Monday Morning Poll: Oscar Edition

Monday, March 8th, 2010


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75 Responses to “Monday Morning Poll: Oscar Edition”

  1. #1 |  Ira | 

    You forgot Slapshot.

  2. #2 |  Mike T | 

    V for Vendetta.

  3. #3 |  Bulucanagria | 

    Will there be a reveal of some of the “others”? I’m curious.

  4. #4 |  Max | 

    Crud, I completely forgot about V for Vendetta so I put Braveheart :/

  5. #5 |  VTer | 

    While The Killing Fields and Strangelove are excellent films, the fact that you listed the rest of that crap in the same poll as Cool Hand Luke is an embarrassment.

  6. #6 |  Tom G | 

    Most of these are tough to choose between – but why “Traffic” ? That film was AWFUL. Not only was it racist and simplistic, I really didn’t pick up any “the war on drugs is bad” overtones at all.

  7. #7 |  Alex Knapp | 

    No mention of the best pro-small business movie ever, Ghostbusters?

  8. #8 |  lukas | 

    Avatar just can’t get no love from no one. First the Academy, then you…

  9. #9 |  Chuchundra | 

    Rollerball

  10. #10 |  tb | 

    Most of these are tough to choose between – but why “Traffic” ? That film was AWFUL. Not only was it racist and simplistic, I really didn’t pick up any “the war on drugs is bad” overtones at all.

    I didn’t notice anything racist about it, but I don’t generally watch with my radar on. Can you elaborate on this statement?

    SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

    There were many “the war on drugs is bad” overtones in the movie. Caroline’s father, Bob, is the head of the ONDCP and cannot even keep his daughter clean. The solution in the end is to treat her addiction like the medical and psychological problem that it is, and not to put her in a cage. Manolito’s wife shows us the human carnage of those who are only peripheral to the drug war. Married to an otherwise good cop, she’s left to suffer when Manolito is shot and buried in the desert. There’s Eduardo Ruiz’s speech in the hospital room and in the safe house before he testifies. He understands that you can’t fight what people want and because he got caught, someone else will step in to fill the need now. There’s Monty, showing the futility of the human capital we invest in the drug war. Here’s a dedicated, seemingly incorruptible cop risking his life so some people won’t be able to get high. He seems to understand the futility, but he’s persistent. Wouldn’t this be a better world if he were pursing white-collar criminals or burglars or murderers? There are many lines and scenes in the film that support the thesis, but I’ve only listed four here. Give it another watch.

  11. #11 |  BrentM | 

    v for vendetta, the Matrix and Star Wars are all movies with Libertarian themes.

  12. #12 |  Tom G | 

    Maybe I will give it another watch, the points you mention weren’t very obvious to me. As far as racism, in addition to the majority of Mexicans in the movie being corrupt or criminal, how about the scene where Caroline has to perform a sexual act on a large, very black drug dealer to get her fix. You don’t think that deliberately pushed every stereotype imaginable?

  13. #13 |  Adam | 

    I don’t watch many movies and haven’t seen a lot of these. I chose other: I, Robot.

  14. #14 |  K. Dale Boley | 

    Without a doubt, V for Vendetta.

  15. #15 |  tb | 

    Tom G,

    In a movie about the corruption and the drug war, most characters are going to be corrupt or criminal. Specifically re: Mexicans, neither Monty’s partner, Luis, nor Javier are corrupt. Manolo never really gets involved in shenanigans – he is killed quickly after befriending Salazar’s guards. In the sense that I don’t think drug dealing should be treated criminally to begin with, the only corrupt/criminal Hispanic characters in the movie are Frankie Flowers and General Salazar.

    You may have a point about the black drug dealer, but at what point do truths start being stereotypes and stereotypes start being truths? What color should the drug dealer have been to make you think it wasn’t racist?

