Bright reds, blues and golds. This is how the saga defines the uniforms of the Starfleet crew in the “Star Trek” series in 1966. We owe them to costume designer William Ware Theiss, responsible for interpreting the vision of the United Federation of Planets by Gene Roddenberry , the creator of the series. “Roddenberry wanted the clothes to be simple, with no pockets,” explain Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, authors of “Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier” (Insight Editions).
“Roddenberry wanted to limit parallels with the military, since the operation of the ship in the series was only partially military”
“As a result, Theiss designed Starfleet uniforms as non-military looking garments, consisting of a simple tunic, a pair of boots and tight black trousers. A small gold stripe on the sleeves denotes the rank and color of the uniform indicates the service assigned to each member of the crew.”
“The colors for these uniforms were chosen for purely technical reasons. Theiss and the producers wanted to find three colors that would be different enough from each other to be distinguished on black-and-white screens (which were still used in many homes ), but also colors bright enough for newer color TVs.”
“Theiss chooses blue (for science personnel), red (engineering and general services) and green (command). Lime, to be exact – not gold, as many people think, adds Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. The command color appeared golden due to the lighting chosen during filming and the type of film stock used.” Note that wearing a red sweater does not bode well. The redshirts become an archetype, that of the character parachuted into a series and who dies quickly.
The women have a uniform that differs, as the two experts point out: “Initially, they also wore pants, but after the two pilots of the series, they were imposed mini-skirts, which becomes the signature of Lieutenant Uhura .”
When “Star Trek” arrived in theaters in 1979, the costumes imagined a decade earlier did not follow. As Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann explain, “The film’s producers wanted the new uniforms to appear ‘logical’ to viewers, to be clothes people could live and work in effectively. According to them, the new ‘Star Trek’ had to sound more ‘scientific’ than ‘science fiction'”.
Robert Wise, the director, also has his say:
“He found the old colors to be garish and disturbing. Wise wanted the audience to focus on the characters’ faces and their emotions rather than their outfits.”
Costume designer Robert Fletcher therefore reviewed the entire range of costumes, with a palette of popular colors at the time: light gray, pale blue, beige and brown. “The only detail that reveals a crew member’s service is the background color of the patch with the insignia. The patches are round, with the famous arrow symbol superimposed. The color of the circle represents each member’s service crew: white for command, red for engineering, green for medical, orange for science, gray for security and pale gold for operations”, specify the two authors.
Everyone on the “Enterprise” is forced to wear unflattering tight-fitting jumpsuits, with, moreover, pants that integrate the shoes in one piece.
“Fletcher will quickly realize that these costumes are both difficult to make and to make the actors wear, explain Block and Erdmann. In addition, the public makes fun of them, comparing them to onesies for children.”
Robert Fletcher, who has not said his last word, will therefore review his copy for the following three films (“Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan”, 1982, “Star Trek 3: In Search of Spock”, 1984 , and “Star Trek 4: Return to Earth”, 1986).
“The burgundy uniforms he designed for ‘Wrath of Khan’ suggest an influence from Hollywood’s Golden Age marine-themed films, such as ‘Prisoner of Zenda’ or ‘Captain Fearless’ – which were among Gene Roddenberry’s favorite movies, decipher Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. The burgundy uniforms were a hit. Everyone – producers, actors and fans – loved them and still love them.”
Back to basics
“For ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ (1987-1994), William Ware Theiss returns as costume designer and takes up his idea of having the upper part of the uniform reflect the service of each crew member, continue Block and Erdmann. The lower part and the sides are black – which makes the uniforms elegant, with the added benefit of making the actors appear slim. Theiss chooses original shades of colors that he finds flattering: wine red , duck blue and, for contrast, mustard yellow.”
Small inconvenience all the same: as the costume designer Robert Blackman tells it, when he arrives at the third season, he finds costumes… which stink. In question, the elastane, so eighties, that Roddenberry had decreed “material of the future”. Very uncomfortable, it underlines all the faults and creases, which will give rise to a tic well known to fans: the “Picard Maneuver”, where we see Patrick Stewart, who plays captain Jean-Luc Picard, continually shoot at his pullover. Blackman therefore replaces elastane with wool gabardine and adds a mandarin collar.
“When Robert Blackman designs new costumes for ‘Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Voyager’, he retains Theiss’ color scheme, although his uniforms are less form-fitting, making them more functional and more comfortable for the actors,” trace Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
As for the navy blue suits used in “Enterprise”, which takes place in an era before the other series, they “had to give the impression that they had evolved directly from the suits dedicated to the space missions of NASA personnel”.
The return of the miniskirt
“For more recent films, starting with J.J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ in 2009, costume designer Michael Kaplan wanted to keep the uniforms in the tradition of the original 1966 series. But he also wanted to reinterpret them, make them more It kept the colors red, blue and gold. Then it incorporated small Starfleet insignia. The design is tiny, almost subliminal, so the public may not notice it.”
With J.J. Abrams, the mini-dress is back, a controversial subject if ever there was one. In the first series, Uhura wears a mini-skirt, unlike her male colleagues, which has been widely accused of sexism, even though the saga aims to be feminist and egalitarian. Fans then imagine a theory: all “Star Trek” uniforms are unisex! This is corroborated by scenes from “New Generation”, where men wear the mini-dress, or “skant” (skirt + pant). There are, of course, only extras who wear them, never a leading male character.
For “Star Trek: Without Limits” (released on August 17), Justin Lin recruits a new costume designer: Sanja Hays. “She chose to eliminate the arrow motif and used a heavier material for the uniforms, note Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. The women’s uniform, always a dress, has long sleeves with a band around the wrist to mark rank, which the old short-sleeved dress did not have.”
“Through all these changes, there is something intangible in these clothes that are unmistakably identified as Starfleet uniforms, conclude Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. Perhaps this familiarity comes from the fact that each costume designer has drawn on the work of his or her predecessor. The line of a hem may change, but it reflects the lines that came before it. They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This goes for the ‘Star Trek’ uniform.”
The proof, at the end of “Star Trek: No Limits” (warning spoilers), Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) is offered to join Starfleet. She has only one question: “Should I wear the uniform?”
Today I wanted to talk to you about an old film and to be old it is old since this year it will celebrate its 101 years. Well, as you read the title you already know that I am talking about Metropolis.
If you haven’t seen it yet or want to see it again, I’ll post it to you at the very end of this article.
It is a film which has left its mark on the cinema until today and yet even if today it is considered an absolute masterpiece, it was in its time a critical and commercial failure. In this article I will explain why.
From Caligari to Hitler, Siegfried Kracauer :
“Maria’s proposition that the heart should mediate between the hand and the brain could have been formulated by Goebbels as well. He too appealed to the heart for the purposes of his totalitarian propaganda.”
German cinema has had two great golden ages in its history. There was the New German cinema which goes from the 60s until the beginning of the 80s, but it was also entitled to a very prolific cinema during the 20s, that is to say under the Weimar Republic. Germany suffered a terrible defeat in the First World War, but its cinema was not greatly affected by the sanctions. On the contrary, it becomes one of the hubs of the seventh art.
