Cinema: The Witch, this mythical figure

Art by : https://www.artstation.com/kilart

Mona Chollet, Witches the Undefeated Power of Women.

“If you are a woman and you dare to look inside yourself, then you are a witch.”

The hooked nose, warts, incantations and potions… the witch has always fascinated and the cinema has portrayed her many times. From the cantankerous old queen of Snow White to the brave and valiant Hermione, her representation has evolved a lot in cinema as in history. She has long made children cry and unleashed the fury of men. Put aside, denigrated, burned, feared, it is the object of all fears but also the source of many fantasies.
But doesn’t the fear of the witch come simply from the fear of the feminine, in its power and its marginality?
Because indeed she appears to be strong, independent, single, sometimes old and childless, coming out of traditional beauty and the dictates imposed by patriarchal societies.

In its early days, cinema mainly filmed the witch as the main figure of fear and anguish. A true cliché of a storybook witch, she is then ugly and shown as monstrous: aged, wrinkled, crooked nose, malevolent and above all shown in opposition to the young, pretty and naive first. The classic The Wizard of Oz is the prime example, but Disney’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Sleeping Beauty really didn’t help boost its image.

In the 1960s, the witch was domesticated. She has a husband, a family, is a housewife, seeks love and validation. Her physique changes completely, she becomes cute, well-groomed and dressed, always at the forefront of fashion. Her happiness can only be linked to the well-being of her family and her husband. In short, the patriarchy has done its work! To give examples, Sam in the Bewitched series, Gil in Bell, Book and Candle or Morticia from The Adams Family come to mind.

Today the cinema appears very rich in terms of representations and has ceased to convey a single image. Gone are the old black hats and the broom, today they are sexy, go to school and fight with wizards, are scary, make people laugh, are sometimes evil. They are the fantasy of a whole generation, some dreaming of marrying Emma Watson or better of becoming Emma Watson.

For this article on this blog, I wanted to recommend two films that deal with the figure of the witch. Two styles, two directors and two different visions complementing each other rather well.

Suspiria – Dario Argento (1977)

I won’t go into the questionable and recent version of Luca Guadagnino here, simply because I have a lot of grievances about him despite an interesting treatment of the occult. Indeed he develops an approach centered on the power of magic and women, which differs from the version of Argento rather centered on the monstrous.
The Suspiria of 77 tends towards the fantastic and the giallo, a genre which appeared in Italy between the 60s and 70s and which mixes murder, sexuality, fantasy, thriller, detective film and fantasy. It is mainly recognized for its particular colors, with a strong use of red, blue and yellow. The scenes are often outrageous and baroque, even extremely kitsch. If you want to know more, I refer you to the filmography of Dario Argento but also of Fulci and Mario Bava.

Suspiria is therefore an extremely cult film that any cinephile fan of the genre must have seen. It is the first part of the Three Mothers Trilogy, preceding Inferno and The Third Mother. This trilogy is entirely devoted to the myth of the witch.
Suspiria tells the story of a young dancer making her debut in a German ballet school full of secrets. Given the theme of the chronicle it is not a spoiler to reveal that the founders and teachers engage in black magic. The witch is approached here from the angle of the macabre and the monstrous. They are real fairy tale villains, powerful but diabolical. The young dancers are filmed like children wanting to unravel the mysteries of this school and understand the issues. The school building, with its astonishing architecture reminiscent of art nouveau, is in itself a character in its own right. A veritable castle of stories from our childhood, it is a source of terror but above all of wonder, for the spectator as well as for the young dancers.

Dario Argento uses the baroque and the fantastic to underline the strangeness of the place and the events. He is helped by Goblin and his music which is certainly magnificent but very disturbing. Argento also declares “having tried with Suspiria to mix the world of the tales of Walt Disney and Grimm with the violence of The Exorcist”. For the photography, Luciano Tovoli accentuates the recognizable primary colors of the Giallo and delivers a work worthy of paintings, which accentuates the fantastic and hypnotic aspect of the film. He also draws inspiration from German Expressionist cinema in his use of symbolism.

The Witch – Robert Eggers (2015)

The Witch differs radically from the previous one in its approach as well as in its aesthetics. It comes across as more grounded in reality, colder, and really dwells on the folkloric portrayal of the witch.
The Witch is the directorial debut of horror film prodigy Robert Eggers (The Northman, The Lighthouse) who has been proving his talent ever since. It shows us a Puritan family of the 15th century (and still the word is weak, next to the Le Quesnois family are atheists) driven out of their community and having no other choice but to isolate themselves at the edge of a forest. They will gradually find themselves confronted with strange phenomena and lose their footing.

The strength of The Witch is that it is not a work that is necessarily scary, but a work about fear itself. The fear that will plague an entire family and push them to destroy each other. The real threat is not the prowling witch but the fanaticism of the characters. Fanaticism that will push the characters to return the violence towards the eldest personified by Anya Taylor Joy, a young girl with a strong character, and accuse her of all the evils. Since she is beautiful and desirable, she can only mate with the devil. It is not innocent that The Witch is carried by a strong female character and at the dawn of her entry into adolescence, a pivotal period where the body changes and can appear as monstrous or sexualized. The monstrous feminine is also an important theme in horror cinema, highlighted by what is called the “Coming Of Age”, a subgenre that deals with the passage from childhood to adulthood and the loss of a certain innocence as well as the enhancement of one’s own personality. Like Carrie, Thomasin questions imposed dictates, sees herself sexualized by the appearance of her period and must face the gaze of her bigoted entourage.

The film therefore highlights the witch “marginal woman” wishing to emancipate herself from religion and patriarchy, here very well represented by the character of the father. Rather than strictly condemning acts of witchcraft, Eggers first exposes the disturbing aspects before rejoicing and exalting its power in the conclusion. Black magic appears as the creation of oppression, whether through folklore or extreme religious depictions of family. In order to document himself and provide a faithful historical representation, Robert Eggers has carried out meticulous research using period texts such as Malleus Maleficarum, a reference in the fight against witchcraft.
Image the witch

Mona Chollet.

“The witch embodies the woman freed from all domination, from all limitations, she is an ideal towards which to strive, she shows the way”

Bis Repertita: Bis cinema

I really like cinema in general with a preference for science fiction and fantasy, but I haven’t talked too much about a type of cinema that I particularly like, Bis cinema.

Alright, but what is Bis cinema?

Let’s go back to four names that may come up often in the future if I want to be able to talk about these films:

Genre cinema

The B-series

The Z-series

The exploitation cinema

Genre cinema:

I’ve already talked about it here but to make it short, it’s all action movies, horror, erotic, kung fu… Anything out of the ordinary.

The B-series:

Basically, the B-series refers to the second film that was screened in double sessions in neighborhood cinemas, generally a short-lived genre film, the first film being generally more “normal” or more “classic”. Today, as neighborhood cinemas and double screenings have disappeared, the term B-series is used to designate a genre film shot on a low budget. The main characteristic of these works is to compensate for the lack of means, when they are good, to deploy treasures of ingenuity and an inventiveness which is lacking in a lot of series A. John Carpenter is one of the most famous directors of series B films.

The Z-series:

The Z-series is roughly the same as the B-series, often too ambitious for its means. Often bad, sometimes to the point of becoming funny, some of them can be touched by grace to the point of gradually reaching the status of cult work.

The exploitation cinema:

In exploitation cinema, there is also a question of very low-budget genre films, such as B series, but without any artistic pretension. Their only goal is to be profitable quickly by using what attracts the public the most, violence, sex or both at the same time. This type of film experienced its golden age in the 70s and some exploitation films were so crazy that they themselves created a new cinematographic subgenre which will then be taken up by other exploitation films. more WTF who will in turn create new sub genres etc…
Believe me, there are many, many!

Bis cinema:

Now that we see a little more clearly, let’s move on to my definition. Cinema Bis is therefore:

  • A genre film, series B, series Z or exploitation film with a low budget, popular or not (because there are also non Bis auteur films) which at the time of its release is found despised or ignored by critics, because of the film’s slightly crazy or apart aspect.

What characterizes Bis cinema above all is its inventiveness and its great diversity. What you have to understand is that the Bis is not just one genre, it’s a set of genres.

There is therefore a phenomenal amount of completely lit films from all over the planet, which only look like themselves and some of which still continue to inspire world cinema.

When did the Bis cinema appear?

Historically, it dates from the mid-1950s, at a time when the Hollywood system no longer worked properly and when viewers preferred to stay at home in front of their brand new televisions rather than go and lock themselves in dark rooms.

Faced with the cinemas which were gradually emptying, Hollywood legitimately began to panic and therefore left aside the B series to choose to bet mainly on the great films in color like “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Bridge on the River Kwaï or “Benhur”. The problem with these spectacular films in natural settings being that they are very expensive to produce and for the sake of economy, it was therefore necessary to relocate filming to Europe, mainly to Italy, Great Britain and Spain.

Technicians from the old continent were therefore able to learn from their American counterparts and realize that there was a place in the field of series B and from there, everyone got into it, English, Italian, Germans, Spaniards and even French.

In the rest of the world:

  • However, cinema bis also sees the light of day in the USA with a man from independent cinema named Roger Corman. He alone will build an empire.
  • In Hong Kong, Shaw Brosers films are getting more and more talked about and are starting to cross borders.
  • In Japan, we exorcise via the cinemas the traumas due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • In Mexico, genre cinema is developing more and more, particularly with the figure of El Santo

Conclusion:

In short, it’s a real universe that awaits you and that’s precisely what made me want to create a new series of articles called “Bis repetita” to make you discover or rediscover some of these completely crazy films, which hardly appear on television anymore and which, in my opinion, are much more interesting and inventive than the ¾ of the cinema releases.
It’s a daring cinema, badly brought up and sometimes extreme but which tries things and that’s the main thing.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon!

PS:

Ukraine is a country with its own history, culture and language. As much as any country, it deserves to keep its own identity and sovereignty.

I have not always (very rarely) agreed with the Ukrainian government but I give my full support to the Ukrainian people!

The near future, a distorting mirror

From Andy Cline’s Ready Player One to Judge Dread to Black Mirror and Pacific Rim, near future works are endless.
Close anticipation is not a genre, it is an approach.
Common point of the corpus: the stories must take place in the near future. Something to get excited about and also often fuel the nightmare machine.

What is sience-fiction?

Science fiction is inextricably linked with anticipation. It is about imagining possible developments in science and technology in order to explore possible future possibilities. In their time, the forerunners of Mary Shelley (Frenkenstein), HG WELLS (The Time Machine) and Jules Vernes (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) marveled at the advances of their time to build wonderful philosophical stories. or terrifying. These, among others, invented speculative fiction. Imagining the future, even on the basis of facts and cutting-edge documentation, is still science fiction. SF is written in the conditional, not in the future, and always feeds on the context in which it is born. And too bad if its projections fall short of reality or become obsolete, sometimes in just a few years. Because even when they claim to talk about something else, the works are full of the mindset, values ​​and knowledge of their time, and of their author. It always speaks of the present, and has effects in the present.

The case of near future.

The genres of the imagination, including fantasy and SF, are therefore always situated in relation to the real, and the works of near future undoubtedly hide this even less than the others: their plots are close to their context and time. of creation – and close to us who receive them. For the British writer J.G. Ballard, the near future would be a means of talking about the “true future”, the one that we “see approaching”, as opposed to hypothetical elsewhere, in eras and galaxies far, very distant. On the contrary, from space opera or mythical fantasy, the near future does not open the door to escape, it immediately announces “in not very long” and implies “right here”. Ballard himself was adapted (Crash by David Cronenberg).

In the continuity of Ballard, many works – novels, films, comic series, games – have placed their plots in a futuristic universe, without necessarily exploring a supposed immediate future. Problem: all fiction implies a distancing from reality. Near future works consciously break this convention with the help of a distorting mirror. Everything is familiar and so different.

But why are these works often so terrifying?

Seeing the future negatively, is it for ease? Where has the reassuring cocoon of our daily comfort gone? Do we no longer have the right to dream, to imagine? This is a crucial question. Most of the near-anticipation works outbid the existing, adding a small dose of dark futurism, freewheeling technology, eerie androids, triumphant capitalism, and permanent cops. Just what it takes to smash the glass in our comfort zone. The reassuring daily life becomes deadly, your intelligent vacuum cleaner seeks to kill you, a spaceship is planning its worrying shadow over the city, even it is absolutely necessary to chip or get vaccinated so as not to fall on the cost of law and order. . (get vaccinated guys, this is important)
In the preface to his full short stories, Ballard cautioned against this trend:

“The future […] is a dangerous, heavily mined area that tends to turn around to bite your ankles when you take a step forward. “

Too late the damage is done.
Many works anchored in the near future stage an imperceptible and perpetual shift where each technology, each authoritarian drift, each change in lifestyle or degree of global warming, testifies to the fact that nothing will ever be the same again. Rather than the completely reconfigured worlds of the post-apocalypse, where everything was destroyed and then recast, this is about the cycles of life and death of civilizations. The collapse is not imminent, it is immanent. History is on the move. It happens continuously.
In the fluctuations of a pandemic, the British series Years and Years, or through the words of Chuck in Fight Club:

«This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time”

Paradoxically, it is also this perpetual end of the known world that allows all hopes and allows utopias to flourish, however diffuse they may be. Dark futures fuel the emergence of new horizons, new battles to be waged and new hopes to be nourished. Suddenly utopias exist mainly to legitimize the fights waged against them. In reality, the great battle of imaginations, ideas and values ​​is fought deep inside each of us. The fight is brutal, merciless, it spares none of our received ideas, our intuitions and our usual thinking patterns. And test what we think we know as the disgust, fear or revolt that arises over fiction becomes able to inspire us and spur us to action. For example, the treatment of aliens in District 9 strikes us as despicable, because it inevitably reminds us of the plight of refugees around the world. What is terrifying about this distorting mirror is less the distortion it conjures up than the fact that we recognize ourselves in it.

