Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Twilight Saga - New Moon: Some Ranting...

© Summit Entertainment 2009

This is about the Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) which I saw, because I sort of liked the first film. Oh ho, what a mistake!

Before ranting though, I will defend why I liked Twilight (2008): It spent a long time creating the right grey, green, purple, wet, kind of ’bruised’ atmosphere, for the heroine, Bella Swan to fall in love in. There is breathless awe in the first hint that Edward Cullen, Vampire Lover, is something special, as he looks into her eyes while stopping a crashing van (ah, already before the teeth come out, death, destruction and love are one). Edward was enough of the shining spectacle that he was supposed to be (almost warranting the chest sparkles...). My favourite scene of him is in the classroom, where he appears to have the white wings of an angel, from a stuffed owl behind him. I also got why Bella Swan was an admirable girl - she would never be featured in one of those shopping/ makeover montages, that seem to forever be attempting to be the ‘empowering’ highlight and turning point of girl driven films. Bella isn’t dressed like Miley Cyrus or most other present day teen icons – in fact I can’t even remember a noticeable wardrobe change throughout the film (except for the prom dress worn with the convenient debasement of a leg cast). To boot, her love for Edward-the-freak comes off as strong and brave, rather than being any kind of damsel-in-distress dependability. So yes, Twilight, I liked it as an adult, I would have freaked as a teenager...

New Moon! Starts with a melodramatic full moon being eclipsed by darkness. OK, this is DARK material. Even though I haven’t read the book, I had, by now, seen a pivotal event many times in the blasted trailer: Bella is left by Edward in order to protect her from the ways of the vampire...
The dreariness of the film has already begun to blur my memory, but I do remember that it starts out by making some clear references to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, as a hint of what’s to come. Right. So I prepare myself for pain and beauty and extreme gravity and danger. Cough. I’m reeeaaady... Nothing happens. Several ’haunting’ emo records later, after having lost most of my sympathy for both Edward’s powers of reasoning as well as Bella’s undying love, I’m face to face with a boy man child in the rain flexing some very big muscles! ... I can at this point conclude that any subtlety, that may have been in the first film, has been trampled by sex; any poignancy about star-crossed lovers numbed with stupidity.
Edward has left to protect Bella, yet appears as a vision, when she’s in danger, thus making the girl seek danger (and of course there’s still loads of leftover supernatural perils about), thus making Edward’s reasoning downright dim-witted. Bella keeps brooding about Edward despite of his ass-hole-like behaviour and in doing so neglects her, caring and patient, friends and family completely. She only livens up again when another man enters the picture, who might love/fancy her (muscle boy man child). And this time Bella is in great need of being saved at EVERY turn of the plot – in fact it’s her way of getting attention from the boys (incidentally, I suddenly picture a lady in a corset doing a faux faint…).

At this point I start to feel that all of the allegations made to the series that Bella is an antifeminist heroine, are warranted (an article on this here). I also find truth in Robert Pattinson, a.k.a. Edward Cullen, saying that his character is little else than an empty sex object (for an excellent article on this film’s objectification of its male characters, see ‘The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum’).
So wow, this film manages BOTH to show an example to young girls of a woman with no other goal in life, than for men to fancy her AND make men into stereotypes of female desire. This is double bad!

At the end climax of the film Bella decides to leave her muscle boy man child, who also smells of wet dog, to save Edward. Edward is going to kill himself, because he thinks Bella is dead (ah yes, I see, Romeo and Juliet…). Edward’s stepsister, Alice, who is psychic, comes to Bella first to tell her this. Edward plans to commit suicide, by disobeying vampire rules and being punished for it (what’s wrong with a wooden steak through the heart, I ask?). Bella and Alice rush to Italy, and Bella goes ahead alone since “Edward might read Alice’s mind and hurry the suicide” (surely then he would learn quicker that Bella isn’t dead?). Bella rushes through the crowd and saves the sparkling martyr, and after some chat and the return of the vampires to Bella’s hometown, Edward asks Bella to marry him. Cue HUGE sigh and heavy breathing. THE END.
This finale brings to mind any Jane Austen adaptation where proposal of marriage is the equivalent of Salvation. In New Moon’s modern day setting apparently the supernatural nicely brings back the boundaries, otherwise set by family and society, in the Twilight and New Moon inspirations: Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. So that’s one thing. But why is marriage back as THE ANSWER for a teenage girl? Yikes! I wash my hands of this filth!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Antichrist by Lars von Trier: Interpretation

© Zentropa Entertainment 2009

I saw Antichrist prepared for a gothic/horror fantasy! I wasn’t disappointed – there’s no reason to take this film too seriously. It’s a sumptuous, sexy and contrived piece of symbolism about men and women, and their roles in Western society. And it’s very silly too!

Initially I thought the film was misogynist – and that’s a common opinion. I wrote the following interpretation of the film’s view of its lady lead (named ’she’) and of what drives her, and have to some extent changed my opinion.

Spoilers obviously...

The film opens with a couple’s child falling to its death, while they have passionate sex. For a while the film appears to be an investigation into the patterns of grief. This proves to be very wrong – I think ’guilt’ is the overarching theme. The guilt turns out to be about the original sin of Eve in the Garden of Eden.

There are two important revelations, that I choose to highlight to illustrate this: 1.: We learn that ’she’ saw her son before he fell and could have stopped him. 2: ’She’ spent a summer in ’Eden’, their cabin in the woods, alone with her son, where she every day switched his shoes to the wrong foot, causing permanent damage to his feet. During this time she was writing a thesis about historical murders of women, including witch burnings.

I argue that the two lead characters are archetypes of Western gender roles - this could be supported by the fact that they are merely called 'he' and 'she'. He is intellectually superior to her and attempts to control her emotional ’insanity’ with reason throughout the film. She has tried to break free of this cultural restriction/pattern through her thesis (intellectuality) as well as her aggressive 'masculine' sexuality. She acted out her contempt towards the power of men on her son (the shoes - hindering his activity) and maybe even through her complete indifference to being a mother while having sex, as the boy fell to his death.

Tragically she drives her husband to kill her and burn her like a witch, thus enforcing the power she was fighting and punishing her for her ’rebellion’. I think she does it to herself - she ends up believing that the rebellious female must be punished and de-sexualized, because of her part in the death of the son. The fact that she mutilates both her husband’s and her own genitals, is an attempt to reverse the original sin, by making them both ’innocent’ in Eden again.

The film ends with him killing her and leaving the woods. Three animals greet him on his way and he smiles at them – showing affinity with them. Here I felt the most discomfort on behalf of women - does it mean that nature is male...? Western nature is male – or rather, misogyny has become our human nature?

This is good sport and interesting cinema and possibly quite offensive...

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Paper Dolls

This used to be a blog for my artwork, which has now moved to my website: Stay if you want to read about films, go if you want to see more of the below:

Based on paintings by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.