We are all fragments


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

It’s so easy to forget

Memory loss

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

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


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

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

Multiplicity

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

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


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

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

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

Start the video at minute 2.

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

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

William S.Burroughs: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Midnight Session n°4 : The Color Out Of Space

“The color out of space” is a short story by Howard Philips Lovecraft published in 1927.
This rather short story tells how a strange meteorite, with a very particular color, will bring chaos to a small farm in New England.


As you read this story, you say to yourself that it would be very complicated to adapt it to the cinema, so much it plays on unknown concepts and indescribable forms, that it would be very difficult, if not impossible to bring the screen to life.
While this isn’t the first time that this news has tried to be adapted, or at least in part (“The Curse” with Wil Wheaton), the trailer for Richard Stanley’s latest film looked really promising. As fans of Lovecraft’s stories, I couldn’t wait to find out.

Welcome everyone to this new Midnight Session!


“The color out of space” is directed by Richard Stanley, whose last feature film, “Dust Devil” dates back to 1992. Very good film that I highly recommend to you by the way, with the excellent “Hardware” of 1991. Passionate about magic and everything related to the occult, Stanley (not the Marvel guy) has also made many documentaries on this subject. (Difficult to give you an opinion, I haven’t seen them).

With “Color out of space” he finds himself at the helm of a film in which horror will slowly creep in.
We follow the misadventure of the Gardner family, whose relations between each member are rather tense and will also have to deal with a strange contamination of their environment following the crash of a meteorite.

If at first it is the children who realize the danger that creeps into their lives, the parents will quickly realize that something is wrong:

  • Strange colored vegetation;
  • Strange insect;
  • Mutant animals …

So many things that will get the better of their sanity, particularly that of the father of a family, alpaca ranchers who objectively could not be better interpreted than by a freewheeling Nicholas Cage in moments of madness.

This film is a real gem, which takes the time to deepen its characters, to install its story and to take us into this cosmic delirium with shimmering colors and monstrous creatures, which will not be without reminding us of the brilliant “The Thing ”by Jhon Carpenter, thanks to some old-fashioned animated models, to scenes of transformations, but also because the threat is invisible there, using its environment to create a physical form giving it all a dimension absolutely terrifying!


This film is a real success. Bringing Lovecraft’s short story to life was not easy. The odd color that pervaded his surroundings was surely what was most difficult to convey to the screen. By choosing a mix of purple and pink, it creates a hypnotic ambience that perfectly matches what is described in the original story.
Of course, the director takes a few distances by adding certain elements specific to his universe which are perfectly grafted to that of Lovecraft.
The couple’s young daughter, passionate about occult science, uses the formulas of the Necronomicon (a fictional book invented by Lovecraft that some occult enthusiasts believe to be true).

Visually superb and inventive, full of humor and scary scenes, “The color out of space” is an all too rare cinema experience, which if you let yourself be carried along, will take you into a hallucinated spiral of madness from which you will not come out. unharmed.

If like me you enjoyed this film, know that the production company of Elijah Wood, Spectrevision, already responsible for this film to sign an agreement with Richard Stanley to adapt two other novels of Lovecraft. If these films are of the same ilk, I can’t wait to see them!
And if the success is at the rendezvous, we can, perhaps, hope that the adaptation project of “At the Montain Madness” by Guillermo del Toro is relaunched!

Clive Barker, his genius demonstrate in Hellraiser!

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.

The 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.

CLIVE BARKER, IN A PORTRAIT PHOTO FOR HIS BOOK “EVERVILLE”, 1994

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.

The Film


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 …

Lemarchand’s box

Art by Nick-Percival on deviantart.

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.

Gilles de Rais

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.

Skinned

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.

The cenobites?

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 BY Legrande62 on Deviantart

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.

Hell

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.

Leviathan

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:

“All that is imagined will never be lost”.

Arrival, Monument of Science Fiction!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to win a little film critic writing contest for a magazine. You had to write about what you considered to be the best film of the decade 2010-2020. The winners were published in a booklet and on the publication’s website a few days later in the form of a top 10 films to watch for containment.
I thought it might interest you even if the tone is … a little different from what I used to write!
^^ ’
I translated it and voila!

