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  • 311112.1805

    Mel Gibson's follow up to his Christ close encounter Passion is the kinetic Mayamyth Apocalypto. He mimics Apocalypse Now: opening shot (the tapir does a mean imitation helicopter fly-by), then compound, he loads pagan rites for the film's second act-crisis, the Post-Classic beheading ceremony (like it or not, Kurtz's collapsing Khmer temple compound was littered with heads, ending with Chef's). Though the mimicry is subtle homage, there is something very unsubtle about the film, its title, the Greek word for apocalypse. And as any student of the bible knows, Mel's certainly aware that a majority of the new testament's chapters were written in Greek initially, which gives the film away. The apocalypto is the arrival of the europeans, this is the mythology they bring, and it's the word of it in the origin language, it's not Mayan. The european cosmology speaks of an impending apocalypse, something they fear, a passage of destruction, and they unwittingly deliver it as their own myth; they project it onto this 'new world.' The Maya's apocalypse. This is the moment of the apocalypto, this arrival, and it's a clever reversal to Willard's PBR departure in Apocalypse Now.

    Now what's even more unusual about Apocalypto is the birth of the myth Gibson suggests. What happens after the film is hinted at by the entire narrative. The hero, Jaguar Paw, is the sole survivor of a group of men conquered by this unnamed city who fights an almost supernatural battle to return home. The warrior killed by the fer-de-lance even underlines the omen. He even manages to slay one of the city's key warriors and take his knife. And through the omen that releases him to 'fate,' the eclipse that frees him, he leads the final two, the surviving younger warriors, to water where they encounter the apocalypse's arrival. These two warriors will bring the men (and their faith) to the city, where the tale of the now vanished escapee will be retold as a prophecy, as a myth that signaled the beginning of the end.

     

     

  • 31196.1354

    A member of the Gawker brand, io9 is a mixture of pop-science reduction and scifi fandom commentary. When it wants to 'explore,' the opinions emerge and the foolery begins. In a recent, low-caliber moment, the site posted a top-ten list of most embarrassing stereotypes, which vaulted into a takedown of some very easy targets, ignoring the hows or the whys of stereotyping. While their key source medium, science fiction movies, continues its slow decline into oblivion, the site neglects to explore the possibilities in critiquing scifi's strangely simplifying genre, and instead, attacks a central facet of sci fi. One of sc-fi's core themes IS the investigation of the other, the alien, the genre is obviously a lab for kids to explore archetypes and stereotypes and the borders between them. Attacking 10 randomly chosen figures, characters that are essentially a part of our ability to satirize human failure, is like a doctor trying to remove a tumor from a patient with a gun. The writer, the editor of the site, clearly has no comprehension of the legacy of science-fiction (or of the novel concept itself: from Sancho Panza to Jim in Huckleberry Finn). Sci-fi is a genre that lends itself to exploring all of our failures in direct metaphorical mirroring. She attacks Jar-Jar while ignoring both what he represents and why children below 10 liked him much more than they liked humans in the film, the latter a quality Lucas surely was going for, predicting the adult audience would revile him. The difference between archetype and stereotype is perceptive, not objective. Jar-Jar is a satire of ethnic perceptions while employing all of the qualities of an ethnic group that once was dominant but has faded due to another ethnic group's dominance. That the Gungans have retreated underwater to protect their uniqueness occurs here on earth. By applying an ethnic condition on earth to a conflict in outer space between two species is an advancement of our condition to satire. It is an apt commentary that is repeated countless times in fictional planet-hopping. io9, and its lazy exploration of our current day pivotal media, is merely a symptom of a decayed age, the synthetic over and above the meaningful or the brave. Pity on them.

     

  • 31180.0853

    What happens when the developed world loses its inner war with anxiety? Brave New World was a simplification into a fable. In actuality it will be messy. 1994-1999 6% of adults used drugs to combat anxiety or depression. 2003-2008 17% of adults did. In women 45 and up it's 30%.

  • 31153.1705

    This piece accompanies the image.

  • 31141.1555

    "It is our despair at the textural inadequacies of

    language that drives us to heighten the structural ones toward"

    From the back cover:

    "THE SUN HAS GROWN DEADLY...

    THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD, SOCIETY HAS

    PERISHED, SAVAGERY RULES

    OVER ALL. ALL THAT WAS KNOWN 

    IS OVER, ALL THAT WAS FAMILIAR IS

    STRANGE AND TERRIBLE. TODAY

    AND YESTERDAY COLLIDE WITH TOMORROW.

