Monday, September 30, 2013

The Day The Earth Stood Still

The film begins with a spaceship being tracked down on some sort of radar-like machine.  The ship lands and appears seamless until a door way opens up with a ramp.  Out comes a robot (Gort) and a figure (Klattu).  They have army tanks and men with guns waiting for the alien figure to do something, he whips out a spikey thing and one gunman shoots him in the arm.  Everyone sympathizes with Klattu once he appears to have human emotions and fragility.  He is taken to a hospital to recover, which he does remarkably and freaks everyone out with his age.  Klattu's whole purpose of being there is to warn them before their planet is destroyed!  Other life forms know that Earth has been messing with nuclear power and have been thinking about shooting some into space, therefore the other planets would be forced to destroy Earth before this can happen.  Unless Klattu can warn them and they do what he says, their planet will be destroyed.  Klattu is trying to meet every representative of every culture/country to convince them of this threat, but people are too focused on personal fights and wars to think of the Earth as being a united force.  Klattu takes refuge as a boarder in a house filled with people, some of which are a pretty lady (Helen) and her unsuspecting son (Bobby).  Klattu needs to learn more about humans on Earth so he can figure out how to get them to believe him, so he is undercover from the cops and hospital.  The little boy turns out to be a great teacher because he is so naive and young.  Klattu learns about Professor Barnhardt who is supposed to be the smartest person in all of the world according to the little boy, Bobby.  They happen to break into the Professors house and figure out this long confusing equation.  Of course the Professor is amazed by Klattu and has just happened to be organizing a meeting with some of the smartest people from all over the world and its happening really soon too!  Klattu is one lucky guy I'd say.  So the plan is for Klattu to talk to all of those people and they will believe him and save the world from killing itself.  But in order for everyone on Earth to believe him he has to do something amazing, so he basically makes the world stand still by shutting off all machines and time as people knew it.  Which of course freaks people out but its clear yet if everyone is convinced or just plain revengeful.  Plans never go as planned though so this story is not much different than other disaster stories/films.  Bobby follows Klattu to the spaceship and sees Gort smash some army guys and Klattu get into the ship.  Bobby runs home to tell his mother and her lame boyfriend, they don't really believe him until they piece it all together and the lame boyfriend sells out to the police about Klattu.  Klattu is in the run when he gets shot by a cop!  Helen, the pretty mother, escapes to Gort so she can tell him a message that will save Klattu.  She succeeds and Gort comes to the rescue, getting Klattu back and recovering him from death with the fancy alien magic machine.  Klattu realizes Earth is too stupid so he is going to tell them that in fact the robots are the ones in charge and they are the ones who will destroy their planet so their future is up to them.  He steps back into his spaceship and departs back to some far away land.  

This film probably had the best special effects of all the movies we have seen up to this date.  The robot with laser eyes that melted tanks and the seamless spaceship were all pretty well done.  The actors were good too, they were all pretty silly and likable.  The reading about this film described it as liberal, which stuck with me the whole time during the screening.  Afterwards I could definitely see how liberal could fit into the list of descriptions for The Day The Earth Stood Still.  Sontag's article's scenario types could also be found throughout this movie, two examples could be the Einstein looking professor and the call for other countries to intervene.    

Monday, September 23, 2013

Invasion of The Body Snatchers

Invasion of The Body Snatchers is quite a horrific title to a movie made in the 1950's.  People were just about obsessed with the idea of something taking over their lives and controlling their every minds to all be alike, what everyone thought of Communism.  Also people were obsessed with anything that was fantastical, but horrifying, like aliens.  Some people are still obsessed with ideas of aliens living among us in some form, this particular movie has a concept that some people believe in currently, the idea of pods producing clone-like copies but controlling their minds.  Possibly an idea ripped off from Metropolis by the way the robot stole Maria's identity but had a mind controlled by Rotwang.     

