Nobody can name the boom operator of their favorite movie. The same can be said about the key grip, the unit manager, and the swing gang. Chances are most people do not even know what role these individuals play in a film’s production. Yet without their inputs cinema would be a very poor product indeed. Part of the magic of movies is the emergence of a unified final product from the disparate cooperation among often noteless but noteworthy hands.
General Dmitry Dokhturov is the boom operator of Russia’s war against Napoleon. He’s ever-present but never perceived, faithful to the fight yet forgotten by history. He plays a pivotal role in all the battles we’ve encountered so far: Austerlitz, Smolensk, and Borodino. Today he stands at Aristovo, confronted by the entire French army.
We won’t stay long with Dokhturov but Dokhturov should stay long with us. Let him serve as a reminder that even the humblest among may have a part to play and that life’s ineludible mutualism often demands unsung laborers. For, as Tolstoy writes today, “The man who does not understand the construction of the machine, cannot conceive that the small connecting cog-wheel which revolves quietly is one of the most essential parts of the machine.”
We are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations