So for my video I was inspired to make a little mock scary movie trailer. I compiled a bunch of scary movie scenes to create my own little rendition of the typical scary movie. The film follows the trail of 3 friends and “a little boy” as they deal with Leatherface and zombies! The point of it is that movies, especially scary movies, have certain elements in common with one another. There are certain aspects of a scary film we can usually expect to see, such as running, and intense screaming women, etc… Throughout the class, I kept noticing this and therefore thought it will be funny to mash some of these movies together. I hope it makes you laugh 🙂
After watching Se7en, I kept wondering what movie I was reminded of. I had several déjà vu moments while watching the movie and I was really annoyed at myself for not remembering what I was remembering. So I did what most normal people do in times of distress – I googled! Amazingly, I was rewarded with the following link…
If any of you would like to read the blog, feel free. I, however, did not. Just the title did it for me! The movie I was subconsciously comparing Se7en to was Silence of the Lambs. Now, those that know me (and the professor who read my first paper) already know that one of my all time favorites movies is Silence of the Lambs. Why? I am not entirely sure but I watched it with my siblings when I was about 5 and never stopped loving it since. Though the plots of both these movies are drastically different, there are certain moments of the film that scream “Remember me?” Take the following pictures as proof…
Behind bars: http://poietes.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/silence-of-the-lambs.jpg
Dr. Lecter and John Doe even look similar:
Calm with authorities:
Besides for the visual similarities, both villains share certain vital characteristics. They are both manipulative with the police, are hardly ever hysterical, are bald (in a creepy way), etc… Wonder if any of you guys grasped a similar comparison when watching the film?
P.S. Though I think both movies are similar, I am not suggesting that Se7en, which was released in 1995, copied Silence of the Lambs, which was released in 1991. I actually think that the psychopathic and calm serial killer is indicative of the fear of the generation of ruthless and unstoppable murderers pervading the streets. Don’t you agree?
At 1 a.m. last night I decided it was time to watch Marathon Man, which isn’t a brilliant idea to begin with. Watching a movie late at night is one thing. Watching a sadistic, twisted, and graphically violent film like Marathon Man is entirely a different endeavor. I knew the film was about paranoia but a Joseph Mengele dentist/murderer on a rampage against anyone who could possibly rob him I was not prepared for. Honestly, how many times did “Is it safe” need to be asked? Also, was the drill really necessary? I literally found myself dialing people in middle of the night and forcing them to stay on the phone with me until the evil man was done. I felt myself cringing throughout the movie and this kind of distracted me from the plot. I wasn’t the only one, since according to imdb the torture scene was cut short due to extreme audience disgust. I did manage to grasp the plot in between scenes I nearly blacked out in and I was truly impressed. There were, however, a few way too obvious moments:
1. The American brave official was in reality a bad guy. Always got to turn on the American government, don’t we?
2. Babe didn’t end up killing Dr. Szell. Szell just jumped after his diamonds.
3. Elsa was working for the bad guys.
Besides for the 3 points above, I found the movie overall very entertaining and well made. It really spoke to the paranoia genre since Szell caused all the chaos due to his paranoia of being robbed. He could have just shaved his head, strolled down to the bank, picked up his diamonds, and bounced. Instead, he recruited the “Division,” killed Babe’s brother, nearly tortured Babe to death, and even killed a poor, innocent Auschwitz survivor. Paranoia ultimately led to the entire story plot.
For comparative purposes, I have inserted a link to a website about Joseph Mengele. The Dr. Szell character is mimicked after Mengele. Szell was known as the “White Angel,” and Mengele is infamously known as the “Angel of Death.” Similarly, Szell tortured Babe and Mengele tortured countless victims of the concentration camp. Mengele’s “experiments” included adding chemicals to eyes in an attempt to see if they changed color, sewing together the hands of two children to create Siamese twins, forcing twins to undergo extremely painful and pointless procedures, and many more sadistic routines. Just a warning: Content is extremely disturbing.