Good reading!


The wonderful thing about genre cinema is that it is infinitely renewed. Because if you tell the synopsis of “Arrival”, a priori, you will have the impression of having already seen this film a thousand times.

“Extraterrestrials arrive on earth but we don’t know what their intentions are… blah blah…”

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Contact”, “2001: a space odyssey”…
Yet “Arrival” is a film that was a breath of fresh air for me. An intimate film, with a mesmerizing staging that offers us a grand fable on inter-species communication and I would even say communion, and I am not talking about communion in the religious sense. “Arrival” is a film with a universal, timeless message that falls in almost none of the clichés associated with films of extraterrestrial invasions. And it’s rare enough to be highlighted. I say it right away, it was for me the best film of its last 10 years..

The story:

Overnight, mysterious extraterrestrial entities appear on Earth. For the moment, no sign of hostility in sight. Affine to decrypt the language of extraterrestrials to say the least enigmatic, The army calls on a linguist, played by Amie Adams who will try somehow to communicate with her beings of which everything remains to be discovered.

Even if Denis Villeneuve has already accustomed us to obscure films open to interpretation, “Arrival” is not a film which knocks you out with mathematical formulas or theories of quantum physics, as if to prove to you that it is a mature film, which must be taken seriously. Symbolism quickly takes over and the images speak for themselves.
This film is poetry.
Villeneuve purifies his staging to keep only the essentials, only what serves his purpose. Halfway between a blockbuster and an experimental film, “Arrival” enjoys an atmosphere that oscillates between light and shade. And you feel that disturbing strangeness from the first minutes, which makes it impossible to look away from the screen. I don’t think I have seen such an intoxicating film since Melancholia by Lars von Trier.

I do not intend to make a surgical analysis of this film, which as you can imagine raises a lot of subjects on different themes. I’ll only talk to you about what touched me personally. And it is so rare to have the impression that a film is addressed to us directly.

Because yes the aliens of “Arrival” speak to us, but what are their intentions?
Why are they there?

If the film takes its full interest when scientists enter the alien spacecraft, it is through the prism of the staging. In the era of triumphant digital, I think we all agree that even Hollywood studios have little to sell us when it comes to digital creatures, and it’s certainly not with glasses 3d that things will get better.
From “Jurassic Park” to “Avatar” or “Terminator 2”, our references are saturated with monsters always more detailed, imposing, always closer to the screen. And if there is one thing that forces my admiration for Denis Villeneuve, it is this knowledge of cinema, that which suggests more than it shows, in order to let our imagination fill the gaps, to keep us captive of its history. “Arrival” is Science Fiction in the noblest sense of the word.


Without speaking about the work on the architecture which is just breathtaking, the artistic direction of this film is in perfect adequacy with its story, and the arrival of its beings appears to each of us in a different way.
A spider, an octopus or simply a hand, a member, or simply an ink stain on a screen, the design of its creatures, rests only on abstract forms. This is a great idea that we owe to Denis Villeneuve. As Rorschach tests, it is up to you to decide what you see.


And there is a fine line between what can seem dangerous to you and what you think is very watchful. Everything is ambiguous in this film, until the end you never know how to interpret the actions of your creatures, and in my opinion, that is the main subject of this film.
We humans, the dominant species on this planet, we have created empires, civilizations. Master of a technology that is overtaking us, we even walked on the Moon! However, today we are still unable to talk to each other, knowing how to approach each other without going through a balance of power.
The character of Louise, will not simply communicate with her aliens, she will transcend her human condition to enter into symbiosis with them.
If this film speaks to us well about contact, He does it in the most natural way possible. And this contact, it goes above all through trust.
For me the key scene of this film is when Louise decides to take off her jumpsuit in order to show herself to the aliens. If a person is to represent humanity, then above all, he should not be governed by fear.

“Arrival” is a great film about language, both inside and outside of fiction. Like Louise, who never ceases to want to decode the meaning of these “hieroglyphs”, we spectators are also invited to decode each shot. If this film is not very talkative, all the iconic plans, push us to multiply our grids of readings, until the very arrival of the extraterrestrial vessels.
If we compare them to the aliens of “Independence Day”, aggressive invaders whose arrival on Earth, literally hides the sun, the aliens of “Arrival” opt for them in a vertical position and above all motionless, silent. They respect our living space. By levitating above the ground, high enough to not crush anything and just ready enough for us to enter.
Besides, we can see that the director is Canadian, because even if it can be fun from time to time with directors on the other side of the border, when there is something unidentified in the Heaven immediately war.

