National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Even more Brownian Saturday afternoon action-adventure. Alternate title: The Bourne Discovery.

After the gang has the requisite off-screen breakup, Ed Harris crawls out of the woodwork and accused one of Cage’s great-great-grandfather of being in league with John Wilkes Booth, of Lincoln assassination infamy. To prove him wrong, the gang goes on a globe-trotting trip that culminates in finding a Native American city of gold (bizarrely styled after Mayan temples) underneath Mounth Rushmore. The bad guy dies to rescue him, so everything is neatly solved.

There’s more space for Cage to overact here, but it’s all very tame.

It’s not easy to tell this and the original apart.

I knew little about Mount Rushmore, and the film uses it as a backdrop, but it’s history can only be summed up as Only in America.

After some dude heard about a similar monument dedicated to Confederate bigwigs, he decided his state should have something similar, to boost tourism to the area. After roping in a senator, he went looking for sculptors. As his second choice, he chose the same KKK member that started Stone Mountain. He spent years raising funds for the project, but when the federal government sent some money, he was pushed aside.

The sculptor, Borglum, started Stone Mountain, saying at a fundraiser:

The Confederacy furnished the story, God furnished the mountain. If I can furnish the craftsmanship and you will furnish the financial support, then we will put there something before which the world will stand amazed.

Eventually he got into fights with the KKK over the work and eventually left after smashing his models. His successors (for there were several) blasted away all his contributions to the project. Other recent contributions to the project remain to be added.

After securing federal funding, the work finally started. When FDR was elected, amidst his reforms he gave control over the project to the Department of the Interior, which lead to more delays as the sculptor fought for years over control. Eventually, he shifted that control to a committee that consisted of his buddies, got drunk with power and planned a separate monument nearby that told the story of the entire United States. Congress got hear of this misappropriation of money and threatened to cut funding. He didn’t quit, so he spent years trying to get extra funds for his side-project and eventually died. On his death the monument was half-finished (it was supposed to show the presidents from head to waist), but by that time WW2 loomed, so it was quickly abandoned.


This is my place for ramblings about sequences of images that exploit the human visual limitation know as persistence of vision.

Ephemera of Vision