And it was during this period that a new film was released, a founding work in the history of cinema. If today it is unanimous among critics and historians, Metropolis was a disaster both in terms of criticism and its profitability. The work has led to intense debates starting with its ideological message. Marxist film for some, fascist for others, what is it really?
Fritz Lang is considered one of the most important directors of German and even world cinema. Born in 1890 in Vienna in Austria-Hungary, he went to Germany in 1910 to study art. It was after a stay in Paris that he decided to embark on the cinematographic adventure after having attended the screening of a film by Louis Feuillade.
His directing career really took off after the First World War. In 1919 his first film La Métisse was released. Will follow after a number of diverse and varied films from fantasy (The Three Lights) to espionage (Les Espions) through science fiction (La Femme sur la Lune). During this period, despite the defeat, Germany is one of the main artistic capitals of the European continent. Paradoxically, if Germany is severely sanctioned by the victors of the First World War, German cinema is very prolific under the Weimar Republic. It sees the birth of most of the most talented filmmakers and actors that the seventh art has known: Ernst Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Marlène Dietrich, Friedrich Murnau, Emil Jannings or even Georg Wilhelm Pabst. In 1926, Fritz Lang embarked on the production of what is considered one of the most important films of his career, Metropolis. To compete with Hollywood productions, the UFA had a gigantic 2,200 m2 set built in the Babelsberg studios in Potsdam for the filming of this science fiction film.
It is difficult to know where it should be classified in the artistic movements of the time. Very often, we tend to link it to expressionism.
German expressionism, I had already spoken about it in two of my articles (here and there), is a movement which is characterized in particular by its very aesthetic use of shadow and light, exploration of themes such as madness, paranoia, anguish, double. Some of these characteristics are found in Metropolis. The theme of the double and the duality between good and evil is represented by the character of Maria and Rotwang’s Android, having taken on the features of a woman. There is also a very pronounced use of lighting and shadows, particularly in the chase scene between Maria and Rotwang in the city’s catacombs. But to label Lang’s work as expressionist would be going a bit too fast because he never accepted that such a label was imposed on him. Francis Courtade said of him:
“Lang has always denied having been an expressionist. We can understand it: a true creator does not like labels and on the other hand, Lang only made a film that can be fully qualified as expressionist. But expressionism, consciously or not, marked him”
In fact, Metropolis draws a little from three of the main artistic movements of the time: Expressionism, New Objectivity and Futurism.
The New Objectivity is characterized by a certain realism. The goal being essentially to socially denounce the living conditions of the working class, to criticize the bureaucracy and the political elite… It is difficult not to see the “Neue Sachlichkeit” character of Metropolis.
As for futurism, it is an artistic movement that appeared in Italy in 1909. The leader was called Filippo Marinetti. Futurists exalt technological progress and its triumph, industrialized cities, violence… There too, the influence is very clear. Metropolis is a film set in a futuristic city where technology is everywhere.
Joh Fredersen, the master of Metropolis and Freder’s father, plots alongside Rotwang, a mad scientist, to stop the workers’ whims. He hopes to rely on Rotwang’s new creation, a robot. Joh asks the mad scientist to kidnap Maria so that his machine can take on his form and thus maintain his hold on the workers. Rotwang has other ideas in mind. Admittedly, he kidnaps the girl but will use his robot to cause a new revolution and overthrow Fredersen.
As we said, Fritz Lang drew a lot of inspiration from Futurism in the staging of Metropolis. It is true that we find the themes of machines and technological progress. But unlike the latter, the German director has a very different vision on this subject.
Let’s start at the beginning, we have a futuristic city. To make it work, you have to make the machines work. In this case, it requires a workforce, a proletariat, those whose only thing is their labor power. They are alienated by their work. What is the first scene where we see the proletarians in the film? They appear for the first time at the time of the relief, that is to say the change of team for the maintenance of the machines of the city.
Workers are an integral part of this vast machinery. They are one with her. When you see them for the first time, their gait is completely mechanical. These individuals are no longer living beings, they are cogs, objects. They are replaceable, when one of them falls ill, asphyxiated by the steam from the machines.
Technological progress would not have made it possible to improve the lot and the human condition. All life has disappeared in these human bodies. They now serve as food for their own instruments of work. The machines become deities serving body and soul their new masters. Workers are sacrificed in the manner of pagan rituals. These human beings are now machines, one with the rest of the architecture and these different mechanical components.
Conversely, the world of the wealthy is a real paradise. Technology has led to the improvement of the living comfort of part of the population, the ruling class of the city. As for the children, they have fun in the vast gardens alongside the young girls, play sports…
From the first scenes of the film, Fritz Lang builds an opposition, a duality between two worlds, something very usual in an expressionist cinema. When the world of the bourgeois lives in light and greenery, that of the proletarians is a world of darkness, catacombs and underground passages.
Lang raises the question of our relationship to modernity and technological progress. The word “Metropolis” can literally be translated as mother city. Its function would be to protect, to ensure the safety and comfort of its inhabitants. Is this really the case? We have seen that no. The workers are unhappy, alienated by the machines of the city. Worse still, the haves and the proletarians are unable to communicate with each other. The dictator Fredersen turns a blind eye to what the working populations are going through. Metropolis is a dead city. She is in agony. This so-called “technological progress” actually leads to the separation and isolation of social classes. How to fix it in this case? We see very clearly in the film an opposition between paganism and Christianity.
When Freder goes for the first time to the underworld of the city, the machines transform before his eyes into a terrible pagan deity, Moloch. Quoted in the Bible, Moloch was best known for his rites which consisted of sacrificing children in the fire. Rotwang too, although scholarly, is much more like some kind of wizard. Behind his robot, we can see a pentacle. He would therefore appeal to supernatural and occult forces. Of course, the most important being the legend of the Tower of Babel evoked by Maria in the middle of the film. Let’s take a closer look at this legend. The Tower of Babel was within the will of men to touch the sky. This technical prowess greatly displeased God who decided to scramble their language so that they could no longer understand each other. The parallel between Metropolis and the Tower of Babel finally becomes clear. Progress corrupts the hearts of men. It divides and leads to an impossibility to communicate. In the case of the legend of Babel, the incommunication is literal. Workers can no longer speak to each other because they speak several different languages. But in the case of Metropolis, the social classes of the city find it difficult to discuss and listen to each other. They speak the same language but find it difficult to understand each other. To build his futuristic city, Fritz Lang says he was inspired a lot by the city of New York where he said he felt a certain attraction but also a great fear.
What can such modernity bring? Is it an improvement, a progress or on the contrary to sow the seeds of a cataclysm? The city of Metropolis seems oddly dominated by pagan and occult powers which is quite paradoxical. Where technology and machines are usually attached to the idea of a society moving towards a better future, the society of the city has rather reverted to archaic beliefs and rites from the past. And this is opposed by Christianity. What Fritz Lang essentially criticizes is a society based on cold, calculating relationships without any emotional attachment. What the director is asking for is a return to more human relationships embodied in the film by Christian values. That the main female character is called Maria is not trivial since it refers to the Virgin Mary. Where she embodies innocence and purity, her robotic double, Rotwang’s man-machine, is much closer to a prostitute, a demoness, using her charisma and power of attraction to sow discord in the world. within the social classes of the city. She uses her feminine attributes to push the bourgeois to murder. Ditto for Freder Fredersen, although he comes from the ranks of the wealthy, his role in the film is very close to that of Christ, the one who will bring love, reconciliation and peace to Metropolis.