Fear Street 1994

“Fear Street” is basically a series of books in the line of “Goosebumps” but more adult, at the same time we find the same author: R.L. Stine. “Fear Street 1994”, available on Netflix, is therefore an adaptation of those books, which I haven’t read, so it’s impossible for me to say if the story is a revival or if the screenplay is new.


I was expecting a somewhat crappy Goosebumps movie, but right off the bat you end up in a real slasher with blood staining, which was a pleasant surprise to me.
Of course the film is not free from flaws. Hello, the slightly irritating clichés related to the model he was inspired by. Was it really necessary to incorporate them here?

Otherwise, the feature film is frankly effective in its formula. We are clearly dealing with a tribute to the Slasher of the 90’s with “Scream”, “The Faculties” and “Friday” 13 (we have a Jason right now), all placed in 1994. No, but don’t lie to us, a slasher Nowadays, in the age of smartphones it’s still damn ridiculous …

It’s more of a pretty picture, the pace is steady, which gets carried away to never let go, until the last seconds and the supernatural aspect adds a little originality to the whole.
The characters are well put together, quite quickly by the way. Even if some have ultra cliché or stereotypical writing (which is a shame) this bunch of young people are doing admirably well.

Well… Not her!

Too bad the plot is simplified enough from the 1st part, and we discover the how and why even faster. That said, there will be other surprises that will come when we least expect them (except those who know the codes of any good Slasher by heart) and especially the set can be much more interesting than expected.

The ending made me want to see what happened next. Indeed, “Fear Street 1994” the first part of a trilogy including “Fear Street 1978” which will be released on July 9 and “Fear Street 1666” on the 16th. I like the idea of ​​going back in time to the origins of evil. a lot. The mood should be really different. Hopefully, they will manage to keep artistic consistency and at least the same level of qualities.

In short, for me, it was a nice surprise. Failing not to renew the genre, this 1st part pays it a nice tribute (like the 1st Season of Stranger Things). Not to mention a 90’s soundtrack which makes me very happy (there is Iron Maiden, from there I was already conquered). For lovers of the genre, I think you will be in for a treat.

It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a nice movie to pass the time, alone or with friends.

Mortal Komnat 2021

After a quick spicy bolognese sauce, I embark on this long awaited Mortal Kombat new version and without, I reassure you, a cameo of the unbearable Christophe Lambert. Too busy looking for a role in a Tintin in Congo on the stage.


Between fatalities and action scenes as edgy as they are boosted, the Mortal Kombat reboot has rather convinced a bloodthirsty press. Since its first announcements, and especially its trailer and these famous first 7 minutes, the reboot of Mortal Kombat has given us a glimpse of the best and especially to hope for a faithful adaptation very trashouille. After all, director Simon McQuoid had promised an adaptation of video games true to its regressive aspect, offering the viewer what previous versions could never come close to, namely the famous ultra-graphic kills of the franchise: fatalities. But beyond making a gory uninhibited proposal, the filmmaker has visibly taken his subject seriously, displaying a note of noble intention. With its cast of true martial artists, reduced use of CGIs, and fluid, airy staging, Mortal Kombat looks like it taps into some edgy Asian action cinema, which we don’t mind. . The fatalities are as foul as you could hope … but it’s really the fight scenes that stand out from the rest. The amount of work that is directed in the choreographies and stunts is more than impressive. You can see that a bunch of martial artists are really doing these fights on screen, rather than dealing with quick editing or digital dubs. And that, well damn it feels good …

It’s definitely not a drama around nuanced characters, instead you get ninja-blooded boxers, Green Berets with robotic arms that beat up invisible lizards and flying demons for a bloody, flaschy reunion. . When not in a fight, the characters bicker and spit out pseudo-spiritual expressions until they have to prepare for the next fight. Mortal Kombat is not for the fancy palate, but for those who know what to expect, get over here! Special mention to the roles of Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Kang, Blade, and Kung-Lao, excellent! Uhhh, the final duel is just insane, watch out for peepers … I have played this fight hundreds of times via games on different consoles for ages …

However, we must note some faults, still recurring … The dialogues, a few unnecessary lengths, and an unbearable Kano, even if devastating! The Goro part, although bloody, is a bit boring. As for the syno, well it’s always the same thing, basic … But it’s Mortal Kombat, nothing more, nothing less … Except that the film becomes, finally, a respectful tribute to the game.

The werewolf and its representation in cinema

Attention SPOILERS! You can consult the list of films mentioned at the end of the article.

Out of almost 30 films seen, the number of films depicting male and / or female werewolves is almost similar. We often have the representation that a werewolf is a man, when it is not.
The werewolf represents marginality. But this transforming body also refers to that of the woman. We left for the analysis of the representation of the werewolf.

Summary:

  1. The moon
  2. The wolf and the human
  3. The appearance of the werewolf
  4. The werewolf, a shield against gender-based violence?
  5. Love, elexir of the curse
  6. Bestial sexuality
  7. The wolf packs
  8. Conclusion: the wolf is in you

A werewolf (or lycanthrope therefore), is a human being who transforms completely or not, into a wolf. It can transform unintentionally, (often on a full moon), or intentionally. So there is one version of the beast that dominates, and the other that endures.
The 1st written record of the werewolf myth dates from the 5th century. Suffice to say that the lycanthrope had time to know several stories.

Although the werewolf is considered a powerful, malignant beast, he is viewed negatively:

  • It is a punishment of Zeus on Lycaon (Greek king),
  • He is associated with murderers and child eaters. As for example Gilles Garnier in 1570. We will note here the link with the Big Bad Wolf,
  • To become a wolf is to be linked to the beast that kills cattle (which represents food and clothing),
  • There was a werewolf hunt like a witch hunt,
  • Feeling like a werewolf can be a symptom of a mental disorder.

1-The moon

It is the writer and politician Gervais de Tilbury who is behind the connection with the werewolf who transforms during a new moon (and not a full moon as it is now portrayed). He writes it in his Book of Wonders in the 12th century.

The moon is a satellite that has an important place in our beliefs, whether they are ancient or not.
Moreover, it is very present through everyday expressions: being in the moon, getting the moon, being badly mooned, even being beautiful as the moon …


It has several symbols:

  • Change. A lunar cycle goes through a different perception of the moon. We talk about new moon, 1st crescents, quarters, waxing gibbous moon, and once the full moon is reached, the cycle starts again in the other direction. A gradual transformation therefore.
    To evoke a changing mental disorder, we speak of lunatic people.
  • Fertility. With his lunar cycle of 29 days, he is close to a menstrual cycle, usually around 28 days. It took no more for our Greek and Roman ancestors to associate the moon with the feminine (although there is no scientific evidence of a link between the 2). Thus, according to Aristotle, the full moon would facilitate the delivery.
    The moon therefore has its Greek goddess, Selene, and Roman, Luna. Note that these goddesses are transformed into witches (obviously evil) on new moon nights, following a pact with the Devil.
  • The power of nature. It is for this reason that witches are said to keep their Sabbaths, this feast, during a full moon. A symbiosis between nature and gods / goddesses, in an isolated corner, which will allow the magic not to be disturbed.
    It’s not surprising then that the moon is directly linked to the idea that the werewolf is a direct return of man, to nature.
    These elements make it an undeniable reference to the feminine.
Selene

If we look at its more scientific side, it is not devoid of interest either. We can note:

  • Its link with the Earth. The moon is often associated with the sun when in reality its pair would be more with the Earth. Indeed, 4 billion years ago, the Earth and the moon were one, and it was after a collision with another planet that they were fractured. It is for this reason that rock compositions are found on the moon, which are similar to the Earth.
    Thus, if we associate the moon with the transformation of man into a werewolf, we can see in it the fusion between the moon and the Earth. The latter obviously represents Men.
  • Its link with the sea. The moon is a source of reassuring light for sailors.
    But above all, the combined forces of gravity of the moon and the sun, regulate the tides.

2-The wolf and the human

Before getting to the heart of the matter, it’s worth noting that the werewolf movie subgenre has a reputation for offering a lot of (very) bad movies. And I will not go against this received idea, which is rather true (even if we find some pearls).

What questioned me, however, is why? Because horror subgenres featuring more or less monstrous animals are common in genre cinema. And if everything is obviously not successful, that does not prevent us from having very good films ranging from Alien, via Cujo, The Thing or The Fly, which for some tackle a transformation of the human being.

It remains very complicated to represent the transformation of a human into an animal that is close and known to us. Especially since humans have little to do with a canine, morphologically speaking. It is therefore a tour de force to succeed in making a human body evolve into the body of a wolf. Especially if we have to represent the body which becomes human again. There is a bit of an absurd and funny side in the end. Like a disguise.

Cursed

On the other hand, the link between man and wolf is very old. These are 2 species that quickly got along. They are social, work in packs, eat similar foods (which explains their clash over cattle, even though we know there are more dogs that kill them than wolves).
The wolf and the man are also attached to the notion of territory to defend, to mark it, to conquer it.

But we also know that Man became the first predator of the wolf in the Middle Ages, when their extermination really began. Clashes between inhabitants of mountainous regions and wolves are still raging today. The wolf has therefore been a protected species since 1990, which does not prevent some from killing them, exasperated.
The situation is worsening with global warming, which pushes humans and animals to live closer and closer.
Yet this cohabitation is ancestral; we just lost the habit of living in harmony with animals. A habit that we will surely have to resume.
The human being who must live in peace with wolves. In the same way that the werewolf materializes this challenge for humans to live in harmony with their wolf side.

Man is an animal like any other

With Man transformed into an (other) animal, werewolf films often question Man’s relationship to his animality. The way the bestial aspect takes over, and the consequences that affect his life.
As if we were starting from the principle that Man is not an animal, but a civilized being (even if we should define what we put behind the word civilized).
Indeed, we know that the genetic differences between apes and humans are minimal. In addition, it should be known that the man is the only one of his kind to strike and kill his companion.
So, there are now anthropologists, who tend to put men and animals on a similar level.

3-The appearance of the werewolf

Visually, the werewolf offers few variations. The main difference that can be noted between films, is the choice to show a gradual, partial or radical transformation.

Progressive female transformation

This is the first difference in treatment between male and female werewolves that can be noted.
In the vast majority of cases, we see a gradual transformation of women. That is, we see the character’s face evolve; but she keeps her human appearance.
When I say gradual transformation, I mean stages that you see for a shorter or longer time in the film. I ignore the gradual transformation that can occur just before the total transformation.

This is the case in the Ginger Snaps saga. We can also note a gradual and partial transformation in the magnificent Danish film When animals dream.
Gradually, Ginger and Marie’s face wrinkles, giving them a sharp and pointed appearance. The hair becomes lighter, and the eyes become sharper. Ditto in I Am Lisa.

Their faces are reminiscent of the painting by the German Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Two Women at the Street (1914).
In this painting, he represents two women who show their new independence with sensuality and confidence.
The angular lines, the vigorous hatching give an impression of a lively and violent movement. The sharp lines and masks of the faces refer to the primitivism that Kirchner greatly appreciates.
The independence that goes with their maturity is precisely what characterizes Ginger and Marie.

Two Woman at the Street

Note that this appearance also echoes a fairly common representation of the old witch.
Long, fair hair, long nails and sharp teeth, damaged skin, sometimes with unnatural eyes.
This refers to the witches present in the full moon myths mentioned above. As well as the Goddesses who are endowed with evil powers, also during a full moon.

In the broke but nevertheless partially interesting I Am Lisa, we do not see the total transformation of the heroine. You have to get to the end of the film to see a partial transformation. If the result is not shameful, we are moving away from an aesthetic linked to the wolf. We are more on a representation of demons.
So here we are more in the idea of evil powers (like the Greek and Roman Goddesses, which I mentioned above).

Wilding

Wildling offers quite a few progressive transformation sequences, and besides her end state is quite close to human (she is rather halfway between a werewolf and a “wild” human being)
In contrast, the film dwells on the gradual effects of this transformation on her psyche, her relationship with the new world she is discovering.

We mainly see a gradual transformation of women, unlike men

Finally there is only in Wildling, and especially She Wolf of London (but when you know the ending you know why), in which the werewolf keeps a relatively human appearance.
Note that in the case of these 2 films, the protagonists fully accept their condition. In Wildling’s case, since she’s been deprived of her body for years, she takes advantage of it. In She Wolf of London, she very quickly suspects herself of having committed murders at night and decides to isolate herself. She therefore undergoes gaslighting throughout the film, while the threat is very real, even if she is wrong about her origin.

She Wolf of London

Progressive male transformation

As I said, there are rarely gradual transformations of male characters.

On the other hand, there are representations that I would say partial (that is to say that we do not see a wolf monster strictly speaking). In other words, man can always be distinguished through his transformation into a werewolf.
This is the case in Wolf, or The Curse of Werewolf, Werewolf of London (1935) or A werewolf boy. But their faces are never disfigured. They are especially hairier!
In addition, it has the consequence that one does not see any potential pain.