    IN THESE DYING DAYS OF EARTH, 
    A YOUNG DRIFTER ENTERS THE CITY"

     

    The book William Gibson wrote an introduction for and admitted he didn't understand. If Cormac McCarthyism has a counterpart in science-fiction, it is Dhalgren, the most absurdly accurate 'apocalypse' set in some form of earth, in a time-frame no one is exactly sure about. And hallucinations occur sometimes in words that no longer exist (you'll have to read it to see what I mean). It might be a work that outlives us and tells future generations what we really knew about the decay of knowledge and the oral histories that will travel along our children's, children's children. Memories barely of the beginings of the end: "the riot began with a murder, some say it was a plane that crashed. No one really knows. That was the time of fear." The hero is an amnesiac who is labelled "The Kid" and enters the soon to be mythic city of Bellona, only now its inhabitants live mostly in memories, and whatever fragments of life can be scraped by on - temporarily, since cities have no purpose except to store mass memories and here, there are few being made. Just living from cans, having sex, and fighting and sometimes group socialization. Oh, wait, it sounds like our present day cities, only without electricity, cars, running water... Maybe the memories will have meaning. The following chapter-heading paragraphs transition to third-person immediately afterwards.

    "2  It is not that I have no past. Rather, it continually fragments on the terrible and vivid ephemera of now. In the long country, cut with rain, somehow there is nowhere to begin. Loping and limping in the ruts, it would be easier not to think about what she did (was done to her, done to her, done), trying instead to reconstruct what it is at a distance. Oh, but it would not be so terrible had one calf not borne (if I'd look close, it would have been a chain of tiny wounds with moments of flesh between; I've done that myself with a swipe in a garden past a rose) that scratch.

    II   Here I am and am no I. The circle in all, this change changing in winteress, a dawn circle with an image of, the autumn change with a change of mist. Mistake two pictures, one and another. No. Only in seasons of shortlight, only on dead afternoons. I will not be sick again. I will not. You are here.

    ..How can I say that that is my prize possession? (They do not fade, neither those buildings or these.) Rather what we know as real is burned away at invisible heat. What we are concerned with is more insubstantial. I do not know. It is as simple as that. For the hundreth time, I do not know and cannot remember. I do not want to be sick again. I do not want to be sick."

     

  • 3110.1212

    Alan Lomax's crucial, out of print guide to the expanse of North American music has this brilliant map as its front endpaper. By navigating the book, one follows both Alan's and his father John's intensive research into the development of various styles (sourced in various cultures) of music on the 'new' continent. The migration patterns prove the evolutionary role music plays in history. Truncated from the map are the words Wagon, Walking, and Cattle Trails.

  • 312334.0521

    “The interesting thing about Star Wars is - and I dont ever really push this very far, because its not really that important - but there's a lot going on there that most people haven't really come to grips with yet. But when they do, they will find its a much more intricately made clock than most people would imagine."
    George Lucas in Vanity Fair

    "My films operate like silent films, the visuals and the music are where the story is." - Lucas

    Lucas in Wired: “[the art is] making the film ‘about’ something other than what it’s really about. Which is what mythology is, and what storytelling has always been about. Art is communicating with people emotionally without the intellectual artifacts of the current situation, and dealing with very emotional issues.”

     

     

    Following this every few weeks will be a series of articles detailing Phantom Menace's visual narrative. Above, the Jedi arrive watching a screen just like the one we're watching in the theater, mashed-up with Winsor McCay's fantasy visual editorial of a massive opera house.

    What if it were evident that children can sense what adults can’t see. What if adults possess a handicap in how they read films, how they assemble the plots of film-storytelling since they depend primarily on what actors say, that dialogue, reliance on spoken word, is specifically a disadvantage in comprehending this series (and other blockbuster films) devoted to a rancorous, deadly pg-war seemingly between good and evil but is actually at second glance much more complex. Phantom Menace and its two follow-ups are detailed illustrations of our Earth's 'human self war,’ a state of political development that we are addicted to, a crisis-conflict as steady as the human heart beat that ensures, or is a by-product of human tribalism. Underneath the sketchy, almost subliminally bland coating that frosts Star Wars Episodes I, II & III, is a probing, visionary, hallucinatory secreting of secrets, symbols (as well as signs, metaphors and allegories): complex storytelling that is completed unconsciously by the viewer, almost strictly through visuals, and is for all practical purposes unrecognized by the audience and characters that inhabit the film (and lay claim to its narrative). Lucas is making films that children perceive more clearly than adults by rendering its actual story entirely through motion imagery.