But what does all this mean? The city of Metropolis would allude to the industrial revolution. Although it is inspired by New York, it can equally symbolize the city of Berlin, one of the main industrial capitals of Europe. One would have thought that it would lead to an improvement in the comfort of life. But societies are not built on such foundations. While many consider human problems solved through progress. Rotwang did not understand this. He was convinced that it would solve all the problems but the end will prove him wrong on this point. The whole film is built on an opposition between the organic and the robotic, Christianity and the occult. We tend to forget what is essential in building social cohesion that technology can never provide. It forgets to take into account love, the sharing of common values, a spirit of cohesion and solidarity, a certain understanding despite the differences in social class. By wanting to rely too much on technology, we forget the most essential thing, what makes us human beings.
From everything I have written previously, one can ask the question of the political message behind Metropolis. Is it a Marxist work defending the class struggle? If I wrote this article, it is partly because of the video of Durendal on this same film. Raging about the success of the films Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho, 2019) and Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019) which in his eyes insinuates a hateful vision of the rich, he decides to show what he thinks is a better reflection on the fight classes. What is it really ? Is Metropolis a Marxist film? Let’s take a closer look. The working masses revolt following the manipulations of the mad scientist Rotwang and his robot, the two antagonists of the work. This revolution leads to significant damage and deaths. The class struggle leads to flooding in the underground city where their children are safe. Freder and Maria, the two protagonists of the film, do not advocate the struggle and the uprising of crowds.
Instead, they propose to reconcile the two parties, the proletarian and bourgeois classes. The class struggle is therefore presented in a pejorative way in Metropolis. The message of the film is after all that the mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart. This is about class collaboration, a political concept most often associated with fascist movements. The idea is quite simple. Fascists are nationalists in essence. They believe that nothing is above the interests of the nation. The class struggle, on the contrary, considers that the concept of nation is a chimera which denies the conflictuality and the balance of power within society. The Marxists finally turn out to be enemies of the fascists who can only lead to the weakening of the country or even its destruction. Faced with the division that can result from struggles between social classes, fascism offers an alternative. Instead of going through revolts, we propose a collaboration between the ruling classes and the ruled classes. This principle of organization of the company therefore implies the establishment of a cordial agreement, something to which Maria and Freder fully adhere.
Fritz Lang was not a very politicized person at that time, although he was probably a nationalist. The writing of the film was however entrusted to his wife, Thea von Harbou, very close to Nazi circles. She will join the NSDAP in 1934. Lang never accepted the morality of Metropolis:
“Personally, I don’t like the movie very much. We can no longer say today that the heart is the mediator between the hand and the brain. It’s wrong, the conclusion is wrong, I already didn’t accept it when I was making the film.
What is now considered his masterpiece will be a commercial oven. He will nevertheless attract the attention of the main National Socialist dignitaries, starting with Goebbels… and Hitler. He wanted to make Fritz Lang the official filmmaker of the Third Reich, something he refused. What we can in any case say on this subject is that the German filmmaker probably had a very limited political awareness, not knowing at that time what Nazism could constitute as a danger. So to come back to Durendal’s vlog, Metropolis is not an anti-fascist work. He will never read this article but I wanted to come back to it so that I could correct it.
One would think that the film does not fit into Fritz Lang’s themes because of its history. However, even if the filmmaker did not adhere to the ideology conveyed in Metropolis, the fact remains that he continues in the development of the themes that run through his filmography. We already find an expressionist influence in the field of lighting. We can also note a notable interest in architecture, Fritz Lang studied architecture, and knew how to have control over the models and sets of the film, which is far from negligible because of the importance of the city of Metropolis in the plot of the work. Significant work on the sets and models has been carried out on this point.
And finally, there are all the themes that run through his work. Lang’s stories are real tragedies. Tragedy is a genre of theater featuring characters struggling against their human passions and their destiny. Lang is convinced that an animality is present within man, of impulses that can lead to his destruction and of all civilization. The drive that most interests Fritz Lang is the death drive (but not only). Film writers are almost all influenced in one way or another by their own personal experience. If this impulse which tends towards death can bring to mind the horrors of the Great War and of the 20th century, Fritz Lang was very affected by the death of his first wife. At the time of the investigation, the police concluded that she had not committed suicide but that she had killed herself by accident. The circumstances are not very clear but it seems that she died following an argument with her husband when she discovered the affair he was having with his mistress at the time, Théa von Harbou.
Death, guilt, suicide and murder are at the heart of his works. Death is a major driving force in Lang’s stories. The characters in his films are very often driven by criminal and murderous impulses. M le Maudit begins with the murders of little girls by a horrible assassin. This tragic news item leads to the installation of an irrational fear, a paranoia of the inhabitants of the city where everyone suspects everyone and where we are ready to take justice into our own hands. In The Executioners Die Too, the film begins with the death of high-ranking Nazi Reinhard Heydrich. This political assassination provoked the anger of the German leaders taking the decision to execute a certain number of prisoners. Death leads to an outpouring of all human passions and madness, uncontrollable and irrational forces, which reminds us that we were at a time when psychoanalysis was very successful in intellectual circles. In the case of Metropolis, we discover that a female character is at the heart of an animosity between Joh and Rotwang. Both loved the same woman, Hel, who died giving birth to Freder, the city master’s son. The name of the mother is not insignificant. Hel was the goddess of Death and the Underworld in Norse mythology. But his premature death will plunge Rotwang into madness. Obsessed with the woman he loved, he will build a robot in her image. He will use his new creation to take revenge on Joh, to destroy Metropolis. His blindness can only lead to death and desolation.
But we find all other themes dear to the director, the manipulation of crowds by a superman but also the corruption and cynicism of political powers. Although he was not very politicized, Fritz Lang always had a certain view of the society of his time and therefore of the Weimar Republic. Very often, he evokes through his works the fragility of societies. One would have thought that civilization would have succeeded in domesticating human beings and thus preventing their animal part from taking over. For Lang, our society does not guarantee that our impulses can one day take over. In the worst, they can be used, instrumentalized by a superman. The best-known example in his filmography is the character of Doctor Mabuse. A mastermind of crime, his intention is to take control of Berlin by taking advantage of the inaction of the political elites to stop him. This diagram can also correspond to the figure of Rotwang. He uses his new creation, the man-machine to stir up human passions, his lowest impulses. Joh Fredersen does nothing against him because he is officially his ally, but the mad scientist is playing a double game and will destroy him in his dark designs.
The director and French film critic François Truffaut said of Fritz Lang’s cinema that his stories always plunged his characters into a moral solitude where the man led a struggle in a half-hostile, half-indifferent universe. Young Freder is also faced with this situation in Metropolis. He must face the indifference of his father as much as the destructive madness of the proletarian masses manipulated by Rotwang.
Despite its critical and commercial failure and its ideological content, Metropolis is today considered one of the greatest films of German and world cinema as well as a reference in the genre of science fiction.