In the film it starts with Dr. Miles acting crazy and yelling as some officials arrive to see him.  They ask what has happened and the film does a fuzzy thing and we are in a flash back.  Back to when Miles just returned to his town to find that some of his patients had reported not feeling well but then cancelled their appointments later admitting that they had felt much better than before.  Miles didn't really think too much of it but the people who were living among these people sure saw a change.  They reported that their relatives were impostors, even though they seemed like the real person and had the same memories.  Eventually more and more people were claiming that their friends and family were impostors and then would all of sudden not think that anymore and were happy as can be.  At one point one of Miles's friends finds a body that looks just like him only much more fresh, like it had not lived a day in the world yet.  Convinced something is going on Miles leaves his friend,Jack, and his lady friend, Teddy, to watch over this "body".  Which of course comes alive and they run for their lives leaving the body to roam as it pleases.  Miles flips out because he left his girlfriend, Becky, at her house and so he breaks into her house and sees a body just like hers stowed away in the basement.  Eventually the police get into it but they just make a fool out of Miles and Jack.  Miles, Becky, Teddy, and Jack all find these pods in a green room looking thing and discover that the pods is where the doubles come from, as these pods broke open the bodies of Jack, Teddy, Becky, and Miles are all inside.  Miles and Becky are there after Miles tells Jack and Teddy they must run for it, Becky hangs out by the phone and Miles tries to murder the alien pod bodies.  There is a lot of running around after this and everyone in the town just about is a pod alien now.  They chase Miles and Becky up a huge stair case and down some hills and all over the place but Miles and Becky hide under two pieces of wood so that all of the men in the town chasing them can't see them.  Miles tells Becky to wait there and he runs away somewhere only to come back and find Becky all drowsy and sleepy.  (When you sleep the pod people take over)  He tries to wake her up and he kisses her and then realizes its too late she is a pod person.  Mile's gives some crazy look and is about off the deep end by now.  He runs from her and the crazy mob of people to make it to the freeway.  He is trying to warn everyone but they just think he is crazy, which is a pretty good judgement since he is yelling crazy things at people driving by.  He jumps on the back of a farm truck to see the whole back filled with pods!  Eventually he makes it to the police station and something fuzzy happens to the screen and we are back from the flashback.  The officials look at each other like "this dude is crazy!" and start to walk out of the room when a little one liner character comes around and says there has been a crash and the strangest pod things were in the truck.  Oh no it's true, everything Miles was saying!!  They all rush out and it's the end!  

The idea of another force coming in and taking control over someones own body is widely feared today still.  In this movie it was pod aliens, but for us we fear a government take over of our bodies more than anything else in my opinion.  Which this movie also mirrors because the "government" of the town being taken over was also a part of the take over even though it was against their will, they were still among the ones being controlled, and in turn convincing others to be taken over by the pod person doppelganger.  The movie has some good/creepy effects with the pods bursting in the green house, and for a second they showed Miles stabbing one of them with the pitch fork, which is pretty gory for what we have seen so far in the films viewed from this time period. 


Gojira went along perfect with the films that we were watching just before this.  It had such a direct connection with the fear of nuclear weapon's and their impact on the world and it's people.  It also went along with the things mentioned in Sontag's article.  There was the old professor, the hero with his beautiful lady friend who never die, the doctor who is mysterious, the whole movie was jam packed with what Sontag was writing about really.  

