Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese

This one is filled with spoilers, mixed up, accidentally hidden and crystal-clear spoilers. If you didn’t see the movie and hate spoilers, don’t read it but you should definitely see the movie. If you saw the movie than scroll over the trailer and read if you feel like it. You are more than welcomed to place a comment.

Stuck in the middle of nature, humanity is, absurdly, not in equilibrium but off-balance. Only animals and the gods, if gods exist, are in harmony with the world, their violence and goodness are extreme, never controlled, sublime.

Our brain is the tool that can help us find an equilibrium that won’t hurt us, our surroundings or the others. It is also the tool that can make us perfectly violent. In the same time, our brain is the first to stop us in achieving perfection be it in goodness or in violence.

We don’t use our brain to make our existence truer. Day by day we exhaust it building the scenario in which we’re the good guy – sometimes the victim, sometimes the hero – who always fights for the right cause. All our actions have perfect alibis. Our brain is working overtime on that.

Cinema is one of the many reasons we are all prisoner of our self-absorbed, escapist scenarios. This form of entertainment was the opium of the people throughout the 20th century. The scars of this century were continuously looked after by cinema; healing them and opening them repeatedly.

Cinema offered much stronger illusions, released more powerful violence, feed more effectively the frustrations than any other force that influenced the masses. Because cinema it’s not the judging, finger-pointing church, nor the ruthless economy, nor the humiliating politics. It washes off class-boundaries, moral values and offers everybody a personalized ecstasy pill in the dark. It offers the illusion of freedom in a damp, dark room.

Today, even if one’s not a cinemagoer he or she would still build up the conscience-appeasing scenario resembling to film scenarios of the cinema’s golden era, because the silver screen left a prominent mark on our day-dreaming language.

In the same way cinema abducts us and melts our brain into whatever story we are watching, the scenarios we build up every day to overcome our pettiness, cowardice and harm we inflict on the world, alienate us from our true selves, they alienate us from the truth about our actions. Luckily, like any form of art, cinema learned to offer the opposite too, to expose our weaknesses, to work as a wake-up call.

What does it mean to be true to oneself? Art, religion, secular law, philosophy and even sports talk about freedom, honesty and fair-play. We brag about all this things when we feel mistreated but do we use them effectively in our relationships with our fellow human being?

Freedom is probably the most uttered word in human history, it is the star concept of human kind yet we seem to be most afraid of using it. Because freedom means to choose between those two sublime extremes only animal and gods can reach: pure violence and pure goodness. If we practice the first we’re locked away, if we practice the second we’d probably end up crucified. So what’s a human to do with freedom? What does it mean to be free on a human scale? How do we become free? Once free, can we still be active in society or even alive?

If we are lucky, as the main character in Shutter Island is, we’d have a few people (or experiences, or accidents, or studies) around us who’d conduct on us an intervention at the end of which we’d become self-aware, able to recognize our defense mechanisms, our disgraceful and our honorable traits etc. If we accept the intervention – we’ve already found an honorable trait; courage – we have the chance to free ourselves from our alienating dream, to take a few steps back and have an objective look at ourselves. Now we are free to choose to live without illusions, exposed or we can choose to reenter our cozy, illusionary cage. Either way, we become free to choose.

For us, the “sane” ones, who commit but trivial crimes-that sometimes hurt like torture, sometime feel like murder – what are the choices if we want to have choices? To head for the lighthouse or to stay in society’s ever reshaping cage which will never turn us into perfect lambs, the cage which will only continue to frustrate the lonely wolf within and will always tolerate our numbing scenarios.

Shutter Island is a heartbreaking psychological journey from the illusionary scenario to self-awareness. At the end of it there is freedom to choose between recognizing the harm inflicted on the world or to have a good old-fashioned transorbital lobotomy.

The movie is perfectly built; its architecture has the foundation on one person’s perspective; the music, the surroundings, the cast, the special effects all play along a perfect tune. That one character, whose perspective Scorsese masterly follows, is played by Leonardo di Caprio never off-key.

This escapist story could have not reached its goals in another art form than cinema. A book, a painting, a music score could never conquer our brains as totally as the pervert cinematographic tools do. That’s why Shutter Island is another perfect movie, for it can’t be anything else.


Das Weisse Band – Michael Haneke

The violence of the innocents, the guilt of he Fathers.

A community perverted by the ideal of religious morality it is not an impossible background to develop a story no matter the religion or geographical zone. In this case, Haneke chooses a german, Christian, protestant, small community where guilt is a cross even its youngest member bears it with consciousness.

The father figure is a perfect and horrible example of the biblical quote “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God”. Father’s word is not to be crossed. When this happens it proves that the father is not worthy of his position, he even disappears in the most blamable manner.

Perversion due to morality it might sound contradictory. But when moral restrictions cross the path with natural development of teenagers or gayety of little children how else can it be called? The children of this community are deeply affected by a sterile, bigotist education. The atmosphere in the families is cold and traces of tenderness between the members are almost impossible to find. Signs of perversion through false, harsh morality can be recognized also in the adult characters of this community who, behind strongly affirmed moral values, hide sexual perversions, lack of sensibility, cowardice.

To balance this main part of the story, Haneke includes in this small society some outsiders. The youngest character of the community, the narrator, the nanny and the baron’s wife are strangers to this type of life. Each of them can relate to this community only to a certain level. Through their perception we, viewers, find our way out of this nightmare. We are allowed to hope that not all Christians, not all Protestants, not all small communities are terrifying. Then the war comes…

Haneke´s white is unbearable. One could feel the urge to put on the sunglasses. Shots are clear and reflect, all through the movie, the psychology of the whole community trapped in a traditionalist, burdening view on guilt and principles of good and evil.
Haneke´s camera acts like a member of the community, chooses not to take part of the burial ceremony of a suicide, remains behind closed doors when a father punishes his children and when a man first sees his dead wife, it is shy and evasive when it captures a sex scene; the perfect behavior for a good, humble, reserved Christian. The camera just, like the community, sees only what it chooses to see, to accept. The images are photographed in a way that emphasizes the psychological rigidity of the characters within. The film is shot in black and blinding white. Grey tones are hard to find. The lines that construct the images are almost exclusively horizontals and verticals. Our Lord’s cross is easy to be reproduced in every moment.

This type of purism in constructing the image adds to the merciless difference that is made between good and evil, between what’s pleasant and unpleasant in the eyes of God. It is the best vessel Haneke could choose to tell a story about the incompatibility between the pure, constant nature of an ideal-God and the fluid, changeable, diverse nature of humans aspiring towards any ideal.

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