“The Hitch”, a wonderful new film about Hitchens: and it’s free!

April 14, 2015 • 1:00 pm

Matthew Cobb called my attention to a tw**t by Richard Dawkins:

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 7.09.35 AMAnd, sure enough, there’s a one hour and 22 minute documentary about Hitchens that I’d somehow missed. Perhaps readers have seen it before, as it’s been posted for 11 months. I’ve now watched it, and it is indeed very good. Take some time, put it on full screen, and, if you will, pour a glass of Mr. Walker’s amber restorative.

Although it starts slow, it picks up quickly, and parts of it are ineffably moving, like Hitchens’s remembrances of his mother. Most readers will take issue with his position on the Iraq war, but listen to him nevertheless. You don’t want to listen only to people with whom you agree, do you? Part Five, on free speech, is particularly stirring, and segues into the segment on religion.  You will, if you’re sentient, be in tears for the last ten minutes.

Here it is:

The film was made by Kristoffer Hellesmark, and you can get more information here.

Although Hitch is gone, and if, like me, you were a fan, this will make you sad. The great voice is stilled forever. But even more, it will inspire you to keep up the good fight.

35 thoughts on ““The Hitch”, a wonderful new film about Hitchens: and it’s free!

  1. Hitchens taught me -among other things- that if the charge of offense is allowed in a debate, then we atheists could and should be outraged and offended too. He had the perfect mix of cold rationalism and emotion, or pathos and logos as the Greek rhetorical masters would say.

    I think that’s the main difference between ‘old atheists’ and ‘new atheists’. New atheists won’t put up with society’s respect for faith.

  2. “Even as I tried to convince myself, I realised what I have often had to accept since, that if you have to try and persuade yourself of something, you are probably already very much inclined to doubt or distrust it.” I somehow overlooked or ignored these words when I first read Hitch-22. Thank you for sharing.

    1. OT, but I had that problem with quantum mechanics, decades ago. I came around to accept QM because it produced spectacular results, and the controversial theoretical interpretations were nowhere near as significant as the practical consequences. All before I ever heard of Hitch.
      Nonetheless, I suppose that Hitch would endorse going with the real life consequences over the idealistic theoretical (even theological) controversies.
      That’s my stance and I’m sticking with it. I admit to an engineering attitude of let’s just get things done that we really want.

  3. If not for forcing myself to acknowledge and ingest his argument in favor of the war in Iraq, I may have remained the same polemical idealogue I was when I was 25. If there is one person most responsible for giving me the gift of critical thought, that person is Christopher Hitchens.

    1. The Iraq war situation is interesting. I think it’s clear that he thought it justified primarily because Saddam was a murderous dictator and he believed the people of Iraq deserved help in ridding themselves of him. But because of his (Hitch’s) desire to justify the war, he was overly accepting of the arguments and “evidence” put forth by the Bush administration. Had he, all along, said that yellowcake and imminent threats and WMDs and connections to 9/11 are irrelevant and he still supports the war, that would’ve, I think, been a more defensible position.

      1. That wasn’t meant as a defense of his position. I agree with all of your criticisms and I still ultimately disagreed with the invasion, mostly because it was a wasteful boondoggle that accomplished limited if any strategic goals and it mostly served to make politically well connected contractors a lot of profit in the form of cost-plus and no bid contracts. What I meant was Hitchens defense of the invasion forced me to assess that argument, and subsequently others as well, objectively instead of through a predisposed, polemical prism.

        1. I knew what you meant. I wasn’t clear, I guess. I was sort of agreeing with you that he made me think harder about the whole situation and I eventually concluded that he was wrong, but one of his reasons was at least defensible. As opposed to the other reasons which were demonstrably false and frankly ridiculous. It is interesting that such a sharp thinker could be so blind to his own bias and misjudge fairly straightforward evidence contrary to his position. It’s a good reminder for all of us. We must be aware of our own biases and take care not to indulge them.

  4. The fact that such material is possible to find, and then even more startlingly, to be available as a free download surely represents the internet at it’s very best.

    There isn’t a person who personally I never knew myself, whose loss I both feel and mourn so very much as I do Christopher Hitchens.