What are the consequences of these progressive transformations?

Representing these partial transformations assault the face (in the same way as in the representation of possession, it is the women who most often have damaged faces). What represents the very identity, is touched. These women are portrayed in a monstrous light, which can arouse a certain disgust.
Moreover, these gradual transformations are often painful, physically or mentally. The character has to adapt to this changing physique. What puts these female characters in a weak position, rather in the process of undergoing this transformation.

On the contrary, werewolf men, rarely knowing this intermediate stage, do not live this in between.
No complicated bodily situations to experience.
They are most often shown in the light of a complete transformation. This establishes their strength and power, and causes not disgust, but rather fear. And therefore represents a domination.

Note that this difference may seem trivial, yet there is research, notably by Pierre Ancet in his book Phenomenology of Monstrous Bodies which shows the opposite. He notes that we have a real repulsion towards deformed bodies close to human (and therefore our own relationship to the body), unlike plant nonsense or strange rocks. What is more, if a subject is perceived as monstrous, it is first of all because he is seen as such by others. We agree here with the importance of the notion of looking at women.

Moreover, it implies a notion of attraction for this body. Indeed, this strange body gives a lot of unusual things to see, so we experience a fascination (which women are often the object of in genre cinema).
But this attraction / repulsion duality means that we no longer see the other as a whole person. You can only see it through this deformity. Thus, we find here the notion of woman as object.

You see what I mean? This disfigurement of female characters has an emotional consequence, or a look at these characters, of which we are not necessarily aware. All the more so if we are used to seeing these progressive transformations mainly on a genre.
And above all, unlike the possession which takes its inspiration from the ways of discrediting women with hysteria, I see no reason for this difference in treatment. In the collective imagination, the werewolf is a man, so maybe we wanted to treat the female characters in a different way. Maybe you have some answers?

Complete transformation

In most films, we represent the werewolf (man or woman), without intermediate step, as in Wolf, Teddy, Trick Or Treat, Cursed, The werewolf of London, The werewolf of Paris, The good manners or even Howls.
This obviously does not prevent the classic tracks of transformation from being launched to the public: the senses increased tenfold, the appetite for meat, for sexuality …
Perfect equality of treatment, if I may say so.
Except that, the most impressive complete transformations and on which one insists, concern mainly the men. Even when the film features a male and female werewolf.

In The Company of Wolves, we are entitled to 2 striking scenes. The very graphic 1st, based on blood and skeleton, which reflects the brutality of a man who has become a beast, and who attacks his former companion.

The other more moving, with a more carnal aspect, which corresponds to the “subtext” of sexuality concerning Little Red Riding Hood.

However, a female character and the heroine transform at the end. Except … that it is suggested (we do not forget to put a naked one on the other hand). For one, she changes very discreetly in the dark, and the other she is discovered already metamorphosed.

Wolf offers 3 werewolf characters. The 2 male characters played by Jack Nicholson and James Spader are transformed. But not Michelle Pfeiffer, whose transformation is suggested via her beautiful evolving eyes.
In The Werewolf of London, Bad Moon we witness one (or more) transformation (s) in a frontal way.

Much like in Howling, the transformation of man is shown in an evolutionary way even though fast. It is interesting to note that the man is sublimated during his transformation through his sexual performance. As for her partner, she is back to the ground, without seeing the evolution of her face.
You will also notice that the man maintains a head quite close to his human condition, unlike the woman.

The end of the film mostly shows the heroine’s change of state through her eyes once again. And most importantly, when you quickly show her final state (before she gets killed, unlike male werewolves), she looks like a poodle …
This is undoubtedly to distinguish the protagonists from the antagonists. But that does not prevent representing it with a little more class all the same!

Howling

In Bad Moon, the werewolf is the unambiguous antagonist of this story, which aims to show the power of a single-parent family. To demonstrate this, the film shows the monstrosity of the character in his psychology (and his manipulation), and through his physique. So we see the werewolf in its entirety regularly in the film; which gradually increases the tension about the danger that threatens the mother.

We can forget the catastrophic representations of the complete transformations of Julie Delpy in An American Werewolf in Paris (3 writers for as much mediocrity is a lot) which are anecdotal.
Moreover, we can note that the staging thinks (a little) about the transformation of the male character, by trying to create a climax with the fountain where he hides just before appearing with a bang.

We dwell a little more on Judy Greer’s role in Cursed. The visual effects (already very ugly for the time) do not help, but above all the idea is to show the appearance of the physical monstrosity of the antagonist that the protagonists will have to face. Also, we see very little the antagonist in the film before. So the emotional impact is very different than if it had been Christina Ricci.

Even though the portrayal of women’s transformations in Trick Or Treat is excessively sexualized (I will come back to this later), there are a few interesting points that can be noted. You should know that at this time, they overturn the cliché of Little Red Riding Hood. They are the predatory wolves to be wary of. They shed their human skin, like a costume, which is a direct reference to the tale. It’s a way of shedding their appearance that makes them potential victims. The transformation is not quite complete, but it is coming very close. The case of this film is a bit special because it comes close to a narration of sketch films.

The bad western Blood Moon shows a complete live transformation I would like to say of a female character. The only interesting sequence in the film, where you can feel the body decompose, unfold. Unfortunately as no character is written in this film, this transformation brings nothing (the sequence even comes out of nowhere). Neither in the story, nor in the evolution of the character.

The only films where the complete transformation is portrayed frontally, which involves the willingness to show the final evolution of the character, is in Ginger Snaps 1 and 2 (written by women, I remind you!).

In general, either we put more emphasis on the staging, the complete transformation of a man, or it nourishes the character or the plot.

4-The werewolf, a shield against gender-based violence?

When the main character is female, the stakes are often linked to the idea of countering gender-based violence.

To return more specifically to the case of Marie in When Animals dream, the appearance of her real nature comes at the end of her adolescence (around 20 years old), unlike Ginger (her transformation comes at the time of her period). She is in search of her origins, and she understands that it is hereditary, her mother being struck by the same disease. Here the werewolf myth is used to survive male toxicity. Indeed, her mother found herself in a wheelchair; he was put out of action. She had killed men who had assaulted her. Yet she retains all her strength when it comes to defending her daughter who is in the hands of her father and the doctor.

When animals dream

From the first images, we know that what Marie will suffer first is the male gaze on her. She is half naked, at the doctor’s (the same one who will try to treat her despite his will).
Working in a male environment, she is hazed by men, immersed in a bath of fish waste. She is sexually assaulted by 2 colleagues.
Men not only pollute the environment of these women, but they also try to make them disappear because they are afraid of their rebellion.

This desire to deviate from traditional werewolf themes (total body transformation, animalization in the forest), passes through the decor. The action of When Animals Dream takes place in a small port town. No forest, trees or a full moon, here we are among fishes and fishermen, with no other perspective for the protagonists and antagonists. But as we have seen above, the moon is linked to the sea.

It is present in a subtle way. Elements that refer to the moon are placed in the same frame as Mary:

  • Round objects (satellite dish, decorative objects, a small mill that spins in the garden),
  • Round mirrors.

The moon, as we saw above is regularly associated with the feminine.
In my opinion, this supports the fact that Marie is surrounded by her status as a woman (and by the sea), which places her at the center of the animosity of the men in her village.
What I found particularly relevant in this beautiful film is that Mary, who has the status of an animal, is not portrayed as bad, evil. Unlike the men who are considered by the village as civilized beings (because they would try to protect the village from Mary and her mother).

This is also the observation that can be made in the exploitative erotic horror La lupa mannara, but with a very problematic point. Which shows that the same subject does not necessarily tell the same story …
The moon is constantly associated with the heroine (who by the way is not really a werewolf, but more like a vampire).
Thus, the montage regularly associates the moon with its face. In addition, car headlights are frequently used to remind people of the moon. I would even add that, in this specific case, the moon and the headlights are the symbols of the voyeuristic male gaze (especially of the director) on the heroine. Indeed, it only exists through its status as an object of desire and domination (the rape scene is also very representative of the stinking rape & revenge of exploitation cinema of the 70s).

But there is no shortage of sexist comments in Lupa Mannara. The heroine is portrayed as the evil witch (she is depicted as in the legends of witches dancing on the evening of a full moon, which I mentioned above). Indeed, it is staged in a communion with the forces of evil, or in nature with a cauldron.

She also becomes puritanical. A victim of rape in her youth, she has since hated sexuality. So she starts killing … women who are sexually active (she will not kill her sister, but will punish her by killing her husband and insulting him). And when she is raped again, she won’t use that same superhuman strength to defend herself. It is her new companion who will leave his skin there, wanting to save her. In addition, his life is ruled by his father. And despite everything she went through, she will die locked in an asylum.
The staging, which excessively sexualizes women, only lowers them to the status of a body. So yes, the aim of the film is to vulgarly attract the male customer. But it seemed important to me to point out how this type of work is still a problem.

If Wildling gets lost along the way, entangled in a Twilight-style vibe, Part 1 of the film is clever at portraying the heroine’s control of the body.
Anna is the survivor of a wolf hunt. She is picked up (and kidnapped) by a hunter who has no heart to kill her. But having a horror of the werewolf species, he drugs it dangerously to stop its period, and therefore its growth.
He therefore takes control of his body from his childhood, which he will try to take back at the end of the film. He tries to perform a cesarean on Anna, in order to recover (again) a child. We can see a subtext on incest and pedophilia, but also on the massacre of the Amerindian population.

The main stake for Anna in the meantime is to regain her body, her mobility, and of course to taste the joys of adolescence. A bodily and psychological change. Here again, his more “wild” state than a wolf, will allow him to defend himself against the sexual assault of a young person of his age (who will be represented by the way as a wolf).

Wilding

The case of I Am Lisa is special. It is explicitly stated that the heroine is a lesbian, and she is assaulted by women, following the refusal of advances from one of them. Left for dead and bitten by wolves, she will take revenge, werewolf for her condition.
Here we find the classic patriarchal scheme, but executed by women. Lisa also helps women (her best friend, a teenage girl abandoned by her mother…).
If the film botches its subject too much, and that it can be perceived as lesbophobic (especially since it is directed and written by men), it has the merit of illustrating that patriarchal domination is not exercised. than by men. And that it can be quite internalized by women. Thus, it is a way of destroying the argument often used by men to justify sexism, namely that it is validated by women.

I Am Lisa

In A werewolf boy, it’s the werewolf isn’t the danger. He is the bulwark against misogyny. We can obviously see the inability of the heroine to defend herself, but to the extent that she comes to the aid of her werewolf lover in another way, I rather retain a form of equality between the 2.
It should be noted that unlike the very dark depictions of love in other films, the vision of love is sublimated here. Everything is overexposed, clear, yellow, happy, bright.

5-Love, elixir of the curse

Love is often a major issue in werewolf movies. We find him in The Curse of Werewolf, Wildling, Blood & Chocolate, An American werewolf in Paris, When Animals dream, A Werewolf Boy…

Indeed, it should be known that love is often brandished as an element of care, even a remedy, for the evil of the werewolf.
This is the case in The Curse of Werewolf and its reboot / remake Wolfman. The female character is incidental, it exists only through the hero, to serve the hero.
In The Curse of Werewolf, Christina (who is presented only as a character promised to marriage), wishes to live her freedom in love with Leon, the werewolf. We will not know anything more about his desires, his personality; it represents care.
In the same way that Gwen in Wolfman is first the wife of a werewolf who will eventually be killed, only to fall in love with her brother, also a werewolf. How, in times of mourning, did she discover feelings for the hero, Larry? Mystery. In any case, she is once again the only issue for the werewolf hero. I am thinking here of an editing problem, because we feel a character who undoubtedly had more visibility.

Love interest is sometimes central, and even defines the characters.
This is the case in Blood & Chocolate, where the half-human, half-wolf heroine waits for a man to come into her life to emancipate herself. In fact, the only time we will see her transformation is to defend her lover. He is also the only reason she will attack her fellow human beings.
A similar pattern takes place in An American Werewolf in Paris. Werewolf Serafine is saved from suicide by the hero Andy. Subsequently, she believes she has infected him, and the rule is that to ward off the curse, the contaminated must eat the heart of the werewolf who attacked him.
The symbolism is obvious, Andy, werewolf, must literally tear the heart of his sweetheart. Note that twice, Sérafine wishes to die (from her wounds, and by suicide). Twice, Andy will be the savior. However, instead of trying to save herself (or to exist apart from her stepfather, the toxic men around her and Andy), she will systematically seek to save her lover. Trying to pull him away, almost giving up his life there, even trying to relax him by putting his hands on her chest. Normal.

An American Werewolf in Paris

All of these examples refer strongly to what is called nurse syndrome.
For fear of not being loved, to heal an injury, or quite simply because the structural functioning of society is the responsibility of women to take care of others (family, husband, children, etc.), many women seek to cure an illness that gnaws at their companion. To the detriment of their own life, desires, needs.

The only example where love is the central subject of the film and which does not correspond to these observations, is the wonderful Good Manners. The 1st part evokes a love between 2 women (which is not the subject of the film). Part 2 shows a mother’s love for her child who is physically different from herself. If the film obviously evokes marginality, it is reminiscent of the problems encountered by mothers who have an adopted child who does not look like them. Black director Amandine Gay regularly evokes these differences which have very concrete consequences on a daily basis.