Several works refer to, are inspired by or pay homage to Metropolis. We can cite Modern Times by Chaplin, The King and the Bird by Grimault, Blade Runner by Ridley Scott, the Star Wars saga with the droid C-3PO and or the city-planet of Coruscant. Its prestige does not only extend to the world of cinema, the city of Gotham in Tim Burton’s Batman or Dark City by David Proyas.
For the sequel, Fritz Lang will receive a proposal from Goebbels to direct the cinema of the new Nazi regime. Hitler would have loved Metropolis and the Nibelungs. Although some historians doubt the veracity of this discussion, Lang will leave Germany after the rise to power of National Socialism to go to France and then to the United States where he will continue his career.
He would only return to Germany at the end of the 1950s to produce the diptych The Bengal Tiger/The Hindu Tomb as well as the third and final episode of the adventures of Doctor Mabuse.
Guys! take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon!
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
“The witch embodies the woman freed from all domination, from all limitations, she is an ideal towards which to strive, she shows the way”
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:
The exploitation 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.
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 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!
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
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!
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!
“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.
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.
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.
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:
The tone of the film
The themes of the film
The scenario (by its structure or concerning certain elements only)
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!
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:
Tone: Serious Theme: A historic event Scenario: Depends on the event Target: Rather adults
Most common keywords:
Based on true story
What happened in Epilogue
Based on real person
Husband Wife relationship
Based on book
Father Son relationship
World War II
Less common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Falling from height
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.
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.
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.
A sub-genre that is close to documentary, while remaining a work of fiction.
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.
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:
Tone: light Theme: Travel, danger, friendship … Scenario: good guys, bad guys, happy ending Target: all public
Most common keywords:
Good Versus Evil
Falling From Height
Less common keywords:
Husband Wife Relationship
Based On True Story
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:
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:
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.
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.
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 …
What could be more exotic than imagining the world falling apart?
As long as it’s about pirates, it’s a pirate movie.
III/ Action Movies:
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:
Shot in the chest
Hand to hand combat
Less common keyword:
Mother son relationship
Based on true story
Mother daughter relationship
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.
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 …
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.
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.
Tone: Serious, heavy
Theme: Murder, mystery, threat, investigation …
Scenario: The outcome is very important
Most common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Less common keywords:
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.
The Psychological Thriller:
In the psychological thriller, the danger is not so much to lose your life as to lose your sanity.
Genre taken from literature, includes all films whose plot is detective. You can group together gangster films and black films.
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.
Close to science fiction, the plot of these thrillers is based on scientific advances in military or spy circles.
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:
Tone: dark Theme: Death, anguish, torture, paranormal … Scenario: unhappy end, only one stake: survival Target: Adolescent, adult.
Most common keywords:
Less common keywords:
Hand to hand combat
Based on true story
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.
One person kills there one by one, a group of individuals, until the final confrontation.
These are films that show physical mutilations and often theatrics to make them more impressive.
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.
Movies about gigantic creatures that attack the city. They are rarely horror movies because humans are often insignificant in them.
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.
Epic tales highlighting the relationships between the characters in relatively detailed political universes against a backdrop of space travel.
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” …
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.
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.)
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”.
Tone: Epic, rather light Theme: Magic, courage, nobility, good guys against bad guys … Screenplay: Screenplay in three classic acts Target: everyone
Most common keywords:
Good versus Evil
Lifting someone into the air
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Based on true story
Shot in the head
Hold at gunpoint
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.
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”…
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” …
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” …
Stories that take place in space and have elements approaching fantasy.
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. “
Alternation of moments of immense happiness and immense moments of distress. “Titanic”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gone with the Wind” …
A big problematic event happens to the protagonist and he must survive: “The martian”, “The Revenant”, “127 hours”.
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.
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” …
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.
It exaggerates certain features of an already established work in order to make people laugh.
Fictions that take on the appearance of documentaries to tell anything. “Spinal Tap”, “I’m still here” …
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” …
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:
Tone: Variable, often light Theme: Love, marriage, family, couple … Scenario: Misunderstandings and happy ending Target: More women
Most common keywords:
Male female relationship
Less common keywords:
Shot to death
Shot in the chest
Romantic movies are movies where love or romantic relationship is central to the storyline.
Film about love while trying to make people laugh.
Chik Flick Movies:
Romantic film aimed at teenage girls.
Romance with a supernatural creature. “Dracula”, “Ghost”, “Warm Bodies” …
Film which speaks of romance while dealing with death, life after death, ghost with a very heavy atmosphere.
A romance in an epic setting: “Moulin rouge”, “Australia”, “Titanic” …
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. 😉
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
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
“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?
One type of reading and film that I love more than anything, in fantasy or Science Fiction, is horror. And when we talk about horror, a name immediately comes to mind: Clive Barker. I have a lot of time to write this article, three or four months. I wanted to write an article that pays tribute to this writer who I particularly like but, with the lessons and my extra-scholastic activities, I had not really had the time until then. So I could have learned something positive from this confinement, I hope you enjoy it! To show you his genius, I’m going to tell you about Hellraiser and his universe. It all started with a book.
I have always been fascinated by this fabulous story of puzzles from ancient times that, once resolved, open doors to hell. And then one day, a man contacted me to donate me a box from the merchant, an artifact that I had coveted for years. Last night, fighting fear and envy, I performed the ritual deciphering the pattern of lamentation.
After so much research, I thought I knew the secrets of the Hellraiser well. But the mechanism came to life, the box opened … only then did I understand …
For this article, I thought it necessary to make a little warning. If you are under 16, impressionable, or a stranger to artistic darkness, I kindly suggest that you avoid this article. If on the other hand you cherish modern mythologies, the creation of universes and its hazards; if you are fascinated by horror and its symbols then be ready … For you are entering the most infernal cathedral in the fantastic galaxy: Hellraiser.
Before starting our descent into Hell, I would like to invite you to take the place of a creator of horror stories for a moment. As you are a demanding creative person, your secret ambition is to invent an original and detailed universe. We will find memorable abominations, striking images, rich concepts and depth that will allow you the most incredible freedoms. An idea then comes to you and you open your notebook, contemplating the infinite possibilities: We need protagonists with whom all will identify, but above all charismatic antagonists, with inhuman powers, with a legendary and terrorizing appearance. Thus the work will mark minds, inhabit the nightmares of generations, and allow the world to dream and fantasize through your cathartic visions.
The twentieth century has seen a rich and complex horrific culture explode, with many iconic figures, many of whom have become classics. So it’s hard to come up with totally new things … Especially since you’re in 1986, and the heyday of horror is at its peak. What else do you have left to create? How not to reproduce? How to shine brighter than the others in an already dazzling galaxy? Now imagine that you are … Clive Barker.
You are a fantastic young writer, full of ambition and talent. Your first collection, “Book of blood” has a good press and the great Stephen King himself, repeats to anyone who wants to hear it, that he saw the future of horror … and that his name is Clive Barker. You feel it. You are at the threshold of your creative career and you are seething with crazy concepts and the desire to shape the refined nightmares that inhabit you. Besides, for some time now, a story has obsessed you. You feel that it is different, that it conceals a dizzying richness and glows with a black of darkness.
After a feverish and passionate writing, your novel finally comes out and is entitled: “The hellbound Heart”. Even if the literary success is satisfactory, the world has not yet become aware of your history and its potential. Cinema would be ideal, but the studios have already approached you twice and what they have done with your story has disappointed you. So if it takes a film for the world to know, it’s you or nobody.
This is how Hellraiser came out in 1987. Direct adaptation of “The Hellbound heart”, produced by Clive Barker himself. The 35-year-old has just arrived in Hollywood and intends to seize this opportunity to make an impression. Passionate about the horrifying thing, Barker achieves a real tour de force. With a limited budget and no cinematic experiences, Barker easily invites himself into the pantheon of universal horror. All thanks to powerful concepts and creatures that are second to none in pure terror. Thus the world discovers Hellraiser and its mythology, of which here is the almost perfect narrative invitation:
“There is a magic box in our world, carved out of wood and covered with gold … It is said to allow us to discover pleasures that the mind cannot imagine. Unfortunately, for those who own it, the box is actually a key that opens direct access to hell. From this portal emerges the most sadistic creatures that hell has carried: the Cenobites. “
The film is a success because in addition to a striking and poisonous story, a recognized soundtrack and involved actors, it gives birth to a new icon of genre cinema, which the public will baptize Pinhead.
This man with a bluish complexion, wearing nails and adorned with dark leather joined without waiting the Freddy, Jason and other Leatherface at the table of our nightmares. The film will even have the right to a direct sequel, Hellbound, of which Barker will co-write the screenplay. This quality sequel takes us to hell and shows us a little more of the cenobites. On opus 3 and 4 Barker is only a consultant… and from the 5th to the 10th, B’arker is overshadowed by a franchise that will sink into the obscurity of dispensable films.
At the origin of this disintegration, the transfer by Barker of its copyrights to producers, and this from the first film. And very quickly the saga escapes him … to the point of making Hellraiser the biggest missed event in the history of horrific cinema. We are watching new releases, but more out of nostalgia for the first films than out of real hope. Above all, we are watching, a little guilty, for the arrival of new cenobites, which even in a bad film, remain fascinating and unhealthy monsters. Unfortunately, the films do not deliver many mythological elements and achievements without souls will end up killing the franchise. But the good news is that beyond the film and the first novel, other books and comics give life to an extended universe.
The Extended Universe
So this is where our journey into the hell of Leviathan begins. Any story of the saga begins with a mysterious box that one day ends up in the hands of a person.
But the box chooses such victims at random? Before talking about this evil artifact, I must reassure you, the box does not arise randomly in your life … It only appears to have a certain number of profiles. After having gone through all the stories of the saga, it is possible to identify large families of candidates for damnation, in order to understand what profiles are looking for recruiters from hell:
1 The explorers : Who hasn’t dreamed of knowing more about the secrets of the world? Like Frank in the original story, explorers are looking for secret knowledge and forbidden pleasure. It is therefore not surprising to find among our victims 2 journalists, a photographer, an explorer, a librarian or even a disillusioned detective. Whatever the purpose of their research, it leads them into obscure corners of reality and reason. These profiles have in common the quest for a hidden truth and this thirst for knowledge implacably leads them to the box, when it is not she who comes to them. It is often symbolic of the price to pay for those who seek what a human should not know.
2 Scientists : Another family even more dedicated to empirical research into the unknown. We thus find a doctor, a researcher in virtual reality, a virologist or even a researcher in physics. Either his jobs are close to death, or they raise moral and ethical questions which the box monsters are fond of.
3 The lost souls : Even darker profiles. The box often arises in the hands of desperate people, either to shorten their suffering, or to quench their thirst for revenge … towards those they consider responsible. We find there, a depressed woman who committed suicide in her bathtub, a regiment of ex-soldiers traumatized by the horrors of war. But surprisingly, the box appears twice in the hands of abused children, who without knowing it will invoke cenobites to suppress their toxic entourage.
4 criminals : Despite the apparent glimmer of justice suggested by the latter two cases, the box often arrives in the life of the ill-intentioned who make up this family. These candidates evolve in badly famed circles with often absent morals: bettor, delinquents, members of gangs or sexual predators and even serial Killers. They are somewhere the most anticipated candidates in our traditional understanding of Judeo-Christian hell.
5 the leaders : The family with the most members, bringing together all those who exercise and abuse power over others. It is fascinating to see that its elected representatives occupy different levels of society. From the shady promoter, to the manager of a nightclub, to a tortured horse trainer and an unhealthy producer, one who abuses his position is one of the club’s favorite candidates. The same goes for the authoritarian power exercised by a state or an administration: one thus finds soldiers, police officers and even a prison guard. This family also includes leaders, dictators, business leaders and a bloody tale from the Crusades. Finally something that could seem incongruous, there are also several fundamentalist religious who think to invoke God only harvest Cenobites.
There is finally a last family, that of the creators but it is too early to evoke this strange specificity…
You would think that I have not yet revealed the Mythology of the saga, but we have just mentioned its heart: it is in the realm of human darkness that the Cenobites hunt. Their appearance is the crowning of a human life doomed to the dark side. Then resonate this quote from the author:
“Each of us is a book of blood. When we open it, everything is red ”
It is therefore not surprising to see in the tales of the saga direct references to dark periods in our history. From violent colonizations to fratricidal wars, from slavery to apartheid to Nazi horror, Hellraiser keeps reminding us that the darkness of his Cenobites has nothing to envy to that of humans. With its fantastic charge, the saga could have gone headlong into the most uninhibited dark fantasy, but more often than not, stories are born on the contrary in very realistic contexts that reflect our world. This often puts us in front of what we would prefer to avoid …
It’s time to tell you about the box. Based on the movies, we know very little about this strange artifact: It’s a cubic shape with mysterious patterns. Regarding its origins, the film “Bloodline” reveals that in the 18th century, an architect versed in the occult arts would have manufactured it. His name was Philippe Lemarchand. But, as we said, the films do not reveal anything about the magnificent and sophisticated complexity that gets impatient on other supports
Let’s retrace the journey of this mysterious engineer together to understand his role and his motivations … And since I was lucky enough to be able to go through it, I will give you the contents of his diary.
We are in 1740. Philippe Lemarchand, architect and artist, worships the sacred and mysterious geometry of the Cenobites… Increasingly involved, Lemarchand embarks on a frantic quest for knowledge on this subject. He says he goes through the enigma of Albertus Magnus, devours the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Agrippa or Pic de la Mirandole, all of which refer to the Cenobites. (The technique of credibility of mythology requires the convocation of historical figures and troubles.) At the end of his research, Lemarchand became obsessed with these legendary cenobites. Although he thinks that some of these writings are fabulous, the architect leaves the domain of reason.
He gradually slides towards the unhealthy by examining works of frightening anatomy and especially by devouring biographies of Gilles de Rais. This lieutenant of Joan of Arc committed such atrocious misdeeds that he became the inspiration for The Bluebeard, very present in our collective imagination. He was accused during his trial of the murder of 140 children and Gilles de Rais is often mentioned as one of the first documented serial killers in history.
