Friday, July 13, 2018

Painfully Rich

So we all know - and don't really believe - that being rich doesn't make you happy, unless, that is, we have been stinking, filthy, "painfully rich" as the condition is described by the the author of the book on the Getty family, on which the 2017 film All the Money in the World is partly based. Only then, it would seem, do we know, especially if we are the heirs to such painful riches, as J.Paul Getty's children and grandchildren were.

But now, with the production at last of this painfully real 'truth inspired' film of the 1973 kidnapping of one of Getty's grandchildren, we, the not painfully stinking, can finally see for ourselves just what BIG money can do to a man and his family.

And so I urge all to see this film, as I have just done, for that reason if no other. Although you won't only come away thinking how much better you feel about not being rich. For the story of how the grandfather, at the time the richest man in the world, refused to pay the ransom money for the safe return of his grandson, and as a result the grandson was kept in near squalor and fear for his life for five months and eventually had his right ear cut off, an ordeal that he never recovered from psychologically and died prematurely no doubt partly as a result of, will also shock you to the core, as seeing is believing - almost - to learn just how ruthlessly arrogant and heartless an insanely money-obsessed man can actually be, as if we needed any more evidence of this, which we don't really.

But the film is also illuminating on a gender front, as the mother of the kidnapped boy, who was just 16 at the time, fights such a valiant and tireless battle against this ruthlessness on behalf of her son, having asked Getty for no money to raise her three children when she was divorced from her husband, Paul Getty Jr, that her lack of greed, humanity and strength, which in the end sees her son finally returned to her, albeit scarred for life, provides a salient and reassuring counter to the man's corrupt, callous heart.

I feel reassured at least. And I wonder how many gender stories of this sort remain out there still untold, it took long enough to tell this one, though it is totally made for film.

When Getty senior died he left not one penny in his will for the kidnapped grandson (though he himself had inherited a business worth 10 million from his father). What a fucking arsehole, even if, in theory at least, he might have been doing the boy a favour. Alas, it was too late for that.

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