The film starts off with weird explosions and sinking of ships off the coast of Odo Island.  The people on the island all start to blame Gojira, the old atomic monster legend, especially after the monster comes to shore one night and destroys some building and kills some locals.  People from other parts of Japan, and eventually the world, come to investigate, among them is the old professor and his cute daughter who is lovers with Ogata the navy man, but is also lovers with Dr. Serizawa.  Shes two timing these two men and somehow I think they know but don't really care too much.  Anyhow, the professor discovers an extinct animal in the foot print of Gojira, implying that the monster could be an extinct creature coming from the depths of the ocean, which in fact is true.  The monster is confirmed by other officials once a bit more evidence is found, such as this big monster destroying cities and villages.  The old professor wants to use Gojira for research, because when was the last time they had a real live monster around?  Never!  The rest of the terrorized people don't really see it that way so they all want to destroy Gojira.  Dr. Serizawa has a weapon that could destroy the whole sea, he claims.  Much like the claims of the death star destroying a whole planet, or the mass destruction an atom bomb can do.  Dr. Serizawa only tells Emiko, who then in turn tells Ogata.  Once Ogata finds out about the oxygen destroyer he is compelled to speak to Dr. Serizawa and convince him to use it against Gojira because no other weapons will stop him.  Gojira just seems to absorb anything they try to throw at him, the nuclear weapons would only make him stronger.  Dr. Serizawa is pretty reluctant to use it in fear of it getting into the wrong hands.  Once Serizawa is convinced his weapon is their only hope he is set that he shall be the one to kill the monter, but Ogata insists on going with him to help since Serizawa knows nothing about diving.  So they both dive down into the ocean and set the oxygen destroyer, Ogata gets pulled up and Serizawa cuts himself loose and is oxygen destroyed along with Gojira, like a captain going down with his ship.  And Japan/the world is safe again.  

Gojira was really entertaining to say the least, the special effects were pretty hilarious at times but the imagination and amount of work that went into it is great and smart.  I thought of these actors to be better actors when comparing them to the actors in such movies as Things To Come.  Maybe it was just the context of the film but they just seemed like a better set of actors, and Emiko's character was fun to think about.  She was caught in a man forest, she had a father, and two lovers and there were no really any other significant women characters.  She was smart and trusted though so it made her character a little more independent.  I want to see the newest version of this film to see what major changes have been made.  Its interesting to know that different versions were made for different countries in mind.  I wonder how much of that could still be found in today's movies...    

Monday, September 16, 2013

Atomic Cafe

Atomic Cafe was a really interesting, depressing film.  It showed clips of the atom bomb and h bombs being tested as well as actually being used against the "enemy".  It also had propaganda footage of special outfits, emergency actions, and bomb shelters.  The most horrifying part of the film was seeing footage of them testing the bombs on pigs and the pictures and footage of victims over seas.  After come of those clips were clips of Americans dancing around and loving life.  For me this is just sick, why would anyone be so happy about thousands of people being killed and injured?!  I know they were all happy about the war being over and such but I feel that a lot of those people had no idea what the atom bomb really was and what it did to everyone in the world basically.  The whole film to me was about propaganda and the lack of knowledge the people had about the atom and h bombs they were making, testing, and deploying.  The power of words of the government and politicians was disgusting, the people just ate it up, spending all their time and money on bomb shelters and things to put in them.  

Things To Come

Things To Come was a pretty intense film, it was like riding a strange roller coaster of power/science/technology struggle.  Entertaining for multiple reasons one of those being the way the actors delivered their lines.  I noticed they were really loud, they were loud talking at each other and putting emphasis on certain words.  