    1. Oddly, no one person*, not Feynman, Einstein, Weinberg, Carroll, or Krauss, has made me think how powerful the universe is as Hitchens. He not only gives me hope that all persons could learn to think for themselves, but that any person, scientist or non-scientist, can be inspired by the world we live in.

      * Sagan inspired, but he pulled us forward into pure wonder. Hitchens tried to push each of us to not blindly accept the tyranny of what of what other men would like us to think is true.

  5. Yes thanks for this with a boring afternoon here love to watch this.With the Presidential race off will need much more things like this to watch talk about boring-Hillary.

  6. As I listened to Hitch on the subject of Iraq, it seemed to me that he was placing too much faith in the assurances of his Iraqi friends that things would improve if Saddam were gone. I thought he was being naive at the time and unfortunately I was right. He and they failed to understand that just because things are bad, doesn’t mean they can’t get worse.

    Nonetheless I hold it in his favour that he supported the war for reasons which spoke well of his heart, if not his head.

    I miss him terribly, there are few people I would not have offered up in his stead to save him, if that bargain could have been struck.

    1. It was very logical that Saddam was making things very bad indeed (therefore they would be better if he were removed), but it seems to be a truism that tyrants are good for keeping warring factions from each other’s throats, and that removing them can sometimes unleash the dogs of civil war, and worse horrors than before.

  7. Thanks for posting this. It is a great piece that I am now sharing with my Facebook friends.

    Thanks again.

  8. Thanks, Jerry. I didn’t mean to spend the evening with a lump in my throat and damp eyes, but it won’t do me any harm to have a reminder of how to go about it when the time comes.

  9. On the Iraq war: Like Hitchens, I supported it. Later I saw my error:
    Just because something is desirable to do (in this case removing Saddam from power) does not mean that the government in place (the Bush administration) can be expected to pull it off competently.
    Classic mistake.

    Michael Ignatieff wrote about this, with the benefit of hindsight in the pages of the New York Times Magazine in 2007, under the title “Getting Iraq Wrong”:

    The lesson I draw for the future is to be less influenced by the passions of people I admire — Iraqi exiles, for example — and to be less swayed by my emotions. I went to northern Iraq in 1992. I saw what Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds. From that moment forward, I believed he had to go. My convictions had all the authority of personal experience, but for that very reason, I let emotion carry me past the hard questions, like: Can Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites hold together in peace what Saddam Hussein held together by terror? I should have known that emotions in politics, as in life, tend to be self-justifying and in matters of ultimate political judgment, nothing, not even your own feelings, should be held immune from the burden of justification through cross-examination and argument.

    And Ignatieff in 2014:
    “it was a mistake to assume that anything good could happen at the hands of Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld.”

    1. The Iraq war is now my a stock example of why the genetic fallacy is not always a fallacy.

      Normally it’s not kosher to dismiss an position because of the character or abilities of the person advocating it – but in this case, it is kosher: if George Bush is arguing that he, George Bush, should be put in charge of an invading force.

    2. “Can Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites hold together in peace what Saddam Hussein held together by terror?”

      I’m wondering if there’s a parallel there with Yugoslavia after Tito?

  10. Again with the political right? Sure he was a neo-con (eg. hawk in foreign policy), but by saying he moved to “the right” (as opposed to moving to the right, which he did by leaving socialism behind) suggests that he was economically and socially right of center, which he wasn’t.

  11. Thank you! What an enjoyable 90 minutes with Hitch (and a glass or three). He told the world right to its face, and we are wiser for it.

  12. being introduced to his work changed the way i looked at everything in the world. it was like finding my favorite album without having to know i was looking for it.

    i had tried watching this documentary months ago, but the background music was too loud. it’s still a bit loud in the opening, but it does sound like that issue was fixed for the most part.

    anyway, so many favorite parts of this, and i had never seen the freethought video of his last appearance. i definitely choked up watching him speak there. i also loved the part where he’s talking about the Life of Brian. he just looks so laid back and easy going there.

    favorite line: you just want a nice quiet life of liberalism. i hope you don’t get it.

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