Good Maners

6-Bestial sexuality

The werewolf, a concrete manifestation of human animality, has to do with sexuality. Which I personally have always found quite funny, but I touched on the subject in the introduction, above.
You see me coming, so this is an opportunity to come back to the treatment of sexuality according to the gender of the protagonist!

So the female werewolf in Howling is only there to tempt the male.
In Trick n Treat, we are entitled to many close-ups of the breasts of the werewolf who transform. Big breasts, very standardized bodies, all added to the fantasies of the costumes… we are swimming in a rather ridiculous excessive sexualization.
Note that these 2 examples refer to the dimension of the evil witch, and their dances in the middle of nature, as I mentioned in the introduction on the symbols linked to the moon.

We regularly find the illustration of nurse syndrome

Julie Delpy devotes herself with all her body to relax the hero in An American Werewolf in Paris.
And obviously Ginger Snaps illustrates the discovery of the body and sexuality, while not sexualizing its heroine (unlike the other examples).
There is obviously the deplorable case of La lupa mannara, the problems of which I have already mentioned above.

There are also cases where the woman is sexualized through the male gaze. This is the case in Cursed. The heroine becomes sexually attractive to all men.
This is also the point that can be made in Cat People (although here it is a panther and not a wolf). She exudes such a strong attraction that a passer-by (yes it should be noted that there is still a passer-by!), Seems to love her (if we can call that love), to the point of wanting to marry her. (too) very quickly.
Moreover, this state in the heroine rather creates a fear of sexuality. With the help of unsubtle metaphorical images of the padlock and the key (Freud’s concept to symbolize penetration), we understand that she does not know how to manage both her physical state, but also the reactions that it creates on men (both her husband and her doctor). In fact, the first time she kills, it will be to defend herself from sexual assault.

Cat People

In the comedy My mom is a werewolf, a mother is pushed back with mental strain, and neglected by her husband. This need for love on the part of her husband and children, leads her to give in to the advances of a werewolf. She will not be released from anything, because he actually wants to make her his wife. Besides that, her new state will provoke sexual desires towards her husband, who miraculously regains an interest in his wife. But her situation will become more complicated, torn between her husband and the werewolf. From being a woman trapped in her home, she will pass to a woman trapped between two men. Not to mention that she keeps the same classic injunctions on women (shaving your legs then becomes a real problem!). So yes this is an unpretentious comedy, but the trigger for the film which responds to the protagonist’s basic premise is supposedly depicting a shift, in the form of the werewolf. However, it is not.

Women werewolf wolves rarely hunt their prey unlike men

Men increase their power tenfold

On the contrary, this werewolf power allows men to be sexually active, powerful, and dominant.
This allows them to seduce women much younger than them (Wolf), gain popularity and / or seduce women (TeenWolf, Cursed, The Curse of Wolfman, A werewolf boy, The Wolfman, The Company of Wolves) .

The most egregious example is in Cursed. In this (bad) movie, a male and female character are transformed into werewolves (although we don’t see a final transformation). The way of experiencing the transformation is radically different.
The suffering heroine hides in the toilet. While his brother lets his new manhood explode, which will finally give him confidence.
The purpose of the film (treated superficially) is to show that (almost) all men are beasts, and therefore potentially dangerous. It’s interesting to note that the answer to that, is to place a female antagonist (who only kills women), who attacks the protagonist for the simple reason … that she stole her boyfriend. . Instead of a patriarchal systemic observation, we always prefer to attack women.

The example of Werewolf of London (1935) shows a scientist close to Frankenstein, who once became a werewolf, only attacks women. But women who commit a sin: to walk around alone at night, or to be the mistress of a husband. This is a projection he makes on his own wife, who bonds with an old friend because she is neglected by her own husband. Eventually he will attack them, to no avail. It is not good to have sex outside of marriage …

In Bad Moon, the hero sees his companion devoured by a werewolf in the midst of a sexual frenzy. He obviously becomes a werewolf afterwards and hunts. But forced to move away from where he lived, he found nothing better than to settle in the garden of his sister, a single mother. He is curiously deliberately endangering her (while warning her!). When she finds out the truth, she is insulted copiously against a backdrop of comments tinged with sexism. Thus, throughout the film, he maintains a power over her, threatening her living space.
Interestingly, I take this opportunity to note that the man is portrayed as the dangerous animal, through the eyes of the family dog. The dog’s point of view is also used regularly in the film, which helps to create real empathy with him, showing that he understands the situation. It’s rare enough in genre cinema to notice this.

Bad Moon

The only example that seems to me to counteract these findings is the protagonist of Teddy. Rather, his transformation into a werewolf destroys what he had (his stammering interactions with the villagers, his girlfriend, his plans), and worsens his predicament. And if he writes Carrie-style vengeance, he spares the one that broke his heart.

Note that female werewolf rarely becomes predatory. Ginger in Ginger Snaps defends her territory more than she hunts, Marie in When Animals Dream retaliates, Lisa in I Am Lisa takes revenge on her abusers. In Cat People it’s about watching over husband and mistress, and in Company of Wolves she doesn’t get the chance to attack anyone.
It’s only in Cursed, where the antagonist hunts rivals.

Whereas in Bad Moon, Werewolf of London, The Curse of Werewolf, The Wolfman, Wolf, Blood Moon… men hunt with more or less reason in mind.

In either case, it is not good to be a werewolf, as the outcome will often be fatal. The concrete animal part of Man does not seem to have its place!

7-The packs of wolves

I’ve talked a lot about werewolves, those beasts that are a fusion of human and wolf to form yet another monster apart.
But there are also a few movies where if it’s about transformations, it’s not about werewolves. But wolves, quite simply.

This is the case with Blood & Chocolate, Wolfwalkers, Wolfen (although there is actually no question of transformation) or Twilight.
What these films have in common is the pack. The protagonist evolves in collectivity. Unlike the werewolf who is alone (except in Howls where the pack is quickly shown).

In Blood & Chocolate, humans transform at will, especially during a hunting party. A way to stay in tune with their second nature.
In Wolfwalkers, it is during their sleep that the 2 heroines transform. The staging makes strong reference to the Zelda video game, The Twilight Princess, with the scent traces clearly visible by the wolves.

Wolfwolkers

It also brings about a significant change in appearance. The character is never a monster. He is still a creature that actually exists.
In addition, the transformation does not come through pain.
Finally, the power of the protagonists is not increased tenfold. They benefit from the characteristics of each state, whether they are humans or wolves.

In my opinion, this helps to quickly empathize with the characters. Whether in one state or another, these are familiar appearances. What’s more, the wolf is not the most terrifying animal. He looks a lot like the dog, man’s best friend.
What is more, these characters have the status of victims, exterminated by humans. They are not predators, which makes a big difference to the werewolf, which attacks more or less blindly and fiercely.
Finally, it gives a collective dimension, and reflects a systemic problem. There are many parallels with threatened populations.
It is a little used prism, which deserves more relevant works on the subject. Wolfen also explores this theme with intelligence, but it is not a question of werewolves or wolfwalkers, but of wolves outright.

8-Conclusion: the wolf is in you

We have seen that progressive and partial transformations are predominant in female characters. We focus much more on the pain of a transforming body and mind. The werewolf metaphor is therefore ideal for evoking adolescence or entering adulthood. It seems to me that this is consistent with the fact that women’s bodies change the most in a lifetime (adolescence, pregnancy, post-pregnancy body, menopause). It would therefore be interesting to use the werewolf to represent these crucial stages of life as well. And that would make it possible to portray older female characters.
It goes without saying that it would take more women at the helm for these stories to be seen on screen (whether writing, producing or directing). I note that there are only 2 female directors out of the 28 films I have seen for this article.

Ginger Snaps

If sexuality has been used in many films, often to the detriment of the quality of the female characters, it would be interesting to explore it other than through the prism of punishment, frustration or manipulation. Sexuality (or non-sexuality) is a vast subject. Most of the movies are still based on a diagram of the mom (or the nurse) or the whore.

Finally, since the male characters see their manly power increased tenfold with the werewolf, it would be interesting to see films digging into Teddy’s example. Show the weaknesses of characters hidden under the appearance of a big strong man. Try to develop psychologies, instead of just showing a classic path that often leads to the same conclusion: death.

Teddy

The figure of the werewolf will continue to fascinate me because I love the idea of showing that the human has no control over the transformation of his body. This lack of control is also found in the acts committed, which humans do not remember. This questions the degree of responsibility for our actions, our conscience.
And this way of visually linking man to animal is fascinating, all the more so now, with the animal condition which is more and more questioned and defended.

The werewolf movie has a bad reputation, but it offers a lot of possibilities for telling the human story. And I hope that new ideas will emerge through this prism.

Films seen / cited

  • An American Werewolf in London by John Landis,
  • An American werewolf in Paris by Anthony Waller,
  • When Animals Dream by Jonas Alexander Arnby,
  • The Curse of Werewolf by Terence Fisher,
  • Good Manners of Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra,
  • Ginger Snaps by John Fawcett,
  • Ginger Snaps 2 by Brett Sullivan,
  • Ginger Snaps 3 by Grant Harvey,
  • The Wolfman by Joe Johnston,
  • A Werewolf Boy by Jo Sung-Hee,
  • Wolf by Mike Nichols,
  • Blood & Chocolate by Katja von Garnier,
  • Wolfwalkers by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart
  • La Lupa mannara by Rino Di Silvestro
  • Teddy by Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma,
  • The Company of Wolves of Neil Jordan,
  • Wildling by Fritz Bohm,
  • Trick Or Treat by Michael Dougherty,Eric Red’s Bad Moon,
  • She Wolf of London by Jean Yarbrough,
  • My mom is a werewolf by Michael Fischa
  • Cat people by Jacques Tourneur,
  • Cursed by Wes Craven,
  • Howling of Joe Dante,
  • I Am Lisa by Patrick Rea,
  • Blood moon by Jeremy Wooding,
  • Teen Wolf by Rod Daniel,
  • Werewolf of London (1935) by Stuart Walker
  • Wolfen by Michael Wadleigh

Cinematographic and literary genres

I’ve been talking about films for a while now, but I’ve never written an article about genres as such, because I wasn’t really paying attention until then. I was told that such and such a film was part of such and such a genre and I said “Okey”!
I don’t like to put artistic works in cases, but we must recognize that certain films or books respect codes which are specific to their genre, and we will see why.

Why classify films by genre?

There are two ways to approach the question of gender:

  • Either we have the film and then we have the genre:

The director thinks he wants to make a film and then it’s up to the theaters, the producers, see the spectators to give it a genre.

George Mélies, in directing “Voyage dans la Lune”, didn’t think he was going to make a sci-fi movie, for good reason the genre didn’t exist yet.

  • Either we have the genre first and then we have the movie:

The director will say to himself, I am going to make an action film (for example) and create his film based on the genre

But which came first the chicken or the egg? What is the relationship between the egg, the chicken and science fiction?

I am deeply convinced that in the first place there were films and the more they were, the more we could see similarities appear, first borrowed from other art forms, until the appearance of similarities which were specific to them.

In 1903, “The great train robbery” was released, a film where cowboys steal a train in the American West.
In 1914, “Squaw Man” was released, a film about an English officer who was to marry an Indian in the American West.
In 1916, “Hell’s Hinges” tells the story of a cowboy who falls in love with an outlaw in the American West

From there, the audience thought, “It would still be handy if we had a name for all of our films with cowboys and Indians in the American West!” “
As for the producers, they say to themselves: “I would like to make a film with cowboys and Indians in the American West, but I would like to bring something else to it”
And you get the need to name: The Western.
The label is for the public to say, “I’ll be fine watching a Western.” “, So that the cinema can say:” We offer you a Western. “, But above all so that the directors can say to themselves” I want to do a Western. “
Genre cinema was born.

The genre film is a film in which the genre is creative. It is a film that will take into account the codes of a genre, to exploit them, to divert them, to satisfy or deceive the expectations of the viewer. Because when we talk about gender in the cinema, we are talking about the spectator’s expectations.

But how are genres defined? Well, it’s something very vague and often the same movie can have several genres. To make this article I used several criteria.

How to define a genre?

For me there are 4 elements that define the genre of a film:

  1. The tone of the film
  2. The themes of the film
  3. The scenario (by its structure or concerning certain elements only)
  4. The target of the film

Some people use the format of the film, but for me, it’s a mistake.

When you see the animated film category on certain sites, it makes as much sense to me as black and white films or silent films or even cinema scope films. It doesn’t ring a bell about the movie you’re going to watch.
A genre that brings together under the same label:

“The Emoji Movie”, “Akira”, “Persepolis” and “The Lord of the Ring” (1978)
It’s a label that is useless.

Among its four elements, some will have practically binding conditions, established rules that cannot be broken, but these are often very broad rules.
In the family genre, the only essential element is related to the tone, it must be accessible and viewable to children without bothering parents. Yes, it is fuzzy and arbitrary!

Why are “Maleficent” from 2014 and “Night at the Museum” Home movies and not “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” from 2014 are not?


In the Crime genre we have an imperative that falls within the scenario. There has to be one or more crimes, or criminality, and this crime, these crimes, this criminality has to be a big issue in the scenario.

The viewer, when going to see a family or crime genre film, has other expectations, but these are optional. It reveals codes of the genre.