It started out in Everytown (clever, maybe?) as being this real nice stereotypical American town with people all running about buying things for Christmas.  There are other people with signs and flyers all saying things like WAR IS UPON US!  The main group of people are all cozy in their homes listening to radio and talking about whether or not war is going to happen when all of a sudden, war happens.  Everything is destroyed and the special effects were pretty good for this time period.  Buildings were being blown up and people were being smashed, even a little boy was among the rubble.  The heroic Cabal escapes all of this because he is a pilot and flew out of there to fight in the war.  Everytown is destroyed and so is technology and resources.  They are in the processes of rebuilding life as they know it.  They have a terrible chief that is more focused on drinking and looking fabulous than the lives of the townspeople and their future.  In swoops Cabal on a fancy futuristic plane, who gets put into a cell eventually because new things are too dangerous to the "powerful chief".  However his "lady friend" actually knows that Cabal has some good intentions and that Everytown needs a face lift.  Just like Cabal had warned, his people from the fancy flying area come to Everytown to rescue Cabal and "clean up" Everytown.  The people of Everytown are forced to shoot at the new comers which lands them into some more trouble but really for the better.  The people get gassed and all pass out, except the chief who dies.  The town benefits greatly because they rebuild it into something way better than before, all because of Cabal.  Years go by and the town is mostly underground and technology has increased.  The next journey is to the moon, and who better to go than Cabals decent!  His son's daughter is young and fit, as is old Cabals buddys son's son.  An artist decides he thinks this progress is not good so he riles up the troops of his city with a speech that creates a mass crowd to chase down the young fit pair who are going to circle the moon for all of mankinds progress.  Right at the right moment the space gun shoots out the little bullet space craft into space!  The crowd goes away and the movie ends with Cabal and his friend talking about progress or nothing, this or that!  

The movie's story to me was about the fear of technology and what "progress" is.  Loud talking put aside the movies special effects were probably the best part of the whole film.  The plot was a little too roller coastery for me and long.  The outfits were also a really fun part of the movie, functionality must have just been thrown out the window.  

Monday, September 9, 2013


Frankenstein is one movie that could have benefited if more attention was directed towards character building.  I knew a lot about the characters in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein because she gave so much detail to character building.  The movie however dives right into things with not a lot of background information.  Also there is no set building in the movie either, you know that there is a town and a country/mountainous area around the town, but geographically never discussed.  Which does not seem super important but when it comes to the town celebrating and gathering to riot after the monster it is not really clear at what time period the townspeople live in.  There is a university with men and women in the science classes in suit like attire and then there are the townspeople in what looks like maybe traditional Swedish outfits.  There is just some disconnect between scenes that bothers me a bit and makes the film lose some credibility.

The movie starts out with Frankenstein and Fritz creeping on someone's funeral, as if that isn't enough they go and dig up the body after its been buried.  Its clear Frankenstein has no sense of respect for the dead and treats these bodies as found treasures in a way.  With almost all of the body parts needed in his possession he must find a brain, he sends Fritz to fetch one from Frankenstein's old professor's lab.  Fritz of course is a cluts and drops the normal brain and then grabs the abnormal brain instead.  Frankenstein has a girlfriend, Elizabeth, and a best friend, Victor, and they both are worried about Frankenstein after Elizabeth gets a letter from him.  So they set out to go see him, along with the old professor, to their surprise Frankenstein is completing his experiments that very night!  They all watch as the monster becomes alive.  Frankenstein thinks he is brilliant until he learns he has put an abnormal brain in the monster, why he didn't look at the jar the brain came in I have no idea.  They hear screaming and it's Fritz getting attacked by the monster because Fritz is a jerk and has been picking on the monster.  Frankenstein and the professor decide to kill the monster which ultimately results in the death of the professor by the hands of the monster after the rest leave for town because Frankenstein "falls ill", guess you need more than one syringe to kill a monster.  The monster is free and stumbles upon a little girl, who for some reason is not afraid of the walking corpse, and he throws her in the pond.  News gets out the monster lives and is terrorizing people so all the men start raging with torches, also they all change into their suits to go kill him.  Elizabeth is locked in a room and the monster breaks a window to come in a scare her then escapes to the mountainous country side.  They find Frankenstein fighting the monster on top of a mill and burn it down after the monster tosses Frankenstein over the edge, which somehow he survives without breaking all of his bones.  The movie ends with Frankenstein's father joking about drinking wine with the helper ladies.    