I really should not have watched Dr. Strangelove immediately before going to sleep. Due to the extreme oddness of the characters and plot, I was left with strange dreams all night long. I cannot explain how much I loved/hated this movie. My bipolar feelings towards the film stem due its weird nature and not from personal inconsistency.
Why I liked it? It was hysterical!!! Excuse me, but the President of the U.S. talking to Dmitry scenes were so entertaining. Of course, Dmitry was depicted as drunk and mildly insane and the U.S. president was calm and collected. Dr. Strangelove was funny as well. I especially love the parts where his run away hand tried to strangle him and when he referred to the president as “Mein Fuehrer.” I enjoyed the Russian ambassador’s absolutely remarkable comment that Russia’s source for thinking America had built a doomsday device was the NY Times. I didn’t even know that joke was relevant to the time period but I guess some things never change.
Why I did not like it? Well, I really don’t get why Peter Sellers had to play three characters. Was this a budget related issue? Was it for comedic purposes? Either way, I didn’t appreciate it. It was annoying to see the same face in nearly every scene. Also, I especially hated the end. So civilization is essentially destroyed, only several thousand will survive, life will need to move underground, but it’s all good because monogamy is no more. I feel like this had nothing to do with the plot of the movie and was such a foolish way to end a good film. This scene managed to kill most of the movie’s allure for me.
Overall, Dr. Strangelove is a good movie. It has a nice message for humanity and is still relevant today. It managed to merge humor and seriousness well. However, certain techniques seemed unsuitable for the movie.
After the presentation on Thursday, I was inspired to ask my Ukrainian born mother if she too remembered encountering any pro-communist, anti-American cartoons while she was growing up. She seemed a little dazed by the question, as if she had never even considered before that there were such cartoons. Of course I forgot the name of the cartoon we watched in class and therefore had no hard evidence to present to her. However, I continued to press on. Did she really not remember any propaganda filled cartoons filled with innocent looking, communist dancing/singing happy go lucky creatures facing some horrible, gun blasting, cruel American soldier looking monsters? She affirmed that she did not.
Three possibilities occurred to me. A: My mother really never watched such cartoons. Considering that TV time was limited and my mother was a scholastic over achiever, this is definitely possible. B: My mother has Americanized herself to a point that she actually has forgotten certain memorable animated features of her youth – also possible. Or, C: Russian filmmakers/cartoonists were exceptionally gifted at hiding their true intentions and thus able to make the common public believe that they were in fact watching an innocent cartoon and not partaking in a political ploy to control the masses. For the benefit of this blog entry, I decided to go with C. A & B really don’t leave much to talk about.
Naturally, even my mother had to agree that there was strong political backlash against America during the Cold War years. There were military parades throughout the Soviet Union, sending a message out to the world of “Don’t mess. We got guns.” Stalin would regularly entertain passionate monologues spurring anti-American sentiments on the radio. Americans were usually perceived as ungrateful, uneducated, and ignorant. However, all this did not surprise me. I wanted the real dirty stuff – the cartoons!
In my quest for animated truth, I stumbled upon possibly the most blatantly anti-American media item I have ever encountered.
So for those of you who will not watch the full 10 minute cartoon, though I STRONGLY suggest you do since it’s really actually funny, this animated feature tells a most remarkable tale. The story itself is based on a poem by Sergei Mihalkov, a Russian author of children’s literature. Basically, an old rich American woman dies. Her intense greediness and impracticalness leads her to leave a million dollars to her bulldog. (Leona Helmsley anyone?!!!) This dog essentially buys his way into power and becomes a member of Congress. The moral of the story is that in America money can buy everything and government officials don’t require a very high intelligence.
So after my initial crack up at the cartoon, I began to ponder if people took this stuff seriously. Ok, sometimes I too feel certain Congressmen aren’t the brightest of people. After all, my favorite quote is Mark Twain’s “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” But deep down I have respect for the system. However, Russians during the cold war era probably did not. Thus, cartoons such as this one must have left them with a very odd impression of Americans. While back home, we were thinking communists were anti-family, anti-business, etc…, they were thinking we were rich, lazy, and mentally handicapped. We thought we were fighting dangerous villains and they thought they were arguing with developmentally challenged Westerners. No wonder nobody won!