Watching a crime film, I think police, charismatic villain, dark film that happens mostly at night, where the characters are lonely and a little disillusioned.


When people talk to me about family films, I think colorful film, light tone and happy ending, creepy antagonist but just right, brave protagonists.

But when you watch “Home Alone” or “The Mask” you realize that his films fall under the Crime genre and do not have at all that atmosphere that I imagine.

Much like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” or “Coraline” doesn’t tick all the boxes I imagine when I am told a family movie, especially when it comes to the creepy antagonists but not too many!

Brrrr

But the four of them have in common that they respect The indispensable condition which allows them to belong to the family gender.

Finally last detail, the genres are obviously not waterproof. Nothing prevents a film from having a crime theme while including children in its audience:

Indeed a film can belong to several genres:
(Image coco de pixar) (genres: Fantasy, family, adventure, musical)

Ten of my favorite genres (not necessarily in order):

Small methodology point:

I use IMDB to provide me with a list of keywords to add them to a table to sort which appear the most and those that appear the least according to each genre.

Finally, I use Letterbox which organizes the films by genre while prioritizing the genres. Thus “Back to the Future” is classified first as a family film, then as an adventure film, then a comedy and finally as a science fiction film. So Back to the future will fit perfectly into the family genre but a little less than “Interstelllar” for science fiction or “The Big Lebowski” for comedy but still partly corresponds to it.
Finally not only will I tell you about 10 genres but in addition I will tell you about 5 subgenres for each of them.

I/ Historical Movies:

Expectations :

Tone: Serious
Theme: A historic event
Scenario: Depends on the event
Target: Rather adults

Most common keywords:

  1. Based on true story
  2. What happened in Epilogue
  3. Politics
  4. Based on real person
  5. Epic
  6. Husband Wife relationship
  7. Based on book
  8. Battle
  9. Father Son relationship
  10. World War II

Less common keywords:

  1. Psychotronic film
  2. Surprise ending
  3. Cult film
  4. Chase
  5. Cell Phone
  6. Supernatural Power
  7. Kidnapping
  8. Good versus Evil
  9. Sequel
  10. Falling from height

Description:

This is one of the easiest genres to catalog. The facts told must be based on real historical facts. The key word that comes up most often is “based on true history”, but the prerequisite is that it must be based on real historical facts.


In Robbert Eggers’s “The Witch,” is a historical film about colonists who were excommunicated in New England in the 1630s, to whom a whole lot of funny adventures happen. (A whole family dies in misery, resentment, fear and guilt.) But this story is totally fictional, these people never existed.


“Troy” is a historical film when we are not even sure that the Trojan War actually took place.

But his films take place in a context which is based on real historical facts. Conversely, being based on real events is not enough to make a film historic.


“The Social Network” is based on a true story, but is not a historical film. A historical film depicts a state of the world that is no longer today.


“A Beautiful Man”, is a biography of John Forbes Nash, is not tagged as a historical film as it is set between 1947 and 1994.


Whereas “Zero Dark Thirty” which tells the story of the hunt for Bin Laden is a historical film set between 2001 and 2011.
The difference is in the subject. “A Beautiful Man” might as well be set in another era. It is not the indirect portrait of a society, but only the story of a man.

Subgenres:

Biopic:

The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.

Peplum:

The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.

Docudrama:

A sub-genre that is close to documentary, while remaining a work of fiction.

War Movies:

War movies may not have the historical aspects of the conflicts in question, like Disney’s “Mulan” is a war movie without being a historical movie. Often war films are categorized as a genre in their own right.

Swashbuclers:

Genre responding to strict rules, his films must take place in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, in which a courageous character, almost always male (pity) rebels, sword in hand often against authority. There is often a damsel in distress to save, seduce and / or protect.

II/ Adventure Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: light
Theme: Travel, danger, friendship …
Scenario: good guys, bad guys, happy ending
Target: all public

Most common keywords:

  1. Blockbuster
  2. Rescue
  3. Explosion
  4. Good Versus Evil
  5. Battle
  6. Warrior
  7. Falling From Height
  8. Martial Arts
  9. Action Hero
  10. Male protagonist

Less common keywords:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Female Nudity
  3. Blood
  4. Telephone Call
  5. Husband Wife Relationship
  6. Based On True Story
  7. F word
  8. Blood Splatter
  9. Hospital
  10. Gore

Description:


When we talk about adventure films we immediately think of Indiana Jones or Indiana Jones or … But what is an adventure film that is not Indiana Jones?
The adventure film shares a great deal of reference with action cinema. If we look at the keywords that come up most often in both cases, we find:

  • Rescue
  • Explosions
  • Warrior
  • Good versus evil

But if we look at the key words that separate them, we have on the action side elements of violence while on the adventure side, we have elements related to interpersonal relationships and especially “exotic” elements, disorienting. Either things that do not exist like magic or monsters, or places like, a forest, a castle, cave … I deduce that the essential element in the adventure film, is a certain level of disorientation of the viewer but to a lesser extent, the viewer will expect a lighter film, more all public than for any other genre. Some key words that are relatively less present to qualify this kind of film bear witness to this:

  • F word
  • Gore
  • Blood splash
  • Female nudity
  • Smoking cigarettes

Adventure films are generally more consensual, and many recent superhero films are labeled adventure before sci-fi and action.
It’s very hard to find a movie that just has the adventure label, but here are a few subgenres that almost always have it.

Subgenres:

Swashbuclers:

A protagonist who wields a sword and has a big mouth! You cannot conceive of a Swashbuckler with a pistol or who would face it.
We find “Pirates of the Caribbean” or even films of an Asian genre: the Chambara.

These are samurai films, one of his most famous examples of which is “Seven Samurai” by the great Kurosawa.

Road Movies:

These are films in which, or more often, the protagonists are on the road. Very American kind, the highways are a metaphor for freedom.

Treasure hunting movies:


Film characterized by fairly obvious elements of the scenario, finding or rediscovering one or more things …

Disaster films:


What could be more exotic than imagining the world falling apart?

Pirates Movies:


As long as it’s about pirates, it’s a pirate movie.

III/ Action Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: from very light to very serious
Theme: revenge, conflict, violence, gun …
Scenario: Good guys, bad guys, bad guys.
Target: mostly men.

Most common keywords:

  1. Shootout
  2. Pistol
  3. Explosion
  4. Machin Gun
  5. Martial Arts
  6. Fistlight
  7. Shot in the chest
  8. Tough guy
  9. Gun fight
  10. Hand to hand combat

Less common keyword:

  1. Crying
  2. Mother son relationship
  3. Dancing
  4. Family relationship
  5. Marriage
  6. Singing
  7. Telephone call
  8. Friend
  9. Based on true story
  10. Mother daughter relationship

Description:

It is less about action than violence, but violence is not enough to define action cinema. Many horror films are violent without necessarily being action films. The main characteristic of an action film is a fast pace. The spectator must be kept in suspense by the chain of events embodied by a confrontation between two entities.

Subgenres:

Super hero movies:


Superhero films that are not action films are extremely rare. Indeed, who says super hero says super villains and super clashes.
In these films, the main protagonist possesses extraordinary abilities and uses them to do good.

Martial Art Movies:


The genre includes all karate and kung fu films …

Wuxia:


Very Asian genre if there is one, these are fantastic films where a character will suffer a tragic loss and begin an initiatory journey during which he will become a powerful warrior following the path of Xia (the path of the warrior / hero / vigilante) ), with a sword.

Adaptation of video games into film:


You have to believe that the studios believe that gamers can only enjoy action movies.
Detective Pikachu: Puzzle Games = Action Movie
Final fantasy IIV: Japanese role-playing games = action movie
Resident Evil: Survival horror = action movie
I’m exaggerating a bit but not by much.

Spy Movie:


Indispensable condition, it has to be about spies, but the public will more or less expect a James Bond clone with his gadgets, big, very nasty corporations and a nice spy who plays it, over equipped and over trained. that infiltrates their headquarters.

IV/ Thrillers

Expectations:

  • Tone: Serious, heavy
  • Theme: Murder, mystery, threat, investigation …
  • Scenario: The outcome is very important
  • Target: Adult

Most common keywords:

  1. Murder
  2. Pistol
  3. Shot to death
  4. Shot in the chest
  5. Blood splatter
  6. Death
  7. Blood
  8. Neo Noir
  9. Shoutout
  10. Corps

Less common keywords:

  1. Battle
  2. Sword
  3. Friendship
  4. Sword fight
  5. Horse
  6. Singing
  7. Male protagpnist
  8. Epic
  9. Combat
  10. Monster

Description:

Where action movies hold viewers’ attention with adrenaline, thrillers do so with suspense.
Overall you need a heavy atmosphere, the thriller goes with almost all genres but not with comedy, and suspense.
But what makes thrillers different from horror movies?
In the horror film, the protagonists are overwhelmed by the events there or in the thrillers, the protagonists are more active in overcoming their adventures.

Subgenres:

The Psychological Thriller:


In the psychological thriller, the danger is not so much to lose your life as to lose your sanity.

Polars:

Genre taken from literature, includes all films whose plot is detective.
You can group together gangster films and black films.

Complotist Thrillers:

The movies where the hero finds out that the truth is not as he thinks it is and that anyone could know about it and try to silence him.

The Technothrillers:


Close to science fiction, the plot of these thrillers is based on scientific advances in military or spy circles.

Giallo:


A genre that could also be classified as horror cinema, since it is the precursor of the slasher. Gialli (plural of Giallo) are films where usually several women are murdered by a killer whose identity is unknown to the viewer. It was a very popular genre in the 1970s, and the undisputed master of which was Dario Argento.

V/ Horror Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: dark
Theme: Death, anguish, torture, paranormal …
Scenario: unhappy end, only one stake: survival
Target: Adolescent, adult.

Most common keywords:

  1. Gore
  2. Blood
  3. Psychologitronic film
  4. Grindhouse film
  5. Blood splatter
  6. Corpse
  7. Supernatural power
  8. Murder
  9. Fear
  10. Surprise ending

Less common keywords:

  1. Battle
  2. Blockbuster
  3. Hand to hand combat
  4. Martial arts
  5. Hero
  6. Shoutout
  7. Based on true story
  8. Combat
  9. Action hero
  10. Fistfight

Description:


I often hear people say: “I don’t like horror movies, they don’t scare me. “
Well that’s okay, horror movies aren’t primarily intended to be scary! Otherwise, you wouldn’t classify horror comedies like “Shawn of the dead.”
A horror film centers on something that arouses repulsion or anguish.

Subgenres:

Slasher:


One person kills there one by one, a group of individuals, until the final confrontation.

Splatter Movies:


These are films that show physical mutilations and often theatrics to make them more impressive.

Found Footages:


Sub-genre which relates to the format, these are films that are not presented as productions, but as the event montage actually shot by the protagonists.

The New French Extremism:


These films have sexual assault and extreme violence in common, but they also deal with mental disorders that can go as far as delirium.

Kaiju Eiga:


Movies about gigantic creatures that attack the city. They are rarely horror movies because humans are often insignificant in them.

VI/ Science-Fiction:

Expectations:

Tone: Variable
Theme: Science, future, space, technology
Scenario: Variable
Target: Variable

Most common keywords:

  1. Scientist
  2. Explosion
  3. Psychotronic film
  4. Alien
  5. Outer space
  6. Hologram
  7. Future
  8. Surprise ending
  9. Laboratory
  10. Spaceship

Less common keywords:

  1. Based on true story
  2. Singing
  3. Husband wife relationship
  4. Marriage
  5. Horse
  6. Dancing
  7. Singer
  8. Telephone call
  9. Song
  10. Cigarette smoking

Description:


A sci-fi movie takes place in another reality and where things are not happening in ours. Science fiction differs from fantasy by providing more or less scientific explanations.
In Star Wars, ships, lightsabers and robots are science fiction, but strength is totally related to fantasy.

Space-Opera:


Epic tales highlighting the relationships between the characters in relatively detailed political universes against a backdrop of space travel.

Punk Movies:


Nothing to do with the music that smells of beer! They are futuristic or retro-futuristic films (which has to do with a way of imagining the future in the past).
Cyber punk a genre where computers and robotics are highlighted, as in “Matrix” or “Ghost in the Shell”,
steam punk is a genre where machines and industry are showcased: “Metropolis”, “The city of Lost Children” …
Biopunk, the living becomes an omnipresent technology: “eXistenz”, “Gattaca” …

Hard SF:


It is a genre of science fiction that only allows itself to extrapolate a future on the basis of solid science. The only fanciful elements are the elements that are new or that we do not know in our reality.

Soft SF:

When the explanations given contradict the laws of physics.
A lazer saber is impossible because the light is neither solid nor finite (so the sabers could not collide and the blade would have no end.)

Psychotronic Movies:


In 1980 Michael Weldon published a magazine “Psychotronic Video” in which he spoke about cinema, then in 1983 he released “The Psychotronic Encyvlopedia of Film”.
He gives a definition and a list of 3000 films, much of which does not correspond to the definition, but an IMDB user had the delicacy of writing a definition that was both sufficiently vague and precise enough to consider it valid. .

Psychotronic movies can be sci-fi, horror, or fantasy. These are films that think outside the box, that try to break free from conventions. Films that dare to be different: “Videodrome”, “Delicatessen”, “Solaris”.