    The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy ended its run May 2005 and millions of us, believers and non believers alike, lined up to pay homage to Darth Vader and his conversion from the morose Jedi upstart Anakin Skywalker (embodied by dullish hunk Hayden Christiansen). Reviewers slashed the tires of the two first production models and blessed the third. Maybe blessed is going too far, the films all come with reviewer caveats: the Prequel Trilogy employs chilly-stiff acting, plot that runs heavily, couple this with the extensive, hyperaction sequences, the first three episodes seem odd departures from the Original three Star Wars films.  Those were bustling, chaotic, gritty; Episodes IV-VI vibrated with excitable self-discovery, pop-culture found audiences floated through ’77, ’80 and ‘83 summer heat on this mutating blockbuster high, repeating their Star Wars fixes as the first multiplexes began tagging onto malls cross-country. It was Lucas who converted the idea of the 70's blockbuster to mythic from pagan (Spielberg’s Jaws), and rode the wave with intentionally younger and younger audiences. The embodiment, Luke Skywalker, eyes wild with explorer’s mania, seemed pretty-boy thrilled to conquer the Death Star(s). Each pyrotech climax triggered riots of applause. His dad, in his prequel films, gives off a different vibe. Somber. Most adults left the multiplex shaking their heads either in disbelief or in disappointment. For the uninitiated, the films emit a scent of new carpeting; they’re shot in a green screen void leaving the backgrounds to the multi-hundreds of digital modelers and compositers at ILM and the results can be unnervingly perfect. Just go look at battered Threepio as he cons his way through the Death Star in Episode IV, the edge seemed to be missing.  Despite the adult revulsion, the films have filled theaters for the bulk of the summers they’re released, sitting pretty on the all time box office inhalation charts. What's the disconnect between review and result? If you’re convinced something must be going right in the business plan for the PT,  reread Lucas’ quote above. He knows he's built something unusual that an audience can't quite read completely. Strangely confident for films that have been openly ridiculed by adults sitting in his audiences, Lucas even mediates about his actors: “poor Hayden, his performance is great. They just don’t like the character” (or in effect, GET the movie). What is he talking about?

    Blockbuster filmmakers are notorious outsiders to pantheonic art, they appear to be technicians or savvy exploders of mayhem, and Lucas is no exception. He glides under the radar of film-criticism, pretending he’s making candy when the films are really offering 80 course meals. His one ‘art’ film, THX-1138, has been screened repeatedly in global cinecenters, but the Star Wars films, burgeoning with buried treasures for analysis, are left to the mass audience. They’re lowbrow enough to be below the threshold of an adult’s acceptable threshold of artistry. While there have been several biographies of Lucas, there has never been a careful assessment of Lucas’ film manner. He defies it ably, having, like Kubrick, directed in distinctly different genres. A shifting target, he's contorted his films with individual thesauruses, editing rhythms (he co-edited THX-1138, complexly woven from both security camera and film sources), tenses (past, present, future), and even photographic qualities. Taking Lucas on his clock declaration above and looking beyond the perceived flaws in I & II (is the acting manner intentional, is there really a reason they all sound so bored?) a more than cursory, less than total inspection reveals some unusual filmmaking strategies: intentionally dense storytelling that seems to hide an actual plot, paradoxical behaviors from perceived heroes, visuals that echo between imagery both to come and in the film's past. This creates new (for most blockbusters) unseen tensions: colors at war (even differentials between lush color and basic black and white), action vs. inaction, awareness vs. asleep, male vs, female, a symposium of shapes and layers of shapes in a manner of battle for domination, mirrored characters, duplicated characters, mirrored groups, even character behavior patterns all emerge as subtle brushstrokes inside what appears as directorial clumsiness, are these the products of containment or explosion?  Is this the opposite to Kubrick’s austerity but similar to his battleplan in symbolic delivery of film-based philosophic dialogue constructed through visuals?