Gods, it’s nice to see a filmmaker shift even the code of science fiction cinema to present us with such an ambitious film. Because yes, “Arrival” is one of the most ambitious films of its last years. We are talking about a film that shows us that we can:

Open time!

So scertainly, we have already seen humans enter into psyche with entities with higher intelligence, to build but in hand a better world. But, if this film is inspired by a large number of references already cult for the most part, it sublimates them.
For example as a fan of “2001: a space odyssey”, I simply loved this scene where Louise explains to the army chief, the semantic ambiguity between the weapon and the tool.

Louise Banks: If all I ever gave you was a hammer …
Colonel Weber: Everything’s a nail …

What is “Arrival” for me:

“Arrival” is not a film that gets lost on the way. It’s not a film that starts off on a high note and doesn’t really know how to end.
It’s a film that arrives at just the right time in a particularly turbulent period in our history when humanity is taking a collective awareness that it is time to question our whole way of life.
In the genre of extraterrestrial invasion, “Arrival” represents the film of maturity.


If I had to compare it to another science fiction film, I would take “Contact” by Robert Zemeckis in 1997. Without too much spoiler, we see a young female scientist tempted to decrypt an extraterrestrial signal.
So even if the moral and the stakes are ultimately quite distant from Villeneuve’s film, despite all the similarities that are obvious, we hardly noticed that in the film of Zemeckis, the finality of the adventure, the outcome is based only on contact with the aliens.
Judy Foster looks at the sky, without worrying too much about what is happening below, while in “Arrival”, if the aliens came of their own will on Earth, it is not only to provoke the meeting, but also and especially to make us understand that before wanting to get in touch with the rest of the universe, it might be time to learn to communicate with each other.
It’s not a fluffy outcome, or a particularly optimistic one, because as the film says, if the aliens help us, it’s because they will need our help later. This is not a morality full of good feelings, it is an exchange of good procedure, because in nature, this is how it happens, and frankly, just for that thank you!

I realize that this review may seem a little solemn or pompous, but I’m sorry, I can’t moderate my enthusiasm at such a film. “Arrival” has been admirably received by both critics and the public, and that’s important. These are exactly the kinds of movies that Hollywood should encourage in production.
So no, personally, I do not want to see a filmmaker as promising as Villeneuve make suites / reboots / prequels / my ass … To know that my grandchildren will have nothing to do with cinema as “Star Wars episode 89 “And” Terminator 28 “makes me pissed off.
It’s a film like “Arrival” that should make the event, and I’m glad that this film has the success it deserves.
With that, I wish you a session and a good day and always keep in mind:

“In this universe, we never create anything, we only make this memory. “

The Midnight Session n°1 : The Shape of Water

Today I wanted to offer you a new article format.
In “The Midnight Session”, I wanted to talk about more or less known films, all of which had a strange or disturbing atmosphere in common. My goal here is to introduce you to films that are worth watching or to try to teach you some things about others that are already well known to the general public.

What I love about Guillermo Del Toro :

What I like about Del Toro is that he is still one of the only directors to offer original and intelligent stories, populated by strange creatures taking the spectators into worlds oscillating between dreams and nightmares.


And strange creatures, he loves it!
It is inside his house nicknamed “Bleak House”, a sort of huge cabinet of curiosities, that our director stores his collections of books and objects related to horror and fantasy. Collection which constantly feeds his imagination and which he transcribes through his films to the delight of fans of the genre.

« The Shape of Water »


“The Shape of Water” tells the story of a mute woman working for the United States government (know you know why I choose this film for this first midnight session 😁). Around a corridor she discovers a room in which a strange creature is held. The two will end up having this friendship, until their relationship turns into a love story.

Guillermo Del Toro signs there a poetic and moving film whose history places it in America of the Sixties plagued by paranoia and racism. The woman and the creature, both too different in their own way will see through each other this beauty that the others do not perceive and will not leave indifferent other characters who will come to help the liberation of the creature.

Kind of Beauty and the Beast aquatic version, borrowing its sticky side from Howard Philippe Lovecraft, “The Shape of Water” is visually superb. With an aesthetic that will also remind video game enthusiasts of the atmosphere of the “Bioshock” series.

One would have thought that this film was a prequel to another film by Del Toro, his adaptation of Hellboy, in which another creature half man half fish was already present, but, although it is the same actor under the two masks , it is not so.
“The Shape of Water” is a unique and poetic film that pays tribute to a great film from the 1950s:


“The creature from the black lagoon”, directed by Jack Arnold in 1954.
The film tells the story of a team of scientists who during an expedition to the Amazon discover that a very ancient creature lives in the waters of the river.

Accusation of plagiarism!

“The Shape of Water” also raised a few waves of challenges and Del Toro was accused of plagiarism.


It seems that a novel by Paul Zindel, “Let me hear you whisper” would have the same theme. A cleaning lady from a biology laboratory falls in love with a captive dolphin.
There are many identical elements:

• The 60s ;
• The military scientific complex;
• Tyrannical superiors;
• The escape in a linen trolley …

Although Del Toro is still prohibited from having read the book, it is doubtful.


Another work may still have been a “strong inspiration”, it is the short film “The space between us”, released in 2015.
We find exactly the same themes and very similar plans.
Here’s what to make your own opinion:

Conclusion:

Plagiarism or not does not detract from the charms of “The Shape of Water”, which I absolutely recommend to you, because this kind of film is far too rare in cinemas. Supported by charismatic actors like Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon, the work of Del Toro is a fantastic and extraordinary film, as only a passionate storyteller can bring us.

The alternative :

If you liked “The Shape of Water”, on a similar theme, I suggest the film “Cold Skin”. A Franco Spanish film directed by Xavier Gans.

In the early 1900s, a man settled on an island lost in the middle of the Atlantic to study the climate, but the island was also inhabited by a lighthouse keeper and a strange creature.
Adaptation of the eponymous Catalan novel, this film is a real gem worthy of the stories of Lovecraft.

See you soon for a next Midnight Session!

Robocop 3

Launched, from the production of the second opus, the story of the creation and release of the film Robocop 3 is a disaster scenario all by itself.
We asked Frank Miller for a script first, then we went to find an inexperienced director in feature film, in the person of Fred Dekker, who as a big fan of the first part, tried to put his heart to the book to not disappoint.

The problem is that, as for the second film, Robocop is now synonymous with marketing and merchandising, The producers then asked to relax the script to make it a public movie. When Peter Waller was asked to take over the role of the robot, he refused and a new actor was found in the presence of Robert Burk, who later played Agent Pierce Tiler in the excellent Oz series. Nancy Allen accepted, but only if her character died in the first act and to top it off, Orion went bankrupt during the production of The Addams Family (heart with the hands). And the film waited on a shelf for 2 years, before being able to go out in theaters. What was funny then is that when Robocop 3 reached the big screens, the game was available for 2 years in the arcades. What was less funny was the reaction of critics and the public, which was the fate of the robot man in the cinema until the remake of 2014.

In short, I see you already sharpen your knives, surely waiting for you, after having descended the second part to that I disassemble this feature film. Well we will see.

Synopsis of the film:

The film begins with an advertisement retracing the dream of the old man at the head of the OCP, aka the return of Delta city. Then go back through a newscast, telling the story of Detroit until now … well now in the movie, not now now.
Finally, we learn that a Japanese firm named Kanemitsu has bought the OCP.

The next scene shows us a little girl doing mathematics of a level far too high for her age.
Let’s say that his father is played by the official Kurt Russel look-alike, but for a fairly modest family, living in the old unhealthy neighborhoods of Old Detroit, they still have the money to buy a state-of-the-art computer!