VII/ Fantasy:

Expectations:

Tone: Epic, rather light
Theme: Magic, courage, nobility, good guys against bad guys …
Screenplay: Screenplay in three classic acts
Target: everyone

Most common keywords:

  1. Magic
  2. Surrealism
  3. Sword
  4. Supernatural power
  5. Good versus Evil
  6. Monster
  7. Sword fight
  8. Castle
  9. Transformation
  10. Lifting someone into the air

Less common keywords:

  1. Pistol
  2. Murder
  3. Shot to death
  4. Based on true story
  5. Machin gun
  6. Shot in the head
  7. Hellicopter
  8. Blood
  9. Shootout
  10. Hold at gunpoint

Description:


A film that takes place in another reality and where things are happening that are impossible in ours, without justification.
Not to be confused with the fantastic, a genre or the supernatural, the strange comes into the real world
Also not to be confused with the wonderful, kind or impossible things in the real world is quite normal there, like talking animals, without anyone asking questions.
Fantastic or Marvelous are part of Fantasy.

Urban Fantasy:


These are books or films that take place in a modern, contemporary world, in an urban setting, in which there are things that shouldn’t be: “Monsters & Cie”, “Detective Pikachu”…

Animal Fantasy:


A genre where animals behave like humans.

Swords & Sorcery Movies:


A genre where the hero will face evil sword in hand in violent adventures generally involving magic: “Never ending story”, “Sleeping beauty”, “krull” …

Historic Fantasy:


A genre that tells about past events by adding events from the past by adding a supernatural twist: “300”, “Pirates of the Carribean”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” …

Space Fantasy:


Stories that take place in space and have elements approaching fantasy.

VIII/ Drama

Expectations:

Tone: Heavy
Theme: Realism, difficult interpersonal relationships …
Scenario: Variable
Target: Adult

Most common keywords:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Telephone call
  3. Husband wife relationship
  4. Crying
  5. Money
  6. Mother son relationship
  7. Based on true story
  8. Restaurant
  9. Hospital
  10. Neo noir

Less common keywords:

  1. Psychotronic film
  2. Explosion
  3. Falling from heigt
  4. Good versus evil
  5. Martial arts
  6. Rescue
  7. Chase
  8. Hand to hand combat
  9. Battle
  10. Showdown

Description:


A catch-all genre if there is one, the drama genre includes all films that do not fall into any other box, but there is still a definition:
“These are films where interpersonal relationships are treated with gravity. “

Subgenres:

Melodramas:


Alternation of moments of immense happiness and immense moments of distress. “Titanic”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gone with the Wind” …

Survivals:


A big problematic event happens to the protagonist and he must survive: “The martian”, “The Revenant”, “127 hours”.

Epic Movies:


A genre that has disappeared a bit today. We talk about Epic when the film is grandiose, the symphonic soundtrack, the wide shots, the immense and magnificent sets… Yes today that describes all the American blockbusters.

Sports Movies:

A specific sport must be at the center of history. Young characters are lost until they take up sport. Draws at first, they end up facing stronger than them and bringing the cup home.

Coming of age Movies:


It’s about becoming an adult and leaving your childhood behind either: “Spider-man Far From Home”, “Four Hundred Blows”, “Carrie” …

IX/ Comedies:

Expectations:

Tone: Light
Theme: Inter relations
-personal, variable …
Scenario: Twist, happy ending …
Target: Everyone

Most common keywords:

  1. Slapsticks comedy
  2. Satire
  3. Friendship
  4. Party
  5. Scène during end credits
  6. Dancing
  7. Singing
  8. Black comedy
  9. Friend
  10. Restaurant

Less common keywords:

  1. Death
  2. Murder
  3. Blood
  4. Violence
  5. Corpse
  6. Surprise ending
  7. Shot to death
  8. Explosion
  9. Psychotronic film
  10. Blood splatter

Description:


The only genre that to my knowledge does not call for the tone, the theme, the scenario or its target to define itself, but calls for its intention to define itself: to make people laugh.

Parody:


It exaggerates certain features of an already established work in order to make people laugh.

Mockumentaries:


Fictions that take on the appearance of documentaries to tell anything. “Spinal Tap”, “I’m still here” …

Mockbusters:


A special category because the intention to make people laugh is not there, but we only look at them for fun.
These are films produced alongside the blockbusters but with a derisory budget: “Atlantic Rim”, “Triassic World”, “Transmorphers” …

Buddy Movies:


Two very different characters must come to terms with each other and discover that they can learn a lot from each other and even become friends.

X/ Romantic Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: Variable, often light
Theme: Love, marriage, family, couple …
Scenario: Misunderstandings and happy ending
Target: More women

Most common keywords:

  1. Kiss
  2. Wedding
  3. Dancing
  4. Marriage
  5. Male female relationship
  6. Love triangle
  7. Sex scene
  8. Indedelity
  9. Restaurant
  10. Family

Less common keywords:

  1. Murder
  2. Explosion
  3. Blood
  4. Surprise ending
  5. Shot to death
  6. Death
  7. Shot in the chest
  8. Pistol
  9. Psychotronic film
  10. Monster

Description:


Romantic movies are movies where love or romantic relationship is central to the storyline.

Subgenres:

Romcom:

High Resolution Print Ready PDF

Film about love while trying to make people laugh.

Chik Flick Movies:


Romantic film aimed at teenage girls.

Supernatural Romances:


Romance with a supernatural creature. “Dracula”, “Ghost”, “Warm Bodies” …

Gothic Romances:


Film which speaks of romance while dealing with death, life after death, ghost with a very heavy atmosphere.

Epic Romances:


A romance in an epic setting: “Moulin rouge”, “Australia”, “Titanic” …

Conclusion:

Well, the real reason why I wrote this article was mainly to talk about as many films as possible that generally made me feel good, sometimes bad, but which I think are in most cases , interesting to see at least once in his life for his film culture. Don’t hesitate to draw from the list, if you don’t know what to watch. 😉

We are all fragments


after an experience gone awry, Seth Brandle turns into a fly. And, as his body loses its integrity, which becomes something else, Seth Brandle constitutes the Seth Brandle Museum. A museum of spare parts, pieces of bodies that have bowed out. A museum entirely dedicated to what he was until then. Seth Brandle deconstructs himself to evolve while celebrating a past that is no longer just a fantasy.

The vestiges of him are still there so “He” is still there in a way, terrified that he is no longer himself. But what exactly is “Him”? Where is the Seth Brandle entity? In this ear? In this eye, his brain, his DNA? At what point in his transformation can we consider that this is it, we are facing something else? Total otherness, without a return ticket?

Is that when his human features disappear? Is it when he gives up his human morals in order to survive or does Brandle just boil down to remembering being himself? Seth Brandle is the experience that continually transforms us. An event, an accident, a meeting, the discovery of a work … Brandle is the illusion of what we think of as identity. We are fragments.


This Hook scene always broke my heart and for a long time I couldn’t quite say exactly why.

The children of Peter and Moïra come back from Never Land and throughout the film there was a strange relationship with memory. By becoming Peter Pan again, remembering what he was. The hero forgets for a moment that he has children, yet he is there to save. And as his son Jack lets himself be consumed by his resentment towards him, he even begins to forget that he has a father. And then this end. Returning to their room, the children, for a moment barely recognize their own mother. Yet it’s an ethereal, happy moment but it makes me sad. There is something oddly scary about this. Why do you think Jack’s voice is shaking despite his smile? This little detail touches me every time.

The film does not only capture this fear of losing loved ones, it captures this floating and cottony moment between sleep and waking up when for a moment, we are no longer ourselves. Where the memories that make us “Us” fade away. This moment when identity is more fragile than you thought.

Sincerely with the little girl who talks about her mother as an angel, this almost divine light, where even this sequence just after, euphoric to the point of absurdity where this woman enjoys seeing an old man flying instead of s ‘surprise or even be afraid.
Spielberg is well aware of this ambiguity.

Yes we are surely in a tale but also possibly elsewhere. An elsewhere much less easy to accept. For such a colorful film, there is still some sacred darkness lurking on the edge.

It’s so easy to forget

Memory loss

In a story, memory loss is perhaps one of the most worn-out story arcs but, strangely, also one of what affects us the most because it causes so much discomfort. particular. We can come out of it grown up, but we know it’s going to be a long time to pass.

Memory loss can symbolize a whole lot of things. The passage of time, just like becoming the ideal hiding place for a secret, but above all we touch on what seems to us a little too often to “who”, identity.


When you touch memory, you touch a fear that is very strange. This fear of thinking that if a memory is no longer shared with someone, what makes it real?
What made all “that” real?

Look at his movie posters, all of which represent “the spirit”. There is one idea that brings them all together. A very simple visual idea. The idea of Multiplicity.

Multiplicity

Multiplicity of memories, multiplicity of facets of the personality, blurred border of the psyche, unfathomable potential that overflows well beyond ourselves.
Visually, one way or another, this is what comes obvious to so many artists who represent the spirit.

There are many of us. The thing, however, is that the vast majority of works tend to show us this multiplicity as an evil, a disorder that leads the characters to either their demise or destruction. Pure tradition of Lovecraft with its protagonists who discover a cursed ancestry that lies dormant in them. Fiction illustrates again and again this fear that we have of losing our “me”, fear of seeing our identity dissolve and therefore all these sometimes simplistic concrete barriers to protect it.


Among the exceptions we can cite the fourth volume of the “Cycle of Dune” where the character of the emperor Letho II Atreide who gradually turns into a sand worm while possessing in his heart the memory and the personalities of all his ancestors.

This is a logic that we had already seen in the Cycle of Dune, in particular with the reverend mothers of the order of Bene Gesserite, but which there, is pushed to its climax with this relationship so particular to long time and to a kind of intimate immensity to be conquered. There the inner multiplicity is shown as an opening to something greater. Towards an extended consciousness of the world and of oneself.

Here, unlike memory loss, it is therefore a kind of “hyper memory” that questions the boundaries of identity, which is no longer a simple, closed whole, but rather a tree structure. The fear has been neutralized.
Over time has so oversold us characters built as cohesive units, oversold us assertiveness like a simplistic sign, that we ended up forgetting.
We are fragments.

Start the video at minute 2.

Brienne has mellowed over the seasons, of course, but she would never have cried. Not here, not like this, not for this. There you betray the sap, you betray the essence of something. But once again this essence, where exactly is it? What do we know?
We expect characters to be human and complex without being chaotic. And here we are, a walking paradox, clinging to what makes us “us”, while wanting “more”.

“Life is a cut up. Every time we walk down the street, or we look through the window, your consciousness is cut by random factors. And there you start to realize there aren’t that random, that it makes sense to you.” 

William S.Burroughs: 

Cut Up, this technique popularized in particular by the writer William Burroghs in the 1960s, which consists of cutting up a work and randomly rearranging the ends so that a new meaning emerges.

A technique that has inspired a lot of artists but also the whole internet culture, this culture of mashup and collage that you know so well.
Life is a Cut Up. Our experience of the outside world.

With Seth Brandle, who does a kind of Cut Up with his body, which becomes a new form of life, in accelerated mode, we are dealing with one of the deliberately extreme cases where the multiplicity which is in us is shown as negative.

That said, for a moment through his natural and scientific curiosity, Brandle is tempted to greet this transformation with serenity, without judgment. Very quickly, human fear takes over. As if there was, no matter what, an insurmountable frontier for the mind. We have to close the loop. However, there was the start of something, there was a tangent. As in the end of Hook, in the background we explore this “what if”.
Unfortunately, the two films do not really follow through on this idea. One because Spielberg, despite his doubts, has to make a feel good and accessible film. The other, by its horrific specifications. But what if becoming “other” wasn’t really the end of “self”?

Memories, that glue that gives shape to our fragments, that make our lives tell something.
We always tell of a change and inevitably we get hooked. We cling to our tastes, we cling to the stories that have built us, we cling to them as over a precipice, at the risk that sometimes it boils down to a simple road map of taste and opinions.

Life is a Cut Up. This article is a form of Cut Up. Fragments of emotion, fragment of memories, of thoughts. The fragments of films which, once taken out of context, begin to tell something quite different.
Editing means shuffling the cards, finding an unexpected meaning in the random.

Conclusion

In “The Fly” David Cronenberg and his director of photography lit up certain scenes like an old film noir. All the visual codes are there. The dim light of the blinds, the soft and ethereal lighting on the face of the femme fatale, a woman who stands out in the doorframe, who is therefore the center of attention but who is also lost in the frame, the only source of grace in a dirty and chaotic world. And of course a disillusioned main character, the unwilling detective Brandle investigating human identity. Fragment of one cinematographic genre lost in another.

Or how the film illustrates its point by becoming it self a Seth Brandle, and by showing that all films, at various levels, are Seth Brandles. Fragmented over and over and over again …
Maybe in the middle of it all, in the midst of this inevitably flawed, never-ending puzzle, something will resonate. We are multiple, we are fragments.

Personally I am never more stimulated, when I create something, when I have the impression that it is beyond my control, that strangely, it is not my conscious part which has acted but something more mysterious, something something freer, which is not necessarily the “me” that I know. For a few moments, we become a little more than the sum of our tastes or our memories.

We are more than an abstract line, like an arrow crossing the void.

We have become like everyone else, but in the way that no one can become like everyone else.

We painted the world on ourselves, and not ourselves on the world.

To create, to feel deep down, is to welcome the other.

Midnight Session n°5 : Pennywise

For some time there have been rumors on the net talking about a third future part for this incredible saga that is “It” by Stephen King so hoping that this one is verified I take this opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite horror characters: Pennywise!