P.S. Before I end off, I would like to let you all know that I found the cartoon we watched in class and showed it to my mother. She had in fact never watched it. Moreover, the dark people we thought were Americans she actually identified as Germans. America was depicted in one scene but very briefly.
After watching Gilda and Laura in one night, I began to ponder how one watches one without the other. Due to the class assignment, I had the pleasure of watching them back to back and therefore was able to compare and contrast two spectrums of film noir. This comparison led me to an understanding that Laura Mulvey might frown upon – if used correctly, female sexuality in the film noir era can actually empower the woman. True, female sexuality would have been inserted into the films of this age by the hands of the men in charge. Admittedly, it probably wasn’t intended to empower the female characters involved. Nonetheless, a sexual female role is not necessarily a passive one.
According to Mulvey, “traditionally, the woman displayed has functioned on two levels: as erotic objects for characters within the screen story, and as erotic object for the spectator within the auditorium, with a shifting tension between the looks on either side of the screen.” (p. 488) But Gilda begs to differ, Mulvey! Yes, Gilda is erotic. Yes, Gilda might serve as the erotic object for characters within the screen story. However, she is more than the objectification of female beauty. To truly appreciate this fact we need to compare her to a character that fits Mulvey’s definition perfectly. Conveniently, we watched Laura.
Laura is a girl in need of a good saving. In fact, she was saved several times in the movie. First, Waldo saves her from a boring and pointless career. Then, Shelby saves her from Waldo. Finally, detective McPherson saves her from death by Waldo, love with unfaithful Shelby, and probably everything else one can imagine as bad and dangerous. Essentially, we could replace Laura with a cardboard box and the movie would lose very little besides something nice to look at. Of course, I exaggerate but the main point is that the plot does not depend on Laura. She doesn’t move the sequence of events – the men do. Laura’s arguably main addition to the storyline is her traveling to the country for the weekend of the murder. However, it isn’t Laura’s trip to the country that moved Waldo to murder. She could have gone to the country, New Jersey, Paris, or Jupiter; it wouldn’t have mattered to the storyline because Waldo killed Shelby’s lover for his own reasons. Thus, in terms of Laura, Mulvey is right – she does stand “in patriarchal culture as signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his fantasies and obsessions through linguistic command” (p. 484)
Gilda, unlike Laura, is not a passive female character. Rather, she makes her own fate and asserts her own downfall. Gilda chooses to marry Ballin, to make Johnny jealous, to run away, to come back, etc… Her decisions didn’t just matter to the plot, they made the plot. These important decisions relied heavily on sexuality, which is why Mulvey would be unhappy with this film. However, though Gilda depended on her sexuality, she didn’t weaken her own free will by doing so. She used what tools were available to her at the time to get what she ultimately wanted – Johnny. Surrounded by strong male characters and an almost entirely male gambling society, Gilda utilized her beauty and seductiveness for her own advantage. How else would she have gotten Johnny? She couldn’t make him notice her by becoming his casino boss, by making more money than him, or by rising to a higher social stature than him on her own. All she could do was be sexier than him and marry “well.” Though her decisions did backfire at her by making Johnny more angry than jealous, at the end she ended up with her man. Without Gilda the character, there would be no Gilda the movie. Thus, though Mulvey is correct to assert female characters serve as pleasant objects for men to look at in film noir films, Gilda’s character also managed to create her own destiny and therefore stands as an example of film noir’s strong, active, AND beautiful female personality.
The following is a clip I found comparing Gilda and Laura. In this short clip, one can pick up on the differences between the characters and contrast their strength and assertiveness. Though both characters are beautiful in the scenes, their beauty comes to serve different purposes and is more intentionally used by Gilda than by Laura. Enjoy the background Coldplay.