In the diary of this sinister character, The merchant discovers that a cenobite would have guided the murderer in his low works, but especially that there is a box containing a magic formula which would make it possible to invoke the monster. Activating his occult networks, he manages to get it. It was therefore not Lemarchand who invented the first box. On the other hand, he analyzes it until he understands its mechanism. His frustration runs away as he approaches supreme knowledge, with forceful sketches and calculations. To complete his apprenticeship, he activated the mechanism one evening and finally invoked Baron, the famous cenobite who had dictated his actions to Gilles de Rais. The cenobite observes Lemarchand’s sketches and feels his obsession with order and symmetry. Baron accepts that Lemarchand manufactures his own mechanisms to invoke cenobites. He thus becomes the first human to have the right to make boxes.
Let’s now enter the depths of myth. First of all, it is no accident that brings up the box in your life. These are the cenobites who spotted you from hell and send you the puzzle, but we will come back to this point a little later … For the boxes to be mythical and credible, it is therefore necessary to create a story for them, but also a striking appearance and operating concepts. In terms of appearance, there are a multitude of different designs. The shape is overwhelmingly cubic but this look is not exclusive. To convince yourself, just browse the cursed pages of the Sigillum Diaboli, a work that lists the appearances and effects of all the boxes. On the walls of this one, mystical symbols and shapes on which, certain precise finger movements must be applied, in order to activate the mechanism. All the inscriptions on the box draw references to Indian myths, to the Jewish cabbala, to the treatises on demonology or even to the Bible, as if the box were an overlap of several cursed knowledge, a key to darkness.
Once the puzzle begins, a music box melody is heard, which grows as the resolution progresses. The final click sounds, the box sets in motion, pivots on itself and metamorphoses, subject to a sinister logic. At the end a bell rings, like an infernal knell. You can hear the stone on the walls groan and fall apart as you approach the cenobites. Then the walls of the room move away and a bluish light shoots out of the darkness. Ill shadows emerge, they are there. And unless there is a market or a miracle, they will leave with you to let you know hell.
Just before seeing what happens to the unfortunate elected officials, one last point on the magic boxes. While they are practical, they are not the only way to appeal to the Underworld. By solving the boxes, we actually perform a geometric ritual called Configuration. In the movies, the magic formulas are hidden in these puzzle boxes, but far more amazing configurations have existed. Some may take the form of a pocket watch, others the appearance of an innocent music box. We also find a configuration in -400 BC which appears under the appearance of a stone table in front of which incantations must be pronounced … Even more surprising, Lemarchand has for example constructed buildings in which the dark ritual is hidden . This is the case for a leprosy treatment center, for an artist’s pension in Paris but also for a disturbing building. For the latter, it is the journey made with the elevator that gives life to the configuration. But it also works with a guitar if the chords played follow a certain pattern. But the configurations can also be hidden in the cardboard pieces of a puzzle to be assembled, in a crucifix, a crossword puzzle, a novel or even in the way of harvesting a wheat field. They seem like there are more highways to hell than stairs to heaven.
What happens after the cenobites are present?
Several scenarios can occur: As long as you have a bad contact, the view can go wrong and the cenobites will make dozens of chains end with a hook that will spread you in a sheaf of blood.
If on the other hand, you manage to arouse their interest, the cenobites can be tempted by a market. For example, to bring them more candidates for hell and therefore to work for them in the real world. Useless to want to double them or to play with them if not return to the first scenario. Let’s assume that the cenobites save your life, that does not mean that they can leave empty handed. So you have to sacrifice someone for you.
If on the other hand they consider that you are ready to leave with them in the lower kingdom, then the cenobites will carry out the weighing of your soul. Depending on the desires and impulses they discover there, they will reserve a spell for you which can vary, but in any case, rest assured that eternal suffering will be there. If the infernal priests believe that your vices are sadly common then you will be just having fun and your destination is called the Well. There are other wandering souls like you, who have the common appearance of the skinned, who drag like a suffering herd on the desolate moors of the place.
This explains the presence of skinned in films. They are damned who managed to escape from hell with the help of a human, this is the case of Frank in the first opus or for Julia in the second. The sentence “Help me I’m in hell ”written in a letter of blood on the wall by the cutaway therefore takes on its full meaning. To hope to become human again, they must kill people to recover their skin. The population of skinned wells is subject to the yoke of cenobites who treat them like cattle and we will even see them rebelling against their masters.
How does one become a cenobite? After a human life turned to darkness, you are called through the box and your future companions come to pick you up. This is followed by a very unpleasant phase, which takes place in a reconstruction room.
This room can take several forms: it is sometimes an iron virgin, a medieval sarcophagus filled with deadly peaks, other times a niche with walls similar to that of the box, but more often than not, it is a bare room to the medical atmosphere. There is a new kind of surgical instrument, but also repulsive tentacles that search your brain. The machine recomposes your body into an abject and fascinating form, which generally adapts to your psyche, but still, your appearance breathes torture, suffering and unhealthy eroticism. Once the operation is complete, you are officially a cenobite. Your goal now is to harvest souls for your God Leviathan, or recruit new cenobites from humans. The demons of the order of the hack, also have a role of police of the hell because their goal and to catch the rare damned who manage to escape from the limbo. The cenobites evolve in a very hierarchical caste with well defined roles, as in a classic religious order.
Before talking about their laws and their motivation, let’s dwell on their appearance, which is beyond measure in the horrifying genre.
Cenobites have the distinction of being as repulsive as they are fascinating. It was in the original film that the cenobites first appeared. The make-up and the game of the cenobites have laid the foundations of their school, even if the comics will reserve the most decadent expressions for us. The choice of black leather is not trivial. When we look at the occurrences of cooking in the Cinema before the release of the first film in 1987, we are already in a fairly marked imagination: in addition to the black jacket of bad boys on motorcycles, leather is associated with domination, sex and to the interlope places. He’s the offender’s uniform, the murderer’s glove. Leather is the ideal choice to combine attraction and repulsion, eros and thanatos. The design of the costumes, between religious clothing and keeping of sm dungeon creates a particular contrast. To this dark sexual aura is added the gashes. Often the costume is mixed with the flesh. It is even often designed to provide permanent suffering to the wearer. What is disturbing about the cenobites is that despite the constant suffering they endure, they are cold, amused, calm and fanatical, worshiping the pain they present as ultimate refinement. Pain is however what we have been fleeing from the dawn of time; so seeing creatures who have embraced it as a religion takes us into metaphysical malaise and makes them totally inhuman.
Cenobites can have very different aspects and dress. Most of them are humanoid but some are more of an abomination, an indescribable chimera. The bake and piercing look is dominant in cenobite but the environment has its originals. We can especially meet demons dressed in white and red canvas. One of the chiefs of the order is even dressed in a Prussian general’s costume, when another cenobite with facial scarification presents all the paraphernalia of the American soldier. Others have a more monstrous physiognomy, the deformed facies, the skin of another color … There are also animals which accompany them and serve them like dogs or bees. The cenobite therefore offers the creators who shape them a great creative attitude with regard to the form they can hear.
The same goes for their characters: the disparity of personality in cenobites very often reflects the humans they were. Some are rebellious and do nothing but lead, others are cynical, some even try to keep a part of humanity in their decision. The cenobites are extremely innovative for me because they have in their way enlarged the spectrum of what the cinema monster can evoke. Their moral ambiguity, the luminous aura that accompanies them, their chilling calm and their infernal cynicism go beyond the terror of classic cinema to transform it into a venomous fascination.