It was in 1986 that Stephen King’s novel saw the light of day. A story about a group of children fighting against a demonic creature that has taken on the appearance of a clown in the small town of Derry.
Stephen King, as often in his novels, will incorporate personal memories and anecdotes from his own childhood.
“It” is a novel mixing past and present, following the children, who have become adults, having to confront again the creature that had terrorized them.
The book, a block of almost one thousand three hundred pages, was quickly adapted into a television movie. It was in 1990 that “It” landed on American televisions.

In this article, I’ll focus more on the creature itself than on the rest of the story.
The creature is a key character in the novel and a lot of gray areas persist about it so let’s lift the veil on some aspects of “It”.

The clown Named “It”, is also known as Pennywise in. It is a very old creature, a demonic being, which would even date, before the creation of the universe. It comes from a place called the Macro-verse, a world beyond our own. Arrived on Earth for millions of years, the creature has remained lurking in the shadows awaiting the arrival of humanity.
She waited and when the first inhabitants arrived on what would become the city of Derry, the creature set off on the hunt. Alternating moments of pure violence with periods of hibernation of 27 years.
We don’t know his original form, more often than not, “It” looks like a clown, a shape he uses as a trap in order to more easily catch children.
It is also explained to us that the fact of terrorizing its victims before devouring them, allows their flesh to taste better, like a little salt on a piece of barbaque.
The creature appears to have some control over the psyche of the people of Derry, many of the crimes against children were never solved, and the adults either forgot or remained unmoved by these events as if nothing had happened.

Who is he really?

The creature comes from another world beyond our universe. She arrived on our earth millions of years ago, patiently waiting for humans. Its true form is impossible for man to understand, it cannot materialize in our physical world, it is revealed in the form of a giant spider during the final fight, because this form is the only one that comes close to this that it really is.


This spider-like form is also the one chosen by the creature to fight the club of failures, because not being able to materialize the fear of each of the members, it needed a form representing a universal fear, capable of frightening everyone at the same time.

Its true form?

This spider-like form is also the one chosen by the creature to fight the club of failures, because not being able to materialize the fear of each of the members, it needed a form representing a universal fear, capable of frightening everyone at the same time.


“It” has a form made from orange light called dead lights. These lights are the creature’s best asset, because any human being who gazes into them will instantly lose their mental health. Only Bill, a member of the Loosers Club, will be able to see a glimpse of the dead lights through the eyes of the unseen creature. He will describe them as a gigantic, almost infinite, creeping entity made up entirely of orange lights.

Its transformations

The creature feeds on the fear of others. She is thus able to materialize each fear physically to frighten her victims before devouring them. In the TV movie, the creature can take on different appearances to terrify its prey, so we’ll see it take turns taking on the appearances of a familiar person, a werewolf, a mummy, but these are much more varied in the novel. We thus find there: the creature of “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, a pteranodon, leeches, a leper, the shark of “Jaws”, piranhas, Dracula or the witch of Hansel and Gretel.

The kids

The creature feeds on the fear of children, the latter being easier to frighten, the latter being more apt to believe in it, but the power of the imagination of the children as well as their innocence can also make them stronger in the face of “It”. Thus allowing the failure club to defeat him for the first time.

The coming of age will have quite an impact on them, their beliefs and their friendship will not be what it used to be. Their imagination will be diminished and 27 years later, when “It” returns, they will have to find their lost childhoods and find their complicity in order to defeat the creature once and for all.

A powerfull creature

In addition to being a shapeshifter, the creature can also create hallucinations so powerful that they are able to hurt their victims while being invisible to those unaware of its existence.
To this is also added:

  • telepathy
  • teleportation
  • telekinesis
  • mind control
  • time modulation.

“It” is therefore an extremely powerful entity.

His worst enemy

Outside of the loosers club, his worst enemy is a turtle named Maturin. Absent from TV movies and movies, this one comes from the same place as “It”. It is also said that this one is at the origin of our universe and unlike the clown, it is a benevolent entity. Like the ying and the yang these two creatures are at perpetual war with each other.

“It” and the turtle appear in other Stephen King novels such as “The Dark Tower” but the concept of Macro-verse is a bit confusing for those who haven’t read the novels. This may explain why the turtle was not used in the video adaptations of the story.

“It”, is he really dead? (appearances and references in King’s work).

  • “It” appears in the “Tommyknockers” novel, one of the characters claiming to have seen a clown in a manhole as he passed through Derry. In the film there are several references to the city of Derry.
  • Even more surprisingly, the VHS jackets of the 2 TV films are almost very similar
  • In the novel “Dreamcatcher” there is also a reference to graffiti on a wall saying “Pennywise is alive”.
  • In the short story “Gray Matter” from the collection “Danse Macabre”, reference is made to a man working in the sewers of Bangor, who one day came out totally frightened, referring to a white light.
  • The story of the novel “Insomnia” also takes place in the city of Derry.

With all his clues, is it possible that Stephen King would imply that “It” would still be alive, hibernating somewhere? Will he ever come back to wreak havoc in our world?

The meaning of “The Lord of The Rings”!

We are our elsewhere.
We create universes because we don’t like the world as it is and sometimes scares us.

William Blanc

No one can face “The Lord of The Rings”. We can love, we can hate, but nothing beats “The Lord of The Rings”.
Calling Tolkien the father of fantasy is questionable (or even false), but he remains a luminary. It’s hard to escape its influence, whether in literature, cinema, role-playing, video games … in short, the collective imagination.


Suddenly we’d be wondering, seeing as his stories are so important in the end, what are they really telling? These stories of legendary magicians, ancestral forces and their countless humanoid characters with the names of medicines, what can they mean?
Is it just cool? It’s epic, it’s dreamy and it’s beautiful like anything… So there you go?
Isn’t it possible that this other world is actually ours?

An allegory of world war II?

That seems to bother a lot of people for quite a while. And it must be said that when digging, there is plenty to ask questions.
No, but it’s true! A book that came out in 1954, which talks about a great war involving almost all of all nations, in a world that more or less resembles medieval Europe.


A threat already defeated in the past comes to us from the east, which is about to relentlessly invade the western kingdoms. A comeback that many refused to see return, allowing it to gain strength before becoming inevitable.!
Some take the ocean to find a country further west.
Some former allies give in to the influence of the unstoppable enemy and collaborate with it, to assert their own authority.
The peoples must unite to fight the AXIS of evil.
And in the midst of all this a fight for an immeasurable object of power, which must not fall into the wrong hands at all costs … A power so absolute and so terrifying that many people refuse to use it even if it would guarantee them victory.

Do you see my big allegory?

We have to admit that with all its coincidences, the parallel with World War II works surprisingly well.
So that would be the meaning of the Lord of the Rings? Oh, if only it was that simple! But we haven’t released The Prancing Pony yet.


So indeed we can see the Lord of the Rings as a sort of Second World War, redrawn on tracing paper of heroic fantasy. But as much as we can marvel where it overlaps quite well, but we must question the overall design.

The real war does not resemble to the legendary war in its process or in its conclusion. 
If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, and certainly the ring would have been sees and used again Sauron. It wouldn’t be annihilated but enslaved. And Barad-dûr would not to be destroyed but occupied.
In that conflict, both side would have held Hobbit in hate-hood an contempt. They would not long survive even enslaves.

J.R.R. Tolkien

But would there be a metaphor or a symbol?

I must quite frankly express my profound but polite negation of your clever and neverless somewhat false assumption my dear. And if you excuse me I’m now going to Brexit this conversation.

j.r.r. tolkien

Answer which I think is the way the British say ‘nope’.
And don’t bother looking for another metaphor if it’s not World War II, as he adds:

I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence

J.R.R. Tolkien

The end ?

No, but what does that mean: “I don’t like allegories …”?
We’re here to analyze stuff when in fact it would just be a story? A headless story that has nothing to do with us and our world?
Would he have cut all ties with reality, precisely to allow us to escape to an elsewhere, another world?
Well yeah, because life is a bitch, God is dead and we’re gonna be soon, and then nothing makes sense and Henry Cavill already has a girlfriend and I forgot to buy Nutella.
From the cost, our need for consolation is impossible to satisfy and that sucks.

From this perspective, we would say that the less it reminds us of our world, the more this quest is accomplished. So when we want to forget our daily worries, it is not so that we are reminded of the fucking World War II, especially when your daily worry was the fucking WWII, no later than ‘yesterday!
Tolkien assumed escape as a function of fairy tales, for example. On the other hand, think again, he also said:

Escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter.

J.R.R. tolkien

If you trade your worries for a road-trip in Middle-earth, I’m not sure you won the day. Even admitting that the anxieties that haunt you are more existential than your bills or your boss overwhelming you with unstable overtime, is The Lord of the Rings really the best plan to help you avoid thinking about death. , suffering or your responsibilities?
In short, Tolkien’s tales, indeed, offers you an unexpected journey into a distant horizon, but it is no picnic. If what you’re looking for is anesthetizing yourself with his books, you’ll get the better of hitting yourself with them.

Tolkien did not conceive his stories to cocoon us and on the contrary to immerse us in tragic events whose protagonists never seem to be able to triumph before an unexpected salvation. A resolution he called “eucatastrophe”, a good catastrophe of which he took as a “real” example, the incarnation of Jesus. It’s a bit like Don Bluth’s cartoons, who instead of sparing toddlers, tormented them as much as possible so that the resolve was only more powerful.
The idea shared by both men is that a ray of hope shines even more as one has walked through the darkest darkness. Surely an idea rooted in their religious faith.

In the same way these critics, to make confusion worse, and so to bring into contempt their opponents, stick their label of scorn not only on to Desertion, but on to real Escape, and what are often its companions, Disgust, Anger, Condemnation, and Revolt.

J.R.r. tolkien

Tolkien does claim an escape process, not thought of as an escape but as a fervent desire for something else.

And, does “The Lord of The Rings” have anything to do with WWI?

It should also be noted that Tolkien may not have fought in WWII, but he did go through hell in the first. Sleeping in the trenches for a year is enough to cause some nightmares. The influence of this experience in Tolkien’s writings is quite evident and documented.
His first text located in the Middle Lands, “Fall of gondolin” was written during his convalescence after having contracted a “trench fever”. He recounts in particular, the destruction of an ancient elven civilization by an enemy, described as relentless machines.

So in looking for our allegory we would have been wrong opus? These were all WWI metaphors? But is Tolkien saying that allegory is not his cup of tea?


Maybe we’re just asking ourselves the wrong questions. Again even though “the Fall of Gondolin” was written during his recovery from what he experienced in the trenches, that doesn’t make it an allegory. . But that does not mean that one cannot deny the influence of his experience in the Somme. Trauma like this changes you a man on a fundamental level, even though an author might not realize it, or even deny it.
Tolkien does not say otherwise.


The first world war had a broad and specific impact on Tolkien’s writing. One you look the Tolkien’s writing in the first world war in detail, you can be struck by all kinds of really curious comparisons. One Interesting I found is between, the ring’s wraiths, the Nazguls and artillery shells, sound of artillery shells.


John Garth Autor of « Tolkien and the Great War »

So i think these terrors are connected completely to a mythological and Gothic I think Tolkien wanted to use in the Lord Of The Rings.

Jon garth

An author, can not of course remain holy unaffected by his experience but the ways in witch the story germ use the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidences that is inadequate and ambiguous.

J.R.R. Tolkien

In fact this is something that we often get confused about, you know, like in college when we laughed when the teacher said:
“The chair is blue, it represents melancholy” …
And that we all thought (yes even you over there who pretend you weren’t):
“Yes, if that’s right, the author just meant that the chair is blue! “…

Allegory or not allegory?

Well, we must already understand that writing is not a 100% conscious process. It’s not like coding a message in HTML.
Even being in control of what we are doing, there is not an exact science of evocative power and we do not copy / paste meaning into people’s heads.


in an interview for the release of “Close Encounter of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg realized this:

– It is one of your famous scene in all of your movies I’m sure. Now look, I don’t mean to make to much of this but I’ll ask you a question.


– Your father was a computer scientist, your mother was a musician, when this spaceship was landing, How do they communicate ?


– That is a very good question, I like that. The answer is on the question.


-They make music on their computers and they are able to speak to each other.


– You see I’d love to say you, I intended that but you know, I realize that was my mother and my father was not until this moment !

Just as it is no wonder that Frodo’s feverish scenes came to the mind of someone who suffered the fever in the trenches. The same Frodo that he will see come out of such events with something akin to post traumatic stress disorder.

Moreover, some of the parallels that we had drawn with the Second World War also work with the first, because there is no need to look for more or less hidden metaphors to say that an author English of this period will have imagined a more “Europeanizing” imitation Middle Ages where the protagonists tend to start from the West, while the threat will instinctively be more represented in the East.

Even at more abstract levels, the context experienced by the same author will no doubt have facilitated his vision of men as corruptible and the leaders of their nations as having fallen into the camp of evil, especially from those who write:

Gentleman are not existent among our superiors. And even the human beings are rare indeed

J.R.R. tolkien

There is no need to see it as a metaphor, and just because it isn’t one doesn’t mean it hasn’t to do with it. We write where we are from.
What we do with a metaphor is take an image to represent something else.

An allegory is a bit the same but on the scale of a whole story. A bit like a system of coherent metaphors.