In the end I was basically left amused by the whole movie.  I really enjoyed Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I know that would make an awesome movie if details are paid attention to.  The monster in this film has no personality, he is this poor character that grunts and screams but shows that he is capable of more when he is with that little girl.  It bugged me that the film tries to show the monster as being just that, a monster.  While trying to portray Frankenstein as this helpless man devoted to his studies and when he does finally own up to the disaster that has happened nobody is even mad at him, they are all pissed at the monster.  It was the towns peoples ignorance that destroyed the monster, starting with Frankenstein allowing Fritz to bully him and keeping the monster in a dungeon.  Frankenstein said in the film referencing the abnormal brain, that it was just a piece of dead tissue, to me that meant that it could be molded into something new if given that opportunity.  The sets and special effects of this movie were nothing as good as Metropolis, possible the given budget, but the scene when Frankenstein gets tossed from the mill appears really horrify but somehow he lived without any bloodshed even.  A lot of elements adding up just puts this films believability in check for me.  The potential is there it is just not taken out.   

Metropolis Restored

Metropolis Restored is a very interesting film in regards to where it was made (Germany), when (1927), and that it has been found after thought to be destroyed for years and restored for present day viewers to learn from.  I was required to watch the film a few years ago for Core Humanities 202, knowing that it was a silent film the first half I watched in complete silence, I had never watched a silent film before and being ignorant in that sense I didn't even expect there to be music.  Once I realized this, I had to re watch it with the sound up.  The music is there to add emphasis to scenes and characters, without the music, it made the characters and scenes harder to understand.  Sound aside, the character presentation is very important, all of the workers are wearing dark dirty clothes that don't seem to fit them very well, while the city people all wear different clothes most being of lighter color, with the exceptions of suits worn by men and Rotwangs doctorish outfit.  The actors are very dramatic with their acting style as well as with their make up, this all adds to the silent film themes.  Without direct verbal dialogue the actors use their bodies to communicate, something I find very interesting to compare to "hearing" films.  (It also leaves room to make dub overs with your own dialogue.)

The plot of the movie sets the viewer in futuristic Metropolis, a utopian city ran by Joh Frederson, the founder and brains behind the city.  Joh and his son Freder along with the people of Metropolis live carefree lives in the upper portion of the city, with very few people knowing about the workers city below.  Freder is not among the people who know of the workers city or that because there is a worker city their city can function.  Freder is off in the garden chasing girls when he sees Maria with a group of dirty looking children, Maria keeps telling the children "these are your brothers", which humanizes the working class people in the film for Freder.  He had never seen this woman and so of course falls head over heels and chases after her to the workers city, once there he sees the horrors that the workers are forced to live in.  The workers feed the machines with their health basically, (that direct reference is described later on in the film).  Maria's character serves as the female love interest but also as the hope for the workers in the workers city.  She visits them and tells them biblical stories referencing the workers situation and promising that a mediator will come to help them someday.  The workers grow impatient but remain hopeful.  Joh discovers the worker's plans for rising up for their equality and asks Rotwang for advice and help,  however Rotwang does what he wants while making Joh think he is only in it for Joh.  Rotwang knows Freder is in love with Maria and that she plays a vital role with the decisions of the workers, he also knows that Freder is all that Joh has in his life, while Rotwang hates Joh he can ultimately destroy everybody and take the girl from both of them (Freder's mother Hel and Maria, different women in actuality but Maria in the end represents both to Rotwang).  Rotwang creates a machine-man and steals Maria's image for the robot to live inside of in order to control the decisions of the workers uprising.  Evil Maria basically brainwashes the upper level city people with sin after she does her evil seven sin dance for them.  The men start killing each other over their greed for the way sinning makes them feel.  The evil Maria tells the workers to destroy the machines because the city above with not be able to function without the machines, however neither will the workers city because it will be flooded, a little piece of information with held from the workers.  Blinded by their excitement of the uprising the workers flee to the heart machine to destroy it.  Grot is the worker man who is left in charge of the heart machine, he tries to warn all of the workers to stop because their city will be flooded, but those workers are drunk with uprising and hear none of what Grot has to say.  They destroy it, leading to the flooding of their city and near death experiences to all of their kids that were left behind in the events of the uprising.  Freder, real Maria and Freders butler pal rescue all the kids because they know what is going on actually.  There are numerous fighting scenes between Rotwang and Freder as well as Rotwang and Joh and poor Maria is caught in the middle always.  The workers believe their kids are dead and blame evil Maria, which they drag to a stake and set her aflame.  Once she burns down a bit they all see she was a robot and that they were all fooled!  The real Maria is still alive and tells Freder to be the mediator/heart between the head, Joh Frederson, and the hands, the workers.  Freder unites them and all is well.