One of the phrases used by Pinhead to introduce itself is as follows:
« Demons to some, angels to others. »
This contradiction is therefore assumed, to place these entities on more intellectual and psychological ground, to blur their motivations and make them unfathomable. And therefore the classic Manichaeism of our society which opposes good and bad is ineffective here, and this is one of the many genius traits of Barker on the saga. This is due to the underlying philosophy of the Notch order. Indeed, cenobites do not read the actions of men under the specter of good or bad actions, but assess your actions according to whether they have generated chaos or order. And that makes their value system more complex. For example, a cenobite will not try a serial killer because he has killed people. but rather he will assess his motivations and the consequences of his actions. In a way, chaos is associated with man and his freedom, the unexpected and the impulses of life. In contrast, order and structure are associated with control, law, oppression and the system. Besides in Hell, this balance is somehow personified by two strange deities called Chidna and Basilisk.
These two antediluvian entities recall the double helix of DNA and symbolize the necessary balance between darkness and light. A quote from the master clearly expresses this balance between two forces: “Darkness has its role to play. Without them, how would we know we are walking in the light? When the ambitions of evil become too grand, they must be thwarted, disciplined, and even sometimes extinguished. Then they will reappear again as it should. ”
The order of the world is therefore a clever combination of chaos and order. If this balance is disturbed, then Chidna and Basilisk will fight, thus alerting the cenobites that they must repair this anomaly by changing destinies in reality. Because the job of a cenobite is to select people who have power over the world, to tip them over, but a cenobite must also answer to its hierarchy. If he has failed to manipulate the right way, then he will be tried in a trial. Each judged cenobite will have to tear out the heart so that it passed without a balance in front of the members of the order. Because let’s not forget that at the end of the chain of command is their supreme God, Leviathan. Cenobites are therefore a form of police force in the service of a religion, with the whole oppressive and rigorous universe that such terms bring together. Pulling the threads of the spirit, they manipulate destinies to twist them in their interest … Some cenobites have been assigned particular functions which make the myth even more profound.
This is the case of Sister Flagellum, who is called the police. Flagellum is plunged into a deep meditative sleep from which it is drawn if its God Leviathan feels a disturbance in the balance of forces. She will refer them to the cenobite teams so that they go to resolve the situation on the ground, much like a damnation task force.
There is another major role played by a cenobite, very symptomatic of the depth of the Barkerian narrative. But to evoke it it brings us back to the very beginning. How do the boxes end up in the hands of their victims? A box is always given, protected and recovered by a guard. In films, it’s always a strange individual who puts the box back is always the same: Initially a merchant, then an art seller, the guard appears most often in the guise of a homeless man with a beard unkempt and with crazy eyes, which seems to have a particular connection with the locusts. Again, these are the comics that give us keys to understanding these famous guards. First of all they are shape-changers, they have the capacity to take the appearance that they wish to approach and seduce the target without it being suspicious. But how are these mysterious smugglers created? Thanks to our famous cenobite with such a special role.
His name is Orno, and he has his own cabinet in the bowels of hell. To create a puzzle keeper, Orno chooses a damned that he calls “Raw Material”. He alters his soul by placing a bit of his own demonic spirit in it. He then returns his guinea pig to earth so that he can have sex with a woman. From this relationship will be born a child who Orno will take care to make orphan. Once he reaches 16 years of a life of sadness, Orno will reveal his true nature to him by offering him the box of which he will be the official guardian.
As a result, with the Hellraiser universe, we are witnessing a phenomenon which is after all quite frequent, which one could call “transmedia mythological development”. It’s the idea of expanding a fictional universe to other media than the one by which he was born. For Hellraiser, it’s a classic journey to Hollywood for a successful franchise: we adapt a book to the cinema, and if it is successful, we then develop comics or video games to tell new stories and spread the universe. And if the adaptations are sometimes soulless commercial moves, there are cases where this passage is extremely beneficial for a work. This is the case for Hellraiser. Making a fantastic film is expensive and we are subject to regulations that limit what we can show. With a comic, no problem. The only limit is the talent of the artist and the imagination of the authors.
In the work, the hell that Barker describes is very different from the classic hell representations. Where we knew a hell of red and burning limbo led by Satan, we find here a blue and icy labyrinth dominated by Leviathan. The first visual representation of the labyrinth of the underworld is delivered in the second film of the saga named Hellbound, during a sequence which literally convinced me that the saga hid an incredible mythological potential. We see there for the first time a reconstruction chamber and the making of a cenobite, but, above all, we discover a landscape worthy of the most dizzying nightmares. Perspectives that are lost from afar, abundances of senseless architecture, bottomless precipices …
The main inspiration for this representation comes from the work of Piranesi, a brilliant Italian engraver who lived in the 18th century. The latter unwound one day to create 16 engravings that would present nightmarish imaginary prisons. In this suffocating world, one enters a monumental architecture, with multiple dungeons, suffocating and dirty, with walkways that lead nowhere to spiral staircases. They are also intertwined with pulleys, chains and other instruments of torture. If the labyrinth also reminds of the Minotaur’s labyrinth, it also summons the architectures of Escher. We can safely quote the artist since a plan of the film shows one of his works.
For Piranesi, The link is especially strong when we contemplate the bowels of the labyrinth with its multidirectional corridors, its abyssal staircases and its general function of prison of souls. The fact that Barker wanted to quote Piranesi to make hell a prison place and cold is of a strong originality, which moreover suits perfectly the cenobites. On the top of the walls of this labyrinth, the cenobites can walk, meet and above all pray to Leviathan, who overlooks this gigantic area. When one descends from the crests of the labyrinth to enter its entrails, one enters a dark and dense area, with stairs which intersect to serve the various places of torture and other hellish abominations. The depth of this place seems endless, like the torments that stand there.
Since the cenobites are ancient humans, it makes sense, after all, to keep activities from their previous lives. So do not be surprised to know that in the labyrinth there are archives of operating theaters, an armory, but also a bar, a theater, or even places for political meetings. Finally above this Leviathan plane labyrinth.
This name originates from the Bible where Leviathan is described in several books as a multi-headed sea monster who revolts against God. We can also make the link with the eponymous book by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes uses Leviathan as a metaphor for the perfect state, ruled by an absolute sovereign who exercises total control over society. Written by Hobbes during the First English Revolution, Leviathan insists on the need for a strong and total social order to avoid society from sinking into a state of nature which, for Hobbes, is a chaotic war of all against all. This choice of name is therefore not trivial and its symbolism has its place in Hell.
In Hellraiser, this volume of depths is also designated as the God of Flesh, Hunger, Desire, or Lord of the Labyrinth.
It is complicated to create a God in a fictional work, especially if one decides to show it. What form should be given to an abstract idea? Barker opted, not for yet another hackneyed classic demonic abomination, but for a surprising and mathematical form, perfectly symbolic of the concepts of Order and Structure. Indeed, the god of cenobites is an octahedron whose walls recall the esoteric ornament of Lemarchand’s boxes. Leviathan gravitates, lonely, dominating hell. It has the power to launch rays of black light which infiltrates your soul to reveal your sins to you.