Something that is used in painting for example. Very convenient process for graphically representing abstract ideas that have no shapes.

Example, how to paint justice?
in general it is represented:

Lady Justice statue in law office. Figurine with blindfold, balance and sword is personification of moral force in judicial system and it’s origin is Lustitia, goddess of Justice in Roman mythology
  • A blindfolded woman, because justice is blind, impartial;
  • She has a scale in her left hand to weigh the acts;
  • She has a sword to punish.

So, on the other hand, it implies having decryption keys to understand the work, but once everyone has them, this representation becomes universal. This is the basis of press cartoon.

Allegory applied to a story is called a fable. The ant is the hardworking person and the grasshopper a hippie who does not give a fuck.
And you have to understand the symbols in a fable to understand its moral.
In other cases, religious parables serve the same purpose.
This is why some scholars spend their time studying the same book for years to make exegesis according to a doctrine etc.

I much prefer history – true or fiend – with it varied applicability to the thought and experiences of readers.
I think there is many confuse « applicability » with « allegory ».
But the one resides in the freedom of the reader and the other in the purpose domination of the author.

J.R.R.Tolkien

This is where Tolkien puts his finger on something when it comes to applicability or relevance.
Stories, good stories have a relevance to themes, emotions, values etc. They operate in a secondary world, which must have its own coherence, which cannot be copied as is on our own.

Take Robert Zemeckis’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. The “Toons” are second-class citizens there, who are used in entertainment, especially cinema and who must live apart.
Here the club is based on the Cotton Club, where African Americans came to do service or show numbers, but entry was reserved for whites. In the film, the “Toons” do the show for an exclusively human clientele.
In this case the “Toons” are an allegory of black people?

Yes, but the film is also inspired by the period when homosexuals worked in show biz and in Hollywood, where they were sidelined but more or less covered.

So, is this an allegory of blacks people or of homosexuals?

Well both and both neither, and other stuff …
Being in a secondary world doesn’t stop the stories from hitting the mark, on a level that doesn’t depend on the very contextual stuff of our reality.
For what we call “imaginary literature”, science fiction and fantasy, we also speak of speculative literature. It is precisely this speculative aspect which makes it possible to evoke more fundamental things since it explores possible “other” than our history, our society, our current events … etc, including when it is not intentional, contrary to Roger Rabbit where it is very clear.


Often Winnie the Pooh is presented as an allegory of mental disorders:

  • Piglet is anxiety,
  • Tiger, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
  • Eeyore, depression
  • Winnie, he’s having addiction issues and eating disorders.

You can imagine it but it is not at all the perspective of the author, and it would even be anachronistic to imagine that, but for all that it works very well, so much so that we find this allegory in scientific publications.
The author characterized his characters in a certain way and he typed it right. They conjure up pretty relevant stuff without needing to voluntarily adapt a list of shrink categories, which weren’t even theorized yet.

In this case, unlike pure allegory, there is no need for interpretation keys to understand the meaning.
Especially since, as Tolkien said, with his freedom of the reader in the face of author’s dominance, it’s going to make sense, including person-to-person or period-to-period making the story more accessible and timeless.

A story for “Hippie”?

To come back to “Lord of The Rings”, for example, this story has turned a lot in the hippie generation, people in all points dissimilar to the author and who yet is reflected in his work.
Because at some point, once he lets go of the result of his work, however manic he is, in nature, he no longer has control over who it is going to touch.

Magic, an ethereal story, even if it was written by a conservative Catholic, it evokes a kind of “neo-pagan-mytholo-ancestral” mysticism and that speaks to them. And this counter culture, has contributed to perpetuate the success of books and to pass the torch.
If this generation is found in the works of an easy British father born at the end of the 19th century, it is not just because of the drugs!

A tale for “Aristocrat”?

It could not be clearer, in many ways that Tolkien can easily be described as a conservative, with omnipresence of his religious sensibility, his “epically” Wagnerian tone, his call to an imaginary of glorious kings and his categories with rather racialist springs, it is expected that this will touch the fiber of some people nostalgic for an old fantasy time. Especially since his middle age doesn’t pretend to be fantasized.
The distinctly reactionary and dated aspects of his prose have been rightly noted by other more “socialist” fantasy authors.

The stories are structured by moralist and abstract logic rather than being grounded and organic.
Tolkien wrote the seminal text for fantasy where morality is absolute, and political complexity is conveniently evaporate.


• Battles are glorious and death is noble.
The good looks superb and the evil are ugly.
Elves are natural aristos
• Hobbits are good people
• And in a fairyland version of genetic determinism, Orcs are shit by birth.


This is a conservator hymn to order and reason, to the status quo.

China Mieville

How can both a “Hippie” and an “Aristocrat” be drawn to Tolkien’s work? Did either of them get it wrong?
But come to think of it, is it really so surprising that activists have been touched by “The Lord of The Rings” even though its author would have been foreign to modern environmentalist categories?

Was Tolkien that conservative?

It should be noted that tackling Tolkien as a caricatured straw man of conservatism does not shed a very useful light on the themes he addresses, just like the 1970s counterculture with which he resonated is not a monolith. Indeed, it goes from the radical environmental activist anti Vietnam war to the “neo-payan” new age of a random sect whose heritage will be found as much in the libertarian billionaires of the silicone valley fan of Ayn Rand as in the serial killer to swastika tattooed on the forehead, or in geek culture itself. Even Greenpeace has been able to invoke “The Lord of The Rings” for anti-nuclear campaigns.


Fantasy has always carried a critique of industrial modernity, organic to its recourse to a legendary past. In the same vein, one of the forerunners of the genre, and other medieval enthusiasts, who influenced Tolkien is William Morris, a libertarian socialist writer who defends the environment.
Although expressed from different angles, they have this distrust in common.

In “The Lord of The Rings” the protagonists are, I’m not spoiling you anything, the Hobbits. And by far the characters to whom Tolkien sympathizes.


Their entire civilization resembles a shorter legged version of the traditional English countryside, where they spend their time living their best life, namely smoking their pipe filled with ‘pipe-weed’ whose effects resemble cannabis, eating well, without working too much and without worrying about many things except the family who steal the silverware.

Then like Tolkien at the time of his departure for the war, there they are catapulted, from their island of peace, into a vast world with stakes beyond them. Here they are confronted with a universe of which they are a part whatever their efforts to ignore it. War, evil, corruption, and the forces involved, as diverse as they are difficult to reconcile.
The heavy toll to pay for trading his quiet life for adventure.

In contrast, to the peaceful way of life which is admittedly a little naive but very sympathetic to the “brave country folks” of The Shire, horror arises from modernity:

Saruman: Together, my lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc.

Tolkien deeply hates this industrial world which he discovered with dread in the First Industrialized War, but also in the toiling towns which tore him from his countryside to pursue his studies. This industrial modernity dirties nature and alienates men. Its armadas of orcs are in fact elves who have been tortured and enslaved. To the working masses stupefied by labor, he prefers the fantasy of “good common English folks” to ambitions and simple values.

Because if the hobbits are a recourse in this globalized world, it is precisely because they are not tempted by it. For Tolkien, they carry with them, naturally superior virtues to yet much more powerful magicians and other hundred-year-old elves, precisely too powerful to use the ring without putting all things at great risk.

A fascination with supposedly intrinsic values of the real simple people of the real simple life, which could be invoked as much by dictatorships, the France of Vichy, Franco, Mussolini … as in a diametrically opposed way a socialist like Orwell , which postulated the “common decency”, a kind of common sense inherent in the popular classes, that their way of life would make naturally good, simple, united and immune to the misappropriation of the powerful.

Because if the hobbits are a recourse in this globalized world, it is precisely because they are not tempted by it. For Tolkien, they carry with them, naturally superior virtues to yet much more powerful magicians and other hundred-year-old elves, precisely too powerful to use the ring without putting all things at great risk.
A fascination with supposedly intrinsic values of the real simple people of the real simple life, which could be invoked as much by dictatorships, the France of Vichy, Franco, Mussolini … as in a diametrically opposed way a socialist like Orwell , which postulated the “common decency”, a kind of common sense inherent in the popular classes, that their way of life would make naturally good, simple, united and immune to the misappropriation of the powerful.

This ordinary decency is not only innate, it is due to social conditions which are degraded, metamorphosed by the age of technology, triumphant capitalism and totalitarianism.
And indeed, people can no longer cultivate this ordinary decency in this world.

Bruce Bégout

Ultimately and in the final analysis, if Tolkien had no sympathy for the socializing or progressive ideologies of his time either, it is also in the name of his distrust of modernity, industry and progress, precisely, which there were associated. Moreover, if Tolkien relies on an epic register inherited from legends, to high moments of bravery he adds the darkness and the tragic of conflicts. As we recall, his visions come out of the mind of a survivor of a dirty war, which has confirmed him in the idea of the benefits of a quieter way of life.

So yes, if the evocation of great heroes with pure blood can make vibrate nostalgic for the crusades, a force capable of attracting anti-militarists emerges just as much from “The Lord of The Rings”.
So from “Aristocrat” to “Hippie”, the two find their account, only it is not the same.

Tolkien and his vision of Power


Even in a subject like power, “The Lord of The Rings” brings many other themes to which would not be limited to the sole recourse to a monarchist imagination full of dynasties of wise aristocrats and blood rights which naturally makes enlightened despots even 15 generations later.

My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy
(philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)
– or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people.

J.R.R. tolkien

This is sort of the central theme, the ring, of power. Because in “The Lord of The RINGS”, power is a bit of a shit.
A power in the very general sense embodied in a shining charm, with the thematic density similar to inspiring a totalitarian regime, the wealth of a PRECIOUS treasure or the power to do good, in short any form of power imaginable.
The ring, on the other hand, seems obvious from its name alone to be a pure metaphor for power, but even it is insignificant, hollow, since it symbolizes all powers and none in particular. With Tolkien, there is no virtuous pursuit of power. Power must be destroyed.

There is only one bright spot and that is the growing habit of disgruntled men of dynamiting factories and power stations. I hope that, encouraged now as patriotism, may remain a habit. But it wont do any good if it is not universal.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The fundamental evil in “The Lord of The Rings”, despite its use of racial notions and its “legitimist” discourses, is not a person or a group of people! It is a disembodied notion.
For Tolkien, it’s not so much the ring that matters, but what it brings out in people.
The ring is a Rorschach test, everyone finds what they want in it and it is one of Tolkien’s great strengths. Although his tale takes place in an imaginary Middle Earth populated by elves, orcs, and other unlikely creatures, he tells us about us, us, men, all of which we run after.
The ring can be money, love, fame …
And in the end Sauron has no body because deep down, Sauron is all we want.

So no wonder that beyond his imagination of old school kingdoms, Tolkien’s apology for small communities to diffuse governance coupled with a passionate love, solidarity, camaraderie and brotherhood, which may come to him. powerful links forged in his student club, can also seduce a public not fond of his royalist icons. They were reactionary icons whose approach he had in fact quite consistent with his vision of power.

Not one in a million is fit for it and least of all of those who seek the opportunity. Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you care to call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers. And so on down the line. But, of course, the fatal weakness of all that – after all only the fatal weakness of all good natural things in a bad corrupt unnatural world – is that it works and has worked only when all the world is messing along in the same good old inefficient human way.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Postulating for nothing except tranquility, and sovereignty yet capable of rising against the yoke of Sarouman with his companions whom Tolkien attributed to escape, disgust, anger, condemnation and revolt.

“The Lord of The Rings” is not an allegory of World War II, not even the first that its author experienced. Neither is it an allegory of the good times of monarchies, nor of libertarian communism or reactionary conservatism, or of radical ecologism, of racialist hierarchies or of international solidarity, which does not prevent that he carries all of that inside him.

Like any work that has a lot of meaning, it doesn’t have just one, it is polysemous.
Entire generations have seized upon it with a wide variety of issues and problems. You also got hold of it when you read it, discussed it and brought it to life. And this is the case even if you’ve never read it because it is so present in our common imaginations. When Peter Jackson took on the titanic task of fitting it to the screen, so did he, in his own way. By making choices that you liked or that you did not like that necessarily went one way or another, a meaning he wanted to give to it all.
Like that old man at a dinner in Rotterdam in 1958 who used this imaginary world to describe in his own words the world he did live in.

I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron; but I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentle hobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.

J.R.R. Tolkien

This man was the same Tolkien who refused to see his work as an allegory, which did not prevent him from making parallels when it struck him, when it seemed to apply, to be relevant. It may even be precisely this lack of allegory that allows it. So why go without?

Remember China Mieville cited above dunking on “The Lord of The Rings” as a clean evil? Well he also said this:

The literary establishment’s incoherent critique combines snobbish disdain for popular culture with an historical philistinism. And there is a left variant of this dismissal, seeing the fantastic as decadent or socially irresponsible.
Tolkien refuses that the notion that a work of fiction is, in some reductive way primary, or solely or really, about something else, knowly and precisely, that the work of the reader is one of code breaking. Only if we find the right key we can perform an hermeneutic algorithm and solve the book.
This is not a plea for naivety, for evading ramification or analysis, for some impossible and pointless return to « just a story »

China Mieville

Because like any story, “The Lord of The Rings” does not mean nothing, does not talk about nothing …
I don’t know the “Meaning” of “The Lord of The Rings”, and neither do you, but I hope you find this story meaningful too.

Sources (not exhaustive):