    The digital effects have changed generational rules. Gone are the constrictions of still frames to employ matte paintings, or the limits of motion-control, or the shrinkage of perspectives with miniatures. Now he has digital rendering and optics, enabling Lucas to ignite his special effects with visions beyond physical lenses, no longer is filmmaking restricted by what light can make way through a glass lens.  In this new age, painterly optics (ideas beyond the physical camera) are now accessible to directors employing computers. Watching the asteroid chase in Attack of the Clones on an IMAX screen and you will see a depth of field, sense of movement and width of scope never before witnessed in optically analogue cinema. And Lucas steals avidly to amp his lush vistas. His are next-gen space arias and epic wars descending from the eyes of Cole, Church, Ingres, Delacroix, Goya, This pressing of rival, descendant styles in two hour running times mean the ability to explore painterly optical tricks is tantamount to a kind of subliminal, visual DJ-ing, the evolutionary move past 'mash-ups,' not necessarily juxtapositional, but something wilder, a comparative progression, a form of language not necessarily different from the ones linguists discuss (from Sapir through Jackendoff), that adds up via visuals.

    These two Trilogies are strange explorations of paths in human cognizance, as metaphors for our experiences on Earth, Star Wars engages in many reflective ideas of humanity that exist here, from class through power structures and their actors: slaves and emperors. They are also companion pieces to the Matrix films (which itself practically borrows a Matrix-like ‘prequel’ from Lucas in THX-1138, even the ethnic-war issue is unusually developed).  Like any myth, the story both underlines and hides intentions. Buried (not so deeply) under both trilogies’ specific moods and flashy surreal ambience (aimed for communing with youngest minds) are complex masterpieces of symbolic imagery and behavior.  This may be difficult to follow but try.  Lucas’ real goals are to unmask humans, to reveal the unconscious manner with which we spread control over each other by illustrating through fantasy the most expansionist power grab by humans over the galaxy (the Republic’s conversion to fascist state). Self-discovery to comprehend the total is available to both audience and character, but rarely either takes notice. One of Lucas’s many goals are to illustrate a symbolic structure to dualism, instigated primarilty by the plot's construction (whose point-of-view we take is subjective at many times).  Star Wars is populated with ‘heroes’ that cannot even 'see' their enemy much less themselves, their behavior, their entitlement, even as members of a religious sect that practices an advanced version of Buddhism, they remain somewhat blind, unaware of their inherent paradox.  Lucas, having immersed himself in mythos, is an adroit strategist of symbols, able to circulate conflict between characters unaware of their role in the story’s vast flowchart.  A Disney without a fear/awe of religion, Lucas wisely weaves paganism/religion and the spawn of warfare, slavery, into the mythology of Star Wars. While Disney kept his paganism mysterious, ethereal, milking evil as a separate, inhuman unknown, dissolved too easily by daybreak, Lucas is much more realistic. His evil breathes, and its even embodied by a temporary vessel: Anakin, allowing the audience to conclude (unconsciously) that we are all dual, two people in one awaiting indoctrination. Forever swaying until we truly comprehend love. Or death.

    To examine the straight line, just peer into Lucas’ films and see they are, at their cores, rich illustrations of societies. Behavior modes, accepted props, uses of speed, love are conditions in this societal balance. Lucas doesn’t simply plot, he creates a world around a story.

    Lucas began making movies in the future. THX-1138 (set in 2187) is an economically unsugared love story, a terse, manic, linear, connect-the-shot collage of glances, screens, noises, voices, POVs, narrated by a voiceover of a chorus of computer voices. His main characters evade a living death by loving. The populous is drugged and white skinned within a nearly monochromatic underground city-state. Blacks are holograms and void citizens that provide entertainment for release and are self described ‘cybernetic’ (in 1972 this word is peculiarly visionary, a hint at future studies of A.I. merged with ethnic war).  This dystopia even employs a phonebooth confessional posing as God, the devolution of HAL: The merging of religion, psychology and mind control is a ‘voice’ of reception; a prompting, elliptically concerned male voice obviously emitting from a central computer menu, it replies “can you be more - specific?” when stumped by human irrationality. An escape from this nightmare is required by any hero. Crucially, great height and high-speed, values essential to the Lucas language, are optically blended by a right angle, a low-cost special effect.  THX escapes first by driving madly through tunnels and then climbing what appears to be a massively deep shaft (the right angle shift makes it deep: the shaft was filmed in the unopened Bart Subway tunnels, the climbing is a physical acting sleight of hand). Later witness depth and speed values endlessly duplicated in the Star Wars Trilogies (and the role it later plays as a value: watch Obi-Wan glance for a second at the shaft around the Tractor Beam control, this momentary pause for a character of great confidence gives the effect its power).  THX was mostly panned.  Its palette rarely moved beyond white, green and atomic yellow with occasional forays into darkness.  The ending is a perfect sentence ending period: the sun setting, the protagonist having fought his way to the earth’s surface, stares at his new source of life. 