This film is so jam packed with references and symbols because its a silent film but also because the plot depends on it.  The plot illustrates classism and inequalities found in past as well as in the present.  Without the workers the upper level city does not exist, without a base there is not top.  It represents the impacts of classism in various types.  The way the film was directed and produced really shows what technology was like in the late 1920's.  The sets and characters are all done really well, the special effects, such as the heart machine scene where there are people being flung all over,  were really impressive to me.  The attention paid to details where it is most needed is very important in silent films.  I must say my favorite part of the movie is when evil Maria does her dance for the upper level men at a gathering, the way that she represents all seven sins and takes control over the men is such a powerful scene but is also just plain amusing and iconic.  The picture I chose above is evil Maria in the dancing scene.      

Star Wars: A New Hope

First off, I want to admit that I have not been a giant Star Wars fan in the past, but after watching this film again with a more attentive position I have more respect for it.  However, the version that I viewed was the newest edition of the classic, which had added scenes and various additions to original scenes.  This took away from the original in my perspective, I don't think those additions added to the plot at all, also they were CG that was not done very well so it made them stand out from everything else.  If they would have added portions that were in the same aesthetic of the original then maybe they would not have seemed so distracting.  Additions put aside, the film was pretty amusing to me.  It is very much so a western film in a space theme as the essay provided had stated, good vs. evil, light vs. dark.  The characters attitudes, mannerisms, and aesthetics can be seen as being influenced by the time period the film was made as well.  As speaking of the time period playing a part on how the movie was written and produced, there is a lot of room for the viewer to read in between the lines to create plots that are not blatantly there.  Specific lines said or gestures made leave room for the imagination to make other connections or references of characters or actions.  Reading between the lines is something I do with almost every film I view, especially older films, because it gives me a chance to make the characters more personable.  All of these things do not take away from the plot but they do add amusement, speaking only for myself, and they provide some insight to how acting and movies have changed over the years.

 The story of the film shows the beginning of Luke Skywalker's journey of self discovery as well as the discovery of the force within himself and others and what can be done with the force, good and evil.  Princess Leia is thrown in there because it seems there are only two women in the whole universe, Luke's aunt and Princess Leia.  She also holds a strong role because her character has a strong personality, shows independence and courage, so therefore she is more important to the story rather than just being a pretty face.  She binds together almost all of the main characters, Luke and Han both fancy her, as does the dark side because she has valuable information.  The characters of C3PO and R2 are among the most amusing and important, constantly the human characters are being saved in one way or another by the two droids, for example in the trash compactor scene.  R2 and C3PO also exhibit traits of a human character because they seem to have specific personalities.  The climax of the film is when Luke and Han explode the death star, but Darth Vader escapes to make room for the long line of movies made afterwards, and comes back to the rest of the gang safely to be honored and such.  Good has prevailed over evil for now anyway, as most western themed films seem to end. 

The most important thing in the film is the concept of the force, something that exists in all living things.  This part puts the viewer in Luke's position, it expresses the idea that if manifested in the right way the force can lead to great things.  The force is free and produced naturally so its available to almost anyone, later i have been informed that the force is genetic.  I think that the film was and still is so popular because of the concept of the force, as well as hilarious battle scenes, endless layers of cultures and races of aliens, dynamics of family in a new perspective, and the battle each character faces with good and evil.