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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Penn says movies ignore politics
Sean Penn
Sean Penn won an Oscar for Mystic River
Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn has criticised Hollywood for shying away from politics in movies.

"I don't think there is any art that doesn't respond to the times and I don't think there's enough political films here or anywhere," he said.

The outspoken star was at the Cannes Film Festival promoting his movie, The Assassination of Richard Nixon.

Penn gave his views as Michael Moore aired his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which criticises President George Bush.

In 2003, Penn an anti-war campaigner, was heavily criticised by some quarters for travelling to Iraq and speaking out against the war.

He believed he lost movie roles because of his views.

But he remained unrepentant and has continued to highlight his concerns about the ongoing Iraq situation.

"The politics, as we understand politics to be, are so present in our lives right now that any painting that doesn't reflect it in some ways is dismissible to me," he said.

Often when people's hearts are oppressed and silenced they will act in extreme and violent and horrible ways,
Sean Penn
The Assassination of Richard Nixon is based on the true story of a furniture salesman who plotted to kill President Nixon in 1974 by flying an airliner into the White House.

Central character Samuel Byck's extreme stance against corruption manifested itself in him wanting to act violently, said Penn.

Parallel

Penn said he saw the film as a parable for modern times because of the striking similarities with the 11 September attacks.

"It's the story of somebody who feels that there's a hand at their throat and that, bit by bit, they act to remove that hand," said Penn.

"Often when people's hearts are oppressed and silenced they will act in extreme and violent and horrible ways," he said.

"So I'd like to think that in the parallel that this dramatises well, there will be some thoughts provoked about how to fix the problem before it happens," Penn added.

Penn won a best actor Academy Award in 2004 for his performance in Mystic River.




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