    His second film, American Graffiti, begins in the glow of the setting sun that ended THX.  Teenagers on the verge of adulthood are all challenged to make their first decisions with consequences over an entire evening (and Lucas allows them corollary mayhem both onscreen and post credits).  Lucas is warning how good this paradise is, and how temporary it will seem from any point in the future (Graffiti is set in 1962 written from his 1973 vantage, if you search for other films with such a short distance between vintage and sentiment, you can see how difficult the social subtleties are to achieve). His characters choose to convert the night into an adventure to play autocratically with desire, love, fate, law, responsibility, value, and ultimately: speed. The film ends with a drag race and the summary, now copied/parodied coda, shows a plane taking off into the blue of dawn, the engine’s hum drowning out all noise as the characters face a future much less wonderful than the night that just ended.  The main character Curt, one of four characters closest to Lucas’ self, speeds to college (achieving a speed the fastest character, drag racer Milner, can never hope to reach earthbound, Lucas subtly shows the plane's POV overtaking Suzanne Somers's mythic white T-Bird, get the joke? Curt's the one in the real T-Bird).

    Star Wars: A New Hope continues Curt’s flight and begins above a planet. It introduces the audience to a story about good and evil, introduced through black and white (the Blockade Runner’s corridor, the Stormtroopers, Leia, Vader) and then evolves our relationship with this obviously flawed simplicity.  Luke’s consciousness of good and evil stems entirely from his discovery of who is father actually is (two personas, one body). Unlike this basic point in the civil war, when good has a chance to defeat evil (temporarily), the later and earlier films on the timeline eschew this black and white mentality and weave wars in full color, where these values are more complexly hidden. There are heroes on both sides, evil is everywhere is the key sentence.

    Star Wars is an allegorical title, taken literally it refers to an ideal of war, the ultimate weapon itself a Death Star, which rains doom on any solar system. It is the opposite of a sun, a dual counterpart, its inversion, cold, dark, contained, focused. This war it seems is the creation of only one of the galaxy’s citizens: Humans, even though it is fought with and among other sentient beings, humans seem to be both instigator (Emperor: Palpatine/Sidious) and victorious soldiers (Clones). Language is used by Lucas to creatively illustrate allegiance to the ‘human’ way, just listen to who has learned English and why. The Trade Federationists speak English even among themselves, ie: they are slaves of humans, all of Star Wars’ plots seems to emanate from one system, Coruscant, a planet that is one vast city (a geo cyborg-Death Star prototype), all orchestrated around a gigantic Congress of the Republic (modeled on the Mothership from Close Encounters, a kind of frozen, stillborn Death Star trying to reach into space).  It appears humans rule this planet, its political tool, its enforcement arm (the Jedi), and now rule the galaxy by selling the other systems democracy (and its language-tool, English), which in turn rules mobility, value, taxes, law etc. A metaphor that follows from here on Earth. The assurance of law is under the thumb of the Jedi, a brown-clad priest-like group that are dominated by humans and populated multi-specie and apparently are the guardians of 'peace.' In a colorful world, brown is a middle value between white and black. Study the movement of symbolic objects throughout the PT and you'll notice a centerline: the Trade Federation control ship (pictured below), Coruscant, The Congress and a few other large-scale spheres all emerge as sources of the penultimate image in Revenge of the Sith: an underway Death Star, lorded over by a person whose undergone his own symbolic transformation, Anakin (into Vader).  It would be pointless to lead the analysis with the first released film, Star Wars IV: A New Hope (though this link guides you to one and it details the meanings and origins of Star Wars), since once completed the trilogies will be logically viewed in numbered sequence.  It is important to remember that you have forgotten most of the details you are about to read.  Although this is a linear analysis, there is copious overlapping and jumping, the film is made of multiple planes specifically in terms of its symbolic forms.

     

    Above, the fleeing Blockade Runner opening of Episode IV (1977) is inverted as Phantom Menace opens with a too-similar ship approaching a blockade. Lucas spends considerable time mirroring and contrasting his trilogies as if they are eerily both the same and opposites. A continuous hidden visual marvel that tells its own story while reflecting another. To look further: the Republic's Jedi face a screen the same ratio as ours, and like us, they are its audience. Rectangular. The ship and the forms behind the Trade Federationists are curved, a 'first-stage' to the Death Star. A sphere with a ring means many of these ring a planet for its control through blockade.

    To Be Continued (this link will become active when part two is published).

    return to the mstrmnd (b)log

    a sequence of greatest hits from the log

     

  • 312312.0904

    Kubrick, one of the key innovators of film language (or if isn't a true language yet, then film grammar), isolated some 140 frame blow-ups from his film Full Metal Jacket for publication, like a composer highlighting key moments, revealing critical framings.

    He stages death in several modes. He slows down both Cowboy's and Hartmann's death. Hartmann, who does a mean impersonation of John Wayne throughout his gig, is himself impersonated later in death by his student, Cowboy, a Texan (who invokes his proper idea of warfare when he disbelieves the lack of horses in-country). Impersonation is a tool the film uses acutely. By having Joker introduce himself as the impersonator of Hartmann, a shout out to John Wayne, he identifies Hartmann's archetype fluidly. Even a child unaware of the name comprehends both tool and label. As the film enters its final sequence, the marines are bivouac'd in front of volumes of ruins where they are interviewed by on-screen documentary cameras.  As the interviews continue, Kubrick replaces it with the camera he's shooting the film with and lets the mic remain, the actors stare directly into the lens, breaking the fourth wall bluntly. He then cuts to a framing of another grunt framed directly in front of a movie theater, where the John Wayne film Red River is advertised, slyly referencing Vietnam's largest river and the river of blood he punctuates The Shining with. "Well he took it [the land] away from someone, the indians, and i'm taking it away from him" proclaims Tom Dunson, Wayne's character in the film, who struggles to move his herd across Texas. Red River is an expansionist's tale of cowboys and indians, it floods FMJ with nearly subliminal archetype-casting, and its appearance during the interview sequence pivots a darkened doorway to a theater as the visual centerpoint of the frame between a lens hood and a Presidential imitator. The venue itself topped by a framed hero evading a knife wielding indian, jumping above bulls herded by horses. Kubrick covers the film in Texan references in parallel to Vietnam. Although that now mythic colonial/indigenous conflict passed through The Shining through metaphysical warfare, here archetypes emerge entirely physically into living enemies. The VC transform into indians within the grunt's unconscious (and the audience's).  In timely expression he has the grunt imitate LBJ, and there you see the subtle link Kubrick is making, from filmic archetype Hartmann to Joker to John Wayne crossing into 'reality' with LBJ, another Texan (like the two snipers casually referenced earlier).  Joker's punchline is visually haunted by the interviews' final ghost, an indian that appears to be creeping over his shoulder from the shadows (reappearing later in other darknesses as the sniper). In contrast Kubrick aims sunlight onto the marquee's character cut-outs. Later the men will sit in a row of theater seats, aimed away from the venue, their movie isn't onscreen, it's here, now with the ARVN providing hookers.

    By fluidly 'moving' our eyelines and backgrounds, he's made a type of reflection between us and the movie theater up there, on screen.  He then merges the documentary interview manner with the grunts talking to their dead. By cutting from documentary to death ritual and back, he's merging the audience's view through two seemingly opposing genres. In terms of ritual, he stages two involving death and makes camera movement instructive, in one, he reverse tracks at ground level, across a massive rectangular pit, where bodies covered in lime seem to reflect a light whiter than the sky's source, a dulled gray. They shine light.  In the other he leaves them in the shadows, only allowing the sunlight to meet the dead's hands. He whip pans across the grunts who stare down, stopping to let them reflect, one by one, directly into camera. Kubrick rigorously draws us into the frame not to witness death, but become it. The Bhagavad Gita scripture made into a motion experience-test, a conversion of a key human paradox into visuals, donned as a text written onto Animal Mother's head (you can see it in part 1 of this series). This is Kubrick's optical masterstroke: The west comes or returns east after the wild-west's indian archetype has been slaughtered and converted to the projected realms of myth.  As he pans and freezes to catch dialogue, he travels through a variety of light qualities (first images below), in a way a movement between the two corpses: the ghastly, blood-soaked ghoul corpse on the left, Handjob, and the still seemingly alive Touchdown. The strip of frames show only Animal Mother lit by sun (third image from left). He's the only one who 'understands' the film. His helmet says it, but he doesn't know it's the key. He just acts accordingly and by becoming death he avoids it. The others are walking corpses, sooner or later they'll drop.

    The meeting: as a final merging, he blends death rituals (standing above the dead) and death scenes (slow motion) into the sniper girl's death, whose Eurasian features indicate she too is a hybrid, a blending genetically of east and west (no doubt meant to suggest she's the product of the earlier colonial war, the French-Indochina war that preceded the U.S. involvement). As a metaphor for a colonial conflict, the sniper and her death advance into visual allegory as optical techniques converge.

     

    Joker's over the shoulder native warrior.

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    A post industrial-revolution myth, Tolkien's Middle Earth tales are a heavily retrograding lens with which to view his contemporary Great War and its long history looking east (though Tolkien steadfastly denied parallels, as a Lieutenant from the upper-classes he was witness to the horrors of World War I: the wholesale slaughter of his junior warriors). The Lord of the Rings IS a sentimentally hopeful tale of a unified continent. At its core is ethnic warfare that descends from the snowy north that fears the approaching others. A language geek-scholar, J.R.R. retrofitted his long-standing Ottoman enemies into the synthetically simplified lightness/darkness conflict that climaxed in Return of the King. He projects it all into an Iron-age phantasy and amps phenomena into magic. Gone is the Kaiser, the Ducs of France, the Stuarts: he's merged them efficiently along euro-archetypes of nationality into a good side grouping, Elves, Hobbits, "Men" (the middle sized of middle earth), and Dwarves all join the battle. Tolkien seems to be egging on his continental partners, the fight's not here, gentlemen, we are facing a faceless form. An eastern death. Unite against or join their storm. Typed on the U.K.s central island mid-century, the new millenia found us rapt with the film versions of these tales; the Jackson trilogy is the millenium's first billionaire film show, and weirdly, these versions emanate from a vassal of the U.K. found in the east, an island, where they were directed by a man no eastern mythologies have penetrated (as of yet). Jackson's New Zealanded Middle Earth is a direct mapping of English aura, an advancement of Disney's style of grafting, exploded powerfully into WETA's digital construction. These are unusual films in that they eschew paradoxes central to a majority of blockbuster myths. They're played with straight faces and British accents not seen projected this loudly since Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, and as colonial terraforming goes, the WETA Middle-Earth is like a vassal state of N.Z.s, a digital-island underground no doubt millions would travel to see if built physically one day. The most northern form of myth, the LotR are tales POV'd from pre-Christian tree worshippers, fearful pagans that fretted first about Romans and then about Khans. Depending on how you look at it, LotR is a backwards signal now growing backwards: from the north'west' island of England to the south'east' island of New Zealand. But this debate is not about source, it's about meaning. What makes LotR a reckless tool? Its depiction of an evil of eastern origin, showing us the great lengths one must travel to destroy it or face the eventual wasteland (sound familiar?). Myths that grow cosmological widsom are not about destroying a separate, distant evil, they are integrally about evil eventually revealed as a self-value, a father (Vader) or a digital mirror (Agent Smith) or a self. It appears distant but it is you. When we spot evil in LotR it's Jackson's most abstracted moments, the eye is shown miles away. It's inhuman as it remains animate, thinking. Fear without personality.

    Is that now our definition of evil, if a myth alienates the nature of evil, is that evil?

    The smart move was Guillermo del Toro's, avoid the evil. Below is excerpted from Ian Malcolm:

    "Even as a young schoolboy, I couldn't help noticing the uncanny resemblance between the siege of Minas Tirith in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the siege of Constantinople. On one side, the beautiful walled city with its ancient nobility and the few adventurers who had come to help in its defence; on the other, evil teeming hordes under a despotic ruler. You had only to look at the map in the end-papers, where the land of Mordor loomed to the east like Asia Minor, to get the point.

    Tolkien even chose the name "Uruk-Hai" for some of his nastiest creations, fighting forces of Sauron who were a cross between orcs and goblins. This was surely borrowed from the "Yuruk", nomadic tribesmen used as auxiliary soldiers by the Ottomans. Few readers would have known that; but most would have got a whiff of something Asiatic here. For one thing Tolkien was outstandingly good at was tapping into the subconscious of our own, European, cultural history."

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