The origins of this entity are unknown, but several clues point to the fact that it has been present since time immemorial. It is even said that he could be the fallen angel of the scriptures, but above all, this strange god is the one who makes the cenobites. It has the capacity to transform any human being into a suffering monster and thanks to its reconstruction chambers and its tentacles, it has total freedom in the grotesque and terrifying form that it will want to give you.
Leviathan does not speak directly, and to be able to exchange with him, it is necessary to go in his entrails. You can enter it thanks to a wall that unfolds and reveals endless markets. Once inside, the cenobites must play hard an organic organ made of supliciaries of hell to hope to communicate with this God. In the film, his only form of external language is a tetanizing foghorn which spells the word “GOD” in Morse code. So here we are at the top of hell.
After this painful journey, we can already note that the only thing that equals the darkness of Hellraiser is its black aesthetics and its mythological sophistication.
A connection with the Bible? In most works wanting to install a contemporary mythology, these almost systematically refer to Catholic mythology, whether it be the films Freddy and the relationship of his famous killer with hell, the game Bloodborn and his pantheon of Gods who seek to procreate or the manga Berserk and its multiple references to the Inquisition…
For Hellraiser, the least that can be said is that Clive Barker has a unique approach to the issue. Like the character, she is amazing and complex. In an interview book with Peter Arkins, one of the great screenwriters of the saga, Barker writes on the question. He immediately confesses to trying in his writings to find the rhythm of the Bible, which he says is his favorite. He also has a sort of fascination with the figure of Christ. Conversely, his vision of the church and of dogma exudes the most dissenting rejection there is. The work translates very well this oscillation of the author between fascination for the verb and the biblical symbols and detestation of what the men of church made of God. And the saga is dotted with games with religious symbolism, often to return the values. The word cenobite itself refers to an existing order. In contrast to the hermit, who lives in solitude and contempolation, the Cenobite monk lives in community. By thus making reference to an existing order, Barker can thus criticize religion while retrieving the lexical and symbolic fields. Pinhead is a nickname but its real dominion is “Hellpriest”, and the monster even marries its gestures. In addition, the cenobites despise the God of men. This phrase from cult Pinhead is a perfect example:
« Do I look like some one who cares what God thinks ? »
Barker’s vision of hell is therefore not made of horned demons who plunge us into the pot of lava, but of a religious, calculator based on suffering.
And if we wanted to go a little further, we might wonder if the cenobites in their concepts are not very close to the Catholic religion. Indeed, among Christians, the supreme act that launched religion is the crucifixion of a messiah, who became a martyr to save men. One can almost say that this act of torture is the basis of the Catholic religion. To the point that the symbol worn by its followers is an instrument of torture. Even if this is presented as an act of supreme love, the fact remains that this myth bases its genesis on the suffering and sin of men. Just like the cenobites.
It is also fascinating to see that the Christ figure has the same right to its rereading with the female figure of Morte Mamme.
In the Barkerian myth, she is the sister of Leviathan, who captured her in a stone tomb thousands of years ago. She is named priestess of chaos and the image she represents is no big mystery. Yet another camouflaged anti-dogma by the author who tells us that Jesus is a woman, that she is the impulse of life and chaos and that her goal is the destruction of the cenobites. Impossible not to see a political dimension when we know the place of women in religions. Thus Clive Barker seems to be in the grip of a fascination for the original biblical stories and the symbolic power of these myths, while castigating the purely evil deviation of our modern religions. For Clive Barker, God is imagination and imagination is God.
He is He may be some of you who are not used to horrifying creations for whom this universe is undoubtedly dirty, shocking, depressing or repulsive. This prompts us to ask ourselves the question: how can we imagine such things? Isn’t creation supposed to generate beauty, transcendence, a pleasure for the senses and the eyes? And I, who am swooning in front of this universe, do I have problems? Am I a creepy person, feasting on the kind of metaphorical darkness? It’s strange because I see the opposite. Barker himself says that what is pornography for some is theology for others. Everything is therefore a question of point of view. As far as I’m concerned, I see in this work an incredible ode to creation. A declaration of love for the surreal adventure it implies. Finally, I see in Hellraiser a reflection on the Artist’s sacrifices. After three months of living in this universe, I ended up thinking about it in my sleep. And one night, I dreamed of this cover of Comic:
We see a painter’s palette there. Brushes are blades and paint hemoglobin. And there I had the feeling to understand. Clive Barker explains that he writes as we paint, and that we only paint with his blood. No wonder, then, that we find our last family of damnation candidates here. The artists…
Inhabited by an intangible and devouring need, they are often visited by the cenobites in the saga. They come to find a young poet, a blind composer, two writers, a crazy painter … The work of a creator consists in deciding between structure and chaos, putting his soul into the configuration that is a work. In Hellraiser but especially in life, Art is a sacrifice, an activity of a reclusive monk who would only have his imagination for God. It’s a life where places are scarce, where the waiting and learning are endless, where you have to undergo the opinion of people who rarely understand you … The artist’s freedom is strewn with a thousand obstacles: how to earn something to eat? How to reach people? How to make a work that excites us ourselves? How to surprise yourself, surprise others and mark their hearts and minds? And how to survive a world that does everything to suppress the dream? Barker is a free spirit, a man who fights daily against the idea of death, a man for whom the imagination is the greatest mystery of humanity. For whom the imagination is God. A man, finally, who is not afraid to rub himself in the dark in order to draw resplendent jewels from it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a creator virtually. I am quick to marvel at multiple subjects, but feeling an intimate artistic shock in front of an artist’s mind is rare. And that’s what happened to me with this character that I’ve been contemplating from afar for years, without knowing anything about him. On a sleepless night, I tried what I often balk at doing: knowing everything about the creator whose work I explore. For me the work is what interests me in the first place and I was sometimes disappointed when I discovered the person who was hiding behind. But with Clive Barker, the sensation was quite different, around 4am and after 20 interviews, I felt like I had found a mentor, an incredible model, someone I would like to count among my friends.
The sequence that touched me the most was an English interview where Barker faced a crowd of young people whose age was not so far from his at the time.
And all the questions from the public are curiously enough reactionary and suspicious. Hellraiser first of the name had just come out and everyone was suspicious of the singularity and the violence of the work. And Barker to enter into a soft, understanding and sensitive plea on the power and the necessity of the horror stories, on the strange beauty that they contain. Seeing him justify himself in front of people who did not understand his sensitivity touched me in the messages they delivered, and his kindness confused me. So I often think back to his mantra:
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your work”.
One of the beauties of this saga is to see the ambition of its concepts, the creative and symbolic freedom that it contains. What an emotion to contemplate the birth of a world with its geography and macrocosm, to follow its emblematic heroes and demons struggling in an abyssal mythology, with so many readings. If I was talking about the opening cathedral, it is because every detail of this universe is coherent, finely chiseled and that it allows 1000 things, not forbidding anything. We recognize here the work of a goldsmith of horror, of a watchmaker of the imagination … who would take the bias of art to reveal things that life does not show. The work then becomes like a revelation that speaks to everyone, like a metaphorical vision of our world.
I would like to end, with a little heavy heart, this trip in the meanders of this total artist with one of the sentences of which he has the secret: