday, February 04, 2006

Movie: King Rat

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about King Rat

It is certainly nice to be able to stick to ones pledge and actually see all the movies one had seen before. 8 more to go from this list. I went through King Rat the 1965 japanese prisoner-of-war camp n Singapore movie.

The dynamics revolved around the formal authority the Military Police (and the senior officers in the chain of command and the informal authority King had. Everyone was subject to the formal authority and those that stood to benefit from what could provide to them gave King his informal authority – until he was no longer integral to satisfying their needs when the war came to an end.
The dynamics were open confrontational when formal authority imposed to ‘sucking up’ when King made demands. The group let him do what he wanted for he had embodied qualities that they did not have- qualities that had to do with ‘working the system ‘ and getting them cigarettes and rations. It was clear that the group had little love for King and he was their instrument to satiate their needs. He in turn needed them for he could not have done it all on his own. The group and King colluded – King got a sense of importance even though he was low down in the military hierarchy. The work of the group was to balance the need to keep law and order through self regulation with survival. The group handed over the responsibility to maintain the rules of the camp to the MP and a subsection of the group handed over responsibility for increasing their odds of survival to King. In both cases they shirked the responsibility of taking on the work of maintaining law and order as well as survival by delegating it to authority figures.
By doing so they did not have to come to terms with their reality. In many instances when the group knew that theft, fraudulent measures were used etc was happening they looked the other way. This enabled them to not confront their reality. Of course it is easier to say this when one is a detached observer but when the group was shut off from the world and has little chances of survival or hope for survival morale breaks and work takes second place. The danger is people will give you authority in groups to meet their aspirations and then take it away when those needs change. One can start to begin to believe, as indeed King did, that one is a natural leader and is destined to lead the the final scenes when the war was over people changed and King felt so alone. He pined for the old days when he could satisfy their needs and they would have him king. He almost loathed the thought of leaving the camp for he had quite forgotten he was but a corporal- he had begun to think he was King.
The role of leadership in such situations is shaped by the needs of the group.It may have little, as in King’s case, to do with one’s innate leadership abilities to mould group hungers and channel them constructively to making the group see its purpose and take responsibility for its behavior and do its own work.


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