  16. #16 |  MDGuy | 

    @tb

    There’s also a short segment where Caroline’s dad is visiting the Mexican border and he’s talking to one of the agents there, who tells him that when supplies are running through smoothly, nobody gets hurt. When the agents make large seizures and the supply gets interrupted, people start getting killed. It’s a very brief moment in the movie but it does get at how the fact of prohibition, much more than the mind-altering effects of drugs, is responsible for so-called “drug-related” violence.

  17. #17 |  Tom_Meyer | 

    As much a fan of Firefly as I am Serenity does not belong on any list of greats. Despite some wonderful moments — including Mal’s wonderful “I aim to misbehave” speech — it’s one of Joss’s biggest failures.

  18. #18 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

    Oh, wait…..

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    V for Vendetta has some brilliant moments, but (being true to the comic book genre) can also be over the top. I’d still vote for it as having the most “fuck the state” message. But I own 7 DVDs of Hugo Weaving (and that’s only 3 movies) and am biased.

    Rollerball is as amazing as any movie when you look at Caan’s performance and the audacity of the story. Create a future sport on skates as a backdrop for an anti-corporate statism message…and pull it off.

    While Cool Hand Luke is clearly the greatest movie on Radley’s list, I’m not sure if I’d list it as the best liberty-themed movie since the liberty message must play such a huge part and other movies feature this message more prominently.

    I’ll have to go with Shakes the Clown, which has been hailed as the Citizen Cane of alcoholic clown movies.

  20. #20 |  bcg | 

    Braveheart is spelled incorrectly.

  21. #21 |  Jason Kuznicki | 

    The Shawshank Redemption? It’s very much in your line of work, after all…

  22. #22 |  Dustin | 

    One that may not be overwhelmingly a favorite but should be mentioned is “Thank You For Smoking.”

  23. #23 |  Michael | 

    The Lives of Others should be the runaway leader for this.

  24. #24 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I was all ready to vote for “Dr. Strangelove” and then I noticed you had “The Lives of Others” on this list. I highly, HIGHLY encourage anybody who has yet to see it to rent it immediately. And for a more lighthearted take on East Germany, check out “Good Bye, Lenin!”

  25. #25 |  Mattocracy | 

    The Incredibles wins hands down for me. That should be watched by every child growing up.

  26. #26 |  Mike H | 

    “Spartacus”, “The 10 Commandments”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “1984”, “The Fugitive”, “Dark City”, and definitely “Star Wars”.

    There are many flavors of liberty, so your tastes may vary.

  27. #27 |  tb | 

    MDGuy,

    Good point. I’d actually forgotten about that one. It’s a much better example than a couple I’d given. Thanks.

  28. #28 |  Andrew S. | 

    I’m a fanboy, I’ll admit it, so this one is easy for me….

    “Take my love, take my land, take me where I cannot stand… I don’t care, I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me… “

  29. #29 |  Billy Beck | 

    “Dr. Strangelove”? “Strangelove“? What the flippin’ hell? I mean, that’s in my All-Time Top-Ten faves, but a “liberty-themed movie”? Not in this life. Did anyone here actually ever see it?

    Listen: I’m pretty sure that a “liberty-themed movie” is about the very last thing that Terry Southern had in mind when he took up Peter George’s novel for a screenplay.

    This is just weird, y’all.

  30. #30 |  Legate Damar | 

    I know a number of you haven’t seen “The Lives of Others.” Go see it. Yes, it’s in subtitles. No, you’ve never heard of it. Netflix it anyway. There were a number of options that I was agonizing amongst until I saw that one on the list.

  31. #31 |  Sam | 

    The People Vs. Larry FlYnt. With a Y. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117318/

  32. #32 |  B | 

    I’ll third (fourth, whatever) The Lives of Others. It is excellent.

    I’m puzzled as to how anyone can see Star Wars (particularly in the context of the entire series) as liberty themed. It’s basically a struggle between two groups of ultra-powerful elites with very specific ideas of how things ought to be for control over the entire freaking galaxy.

  33. #33 |  skunky | 

    I went on my first date with my wife to see Enemy of the State. It has severely curtailed my liberty as a result.

  34. #34 |  wunder | 

    Why the downvotes on Andrew for Serenity? That’s a freaking brilliant movie with a strong liberty message.

    “They hate us because we meddle.”

  35. #35 |  Wavemancali | 

    Since Cool Hand Luke is my favorite movie of all time, I love any chance I can get to vote for it :)

  36. #36 |  Cynical in CA | 

    The Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” by Stephen King.

  37. #37 |  tariqata | 

    Andrew S@24: Thanks a lot. I’d only just gotten that theme song out of my head.

    ClubMedSux@20: Agree that “Good Bye Lenin” is great.

  38. #38 |  Pablo | 

    My vote goes to The Lives of Others. One of the best movies I have ever seen. I liked the way it protrayed an abuse of power arising not out of good intentions, but out of the basest motives. Even had a happy ending, of sorts.

  39. #39 |  Bryce | 

    Given that this blog has kind of been my introduction to flaws in the criminal justice system, I was pretty surprised that Shawshank wasn’t included on the list.

  40. #40 |  William | 

    Serenity wins it for me because the government portrayed is neither evil nor stupid. They’re sympathetic, you know they believe in what they do, even the Operative is horrified by what he feels he has to do but he goes ahead and does it because he wants to make a “better world.” On the other side is Mal’s crew who is willing to both die and cause quite a few deaths in order to expose where those good intentions have led. It portrays the relationship between liberty and authority as complicated and the solution as something no one is comfortable with. At the same time it underlines the core of the libertarian argument: you can’t decide what is for someone else’s own good.

  41. #41 |  Tom_Meyer | 

    Serenity wins it for me because the government portrayed is neither evil nor stupid. They’re sympathetic, you know they believe in what they do, even the Operative is horrified by what he feels he has to do but he goes ahead and does it because he wants to make a “better world.” On the other side is Mal’s crew who is willing to both die and cause quite a few deaths in order to expose where those good intentions have led.

    All very true, but it doesn’t change the fact that it wasn’t a particularly good movie. The humor worked against the action, Inara and Book were there because they had to be, the Reavers were ruined, and it turns out that River was, well, a space slayer. I’ll stick with the series, thank you very much and chalk me up to another vote for The Lives of Others.

  42. #42 |  Marc | 

    I wrote in a vote for “Quills.” I thought the French film “Sade” was an overall better (and at least semi-accurate!) portrayal of the Marquis de Sade, but Quills was definitely a better liberty-themed movie.

  43. #43 |  Ashley Smith | 

    I put other: V for Vendetta.

    But I’m glad to see that others posted Thank you for Smoking and The People vs. Larry Flynt. Great films and should have been on the list to choose from.

  44. #44 |  Brandybuck | 

    The Palermo Connection
    Harry’s War

  45. #45 |  Number 6 | 

    No Legends of the Fall?

  46. #46 |  Rolo Tomasi | 

    Tom_Meyer,

    The point you raised about the quality of Serenity vs Firefly is very good. When I voted for Serenity I automatically lumped Firefly as being part of the choice. I think a lot of people did this as the lyrics were for the show’s theme song. I think if having Firefly being part of the choice makes the case stronger, take it out and the case for Serenity being one of the best movies on its own starts to fall apart. That said movie about how the government trying to make people better turns them (literally) into monsters has to be considered pretty libertarian.

  47. #47 |  random guy | 

    of the choices offered Serenity got my vote.

    I’m surprised at the number of people considering V for Vendetta. Don’t get me wrong I love that movie. But is most definitely about anarchy and vengeance. The titular character is a multiple murderer with most of his victims being matters of cold blooded revenge. His ethics are enforced with the same draconian vision of his enemies, and I know that being a revolutionary he doesn’t exactly have access to a court and jails to enforce his version of the law, but even beyond that we are never given any understanding as to what his version of just law is in the first place.

    He spouts a bunch of nice sounding platitudes about freedom, but never expands upon a pragmatic approach to justice. Even on the eve of his revolution, he would rather die than try to build a better system. It was very clear to me that the story was about a man who became a monster dedicated to revenge, everything else was secondary. The fact that part of his revenge included the fall of a totalitarian state was incidental. Despite how much I enjoy that movie I can’t see it as being an advocate of rational liberty.

  48. #48 |  Sallie | 

    What?? No love for ‘The Castle’, a movie so great that the Institute for Justice screens it at eminent domain fundraising events? The greatest Australian film ever made, IMHO.

  49. #49 |  Matt | 

    Minority Report is my favorite just for the sake of watching.

  50. #50 |  ClubMedSux | 

    The greatest Australian film ever made, IMHO.

    Even better than “Young Einstein”?!

  51. #51 |  Wavemancali | 

    @#50

    Are you (Yahoo) Serious?

  52. #52 |  Andrew S. | 

    #46 | Rolo Tomasi | March 8th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Tom_Meyer,

    The point you raised about the quality of Serenity vs Firefly is very good. When I voted for Serenity I automatically lumped Firefly as being part of the choice. I think a lot of people did this as the lyrics were for the show’s theme song. I think if having Firefly being part of the choice makes the case stronger, take it out and the case for Serenity being one of the best movies on its own starts to fall apart. That said movie about how the government trying to make people better turns them (literally) into monsters has to be considered pretty libertarian.

    Agreed on all parts. Yeah, my vote was more for the series than the movie. But the movie definitely had its own pro-liberty message as well.

    /still won’t forgive Joss Whedon for a certain character’s death near the end though

  53. #53 |  Swimmy | 

    A Scanner Darkly is another pick for major anti-drug-war movie, if people are still unsatisfied with the list.

  54. #54 |  Andrew S. | 

    Continuing on Serenity, this was always my favorite pro-liberty line in the movie (from young River at the beginning)

    “People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome. “

  55. #55 |  skunky | 

    And someone forgot to mention Pootie Tang.

  56. #56 |  Pete Guither | 

    As long as we’re mentioning films that didn’t make the list, I’d include Fahrenheit 451, which had a strong impact on me growing up.

    Also, when we talk about liberty in films, there’s always one speech that comes to my mind, from a movie that’s really not that good overall on liberty, but gets one part right:

    For the record: yes, I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU. But the more important question is why aren’t you, Bob? Now, this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the Bill of Rights, so it naturally begs the question: Why would a senator, his party’s most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution? If you can answer that question, folks, then you’re smarter than I am, because I didn’t understand it until a few hours ago. America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free”.

  57. #57 |  ARCraig | 

    Plenty of great movies on this list, but I’m surprised John Wayne isn’t getting more love for Shenandoah. A great film if you take it a face value, and the anti-authoritarian undercurrent is both blatant but blends well with the characters.

    Soldier in charge of draft: Virginia needs all her sons, Mr. Anderson.

    John Wayne: They don’t belong to the state they belong to ME! When they were babies I never saw the state comin’ around here with a spare tit!

    Plus, how often do you see a treatment of the Civil War that is firmly pessimistic as to both Lincoln’s Liberators and the Glorious Lost Cause?

    Brazil is also an excellent take on the basic 1984/Brave New World formula. I don’t know if it was deliberate, but at one point while listing off various buffoonish bureaucracies, which are all “Central ____”, “Central Banking” becomes the object of an extended gag without any hint that the phrase is in serious, real-world use.

  58. #58 |  Cyto | 

    Ok, it is official. I’m truly a libertarian geek. Not just a libertarian, but a geek too. The list of films discussed here is a big part of my “all time favorites list”, which is probably only shared in libertarian geek circles. Where else are “The Incredibles”, “Serenity”, “Braveheart”, “The People vs Larry Flint” and “Cool Hand Luke” going to show up on a list together. “Brazil”!? I thought I was the only guy left who had even seen that thing. Man, we are one strange group. No wonder our candidates never win elective office.

  59. #59 |  hamburglar007 | 

    Why isn’t desperate living on this list, the tale of oppressed citizens and a tyrannical queen.

  60. #60 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    What about “A Man for All Seasons”?

  61. #61 |  jhawk | 

    if “Convoy” isn’t about liberty no movie is.

  62. #62 |  twerpy | 

    Cyto, or heck even the rest of you folk, you would probably also enjoy Thunder Road. I don’t think it holds its own with the rest of these films, but it does have its moments, stars Robert Friggin’ Mitchum, and makes for a nice evening’s entertainment.

    I’m definitely going to have to check out The Lives of Others, so thanks for that rec.

  63. #63 |  Red Dawn | 

    Wolverines!

  64. #64 |  longbowhunter | 

    Totally would have voted for V for Vendetta,but I have to say,when the time comes I’m ready to be a bad guy and I aim to misbehave. They can take my land and boil the sea,but they wont take the sky from me!!!!!

  65. #65 |  Tim | 

    @Random Guy (47): I voted for Serenity too just because I love the Firefly ‘verse. But once I went back and re-watched the Firefly series for the third time, I’m pretty sure that Mal is as much a psychopathic killer as V ever was. I guess he seems less menacing because of his charming world-hardened naivety; derring-do; and compatriotism. But still, he seems to kill almost whimsically and without pause. It adds an interesting subtext, and it says something that I didn’t notice it earlier.

    If Serenity weren’t there, I’d probably have gone for “Cool Hand Luke”. If “Seven Samurai” were there, I’d have gone for that right-off-the-top. Very powerful and bitter message about serving an apparent “just cause” and “common good”. Wow, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

  66. #66 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    @#62: for some reason, anytime someone uses the word “derring-do” I immediately start hearing everything they write in the voice of Pontius Pilate from “The Life of Brian”

  67. #67 |  Ben | 

    #36 | Cynical in CA |

    The Shawshank Redemption, based on the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” by Stephen King.

    This. Although it’s a story about hope more than it is liberty. Liberty was a secondary theme.

    I hope I can make it across the border.
    I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.
    I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
    I hope.

  68. #68 |  Tom_Meyer | 

    That said movie about how the government trying to make people better turns them (literally) into monsters has to be considered pretty libertarian.

    Totally agreed.

    What about “A Man for All Seasons”?

    I was just thinking that myself; certainly one of the best films about conscience.

  69. #69 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Hi Ben,

    From Red’s POV, I agree that hope is the central theme, and I agree that Red can be considered the protagonist. I was thinking more from Andy’s perspective, and I think that liberty is his central theme.

  70. #70 |  Billy Beck | 

    “I’m surprised John Wayne isn’t getting more love for Shenandoah.”

    Maybe it’s because John Wayne wasn’t in that film for so much as the length of one single frame.

    That was Jimmy Stewart, mate. Great film.

  71. #71 |  Tom Sullivan | 

    #65 – Tim, “I’m pretty sure that Mal is as much a psychopathic killer as V ever was. I guess he seems less menacing because of his charming world-hardened naivety; derring-do; and compatriotism. But still, he seems to kill almost whimsically and without pause.”

    I have to respectfully disagree. In both the series (what I’ve seen so far) and the movie I felt Mal showed proper and well-reasoned restraint with the Operative, the mole from the first or second show(at least initially), and the older female “fence” and her crew from the first show (again initially). When he did kill there were solid humanitarian / libertarian reasons for it (the mole once he was holding a gun to the doctor’s head; and the guy he kicked off the transport during the Reaver raid in the movie come to mind). Just because he did it with conviction and without hesitation is not a result of psychopathic tendancies but rather ingrained principles. As he said to the doctor, and I paraphrase: “If I’m going to kill you; you will be facing me and you will be armed.”

    Tom

  72. #72 |  random guy | 

    @65 Tim

    To me its not so much about the violence, but the context of the violence. In Firefly Mal and his crew are outlaws, the only reason the audience identifies with them is because they are protagonists. But they most certainly aren’t revolutionaries (any more), the pro-liberty message of the show and movie generally comes from the fact that the government, the good guys, are just as bad if not worse than the outlaws. This makes its message a little more true to life.

    However in V the main character is a stated revolutionary. But he is the Che Guevara breed of revolutionary, sticking around long enough to tear down one government and doing nothing to ensure a better one takes its place. I think thats the difference, in V for Vendetta the main characters actions subverts the pro-liberty message, while in the Firefly verse the pro-liberty message is more a product of the setting and rarely spelled out in a black and white philosophy (with the exception of Mals speech in the movie).

    But even putting that aside, I still haven’t seen an ideal pro-liberty message in a film. Almost every time a pro-liberty character emerges they had to first be victimized by the state. This always reduces the story to a more simplistic plot of revenge, which is disappointing because it makes it appear as though no one can stand up for liberty on principle alone. In Hollywood no one cares about freedom until they have been robbed of it, which as true as that may be to many real-life people, it still undermines the general idea that liberty can be reason enough in itself to support. Which is a point I feel is very critical for civil rights struggles. A motivation stemming from revenge is irrational and will undermine a struggle and corrupt its goals. The pursuit of liberty must come from principle in order to be clearly defined and attainable.

  73. #73 |  Tim | 

    I agree, Serenity isn’t the best pro-liberty movie. But I also think that to be effective as art, a pro-liberty message has to be couched in the ironic negative outcomes of trying to achieve a collectivist good. A direct pro-liberty message would just come off as cheese and/or propaganda. Hence, my picks of Seven Samurai and Cool Hand Luke.

    re: Malcolm Reynolds: yes, he shows restraint at times but he’s very inconsistent (since it’s Joss & co., I credit this to a nuanced character as opposed to sloppy writing). In the Train Job, he outright executes Niska’s surrendered (=unarmed and helpless) bodyguard by kicking him into a turbine intake (!) for giving him some lip. In the pilot, he threatens to throw Simon out the airlock into hard vacuum. In the movie, he summarily executes the survivor of the ship that destroyed Haven monastery. In Ariel, he suckerpunches Jayne in the head with a crescent wrench and again intends to leave him sucking vacuum before (again, impulsively) sparing him after Jayne’s confession and plea.

    OK, in the latter two cases it’s hard to have much sympathy for the target but it’s still hardly “I’ll be facing you and you’ll be armed.” The former cases are just blatant. And after all that killing, he DOESN’T kill Niska for some reason (although maybe he was just too groggy from the torture to manage, I dunno).

    I just have to conclude that Mal is crazy, and no one minds (neither the crew nor audience) because he’s so charismatic and capable. I suspect that if the show weren’t cancelled, Mal’s situational-morality would have become much more prominent as part of the planned arc which would lead Book to “resign” from the crew and settle down at Haven before the timeline of the movie.

    Anyway, Mal:crew::V:Evie. The major difference is that Mal doesn’t have a plan, and just does the “right” thing mostly by reflex.

  74. #74 |  Daze | 

    One thing I like about being a libertarian is that libertarians are much less prone to judging artworks on ideological grounds. I had my fill of that in my pre-libertarian academic days.

    That said, how about Duck Soup?

  75. #75 |  ARCraig | 

    V for Vendetta is wonderfully anti-authoritarian and unabashedly anarchist, but libertarian it ain’t. Alan Moore is a master at painting shades of moral gray, and the bad side of V is that he’s an unrepentant murderer of innocent bystanders (the book is much less ambiguous than the the movie about this), and a sadist who imprisons and tortures his one “friend” to make her the same kind of emotionally scarred, heartless killing machine he is (in the book Evie assumes the role of V herself after his death). Alan Moore’s V is more akin to the bomb-throwing anarchists of old, deliberately creating chaos as a means of creation and renewal, than any hypothetical libertarian revolutionary.

    Watchmen is probably the better libertarian tale, and better overall. He’s called it a “meditation on power”, which is an apt description of how his well-intentioned superheros are corrupted by the power they have over others. In the end, the only consistent “good guy”, who refuses to compromise and accept killing innocents for the supposed greater good, is the Ayn Rand-inspired maniac Rorschach. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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