We have no time to think about all his beautiful questions that a demolition ball reduces their habitat to nothing. And the family is expelled without notice in the calm of a civil war. Like Fivel, the little one finds her separated from her family.
In parallel with this tearful scene, we also see CCH Pounder get beaten in front of number 12 the nasty Arian of the film. And that’s when it’s all exploding that we find out that in fact it’s the leader of a resistance group named Martha Washington, sorry Bertha Washington (Martha Washington is a Heroine of a comic from Frank Miller).
Chance doing things well, this one collects the girl of the beginning.
This cell of resistance is composed, among others, of the president of the films of Mickael Bay and the commander Spangler of Malcom in the Middle.

In short our team is stopped by ed209 which is found very quickly hacked by the girl and who will serve a minute later to destroy a whole team of rehabilitation as they call it. Alas we will not see the robot again. Note also the presence of Scart socket on the machine. Proof that this is an outdated technology.

Some scenes later we come across an Anne Lewis chewing gum version during the brakage of a coffee shop.

And after 20 minutes of film, a car squeaks its tires on the roof of a car park and launches into the void. She landed on her 4 wheels (but I doubt that the suspensions have survived). And Robocop breaks the roof of his car to make his entry! And in addition he stops a bullet between his thumb and his index! Ok, this is the most badasse scene of the movie.

In reality Robocop 3 is not the bad film so much decried by the fans even if this one is far from being a masterpiece.
In fact the real problem is that it does not happen much. The action scene is a deep boredom, as robocop’s truck pursuit into Barbie’s car.

In summary ?

  • The bad guy shoots,
  • Robocop shoots
  • The bad guy shoots
  • Robocop shoots
  • The bad guy throws money
  • Robocop loses the bad guy.

In the rest of the film, Robocop goes to help the resistance, while the OCP wants to destroy everything. And the film parallels a humanist Robocop rescuing disowned resistors from their lands, with OCP villain becoming him a real war machine and in the middle there is an android ninja named Otomo Surely in reference to Katsuhiro Otomo and in reference to Frank Miller’s Ronin too.
The police surrender their badges and join the resistance.

Okay it does not happen, but I can not hate this movie.In 1991, it was one of the first times that Hollywood was referring to martial arts movies, it was only in 1993 that John Who came from Hong Kong.In the Final the story is a crippled soldier who finds himself in spite of himself in a history of land expropriation and will eventually take part for the inhabitants, helped by the professor who rebuilt him and rebelled against a villain haired white.(But … But it’s the same story as James Cameron’s Avatar!)

Well, I think it’s cool as a story. And then Robocop, makes everything explode in Jet Pack!

And then there are plenty of references to the first film, and of course, knowing that it would never get to the ankle of the first film, the director did the opposite of Robocop 2. Instead of doing in auction, more gore, more violent … He just tried to convey an optimistic message.I also admit having liked the animated sequence mocking the marketing service. And that of the journalist who refuses to say propaganda in full direct.Not to mention the funny jokes, like the punk who do not know how to put on his helmet with his crests.

The film is flawed but it is full of good intentions with a humanist message and can also be seen as an unofficial adaptation of Martha Washington comics.

The Wizard of Oz

Today I went on an archaeological expedition in the cellar. I was looking for things to sell for a charity sale. In the middle of all this bazaar I found a box of stuffs that belonged to Mom. It was a moment full of emotion for me, you can imagine.
Inside there were old DVDs, including 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” with Judy Garland. It was his favorite movie and one of my childhood movies. So much time to sink into the couch with my sister, huddled against mom to hum the songs!

In short I wanted to tell you about it, and to make you discover it if you do not know it.

Hold on your belt, Dorothy! We embark for the country of Oz.

Dorothy Gale is a young girl from Kansas raised by her aunt M who tries to escape after their neighbors have complained about her dog Toto. Desperate, she returns home when a tornado rises and carries her to the wonderful land of Oz.She must thwart the plans of the wicked witch from the west and snap her heels on the yellow brick road with the tin man, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion to get to see his family.

“The Wizard of Oz” is a pivotal film of American culture, released in 1939, and directed by Victor Fleming, who directed “Gone with the Wind”at the same time.
“The Wizard of Oz” is also one of the first technicolor films made by Hollywood studios, with a gargantuan number of actors and an awesome budget. And it’s also a musical with songs that many people know without knowing where they come from, like “Somewhere over the rainbow”

But “The Wizard of Oz” is also:

  • Full employment for small people;
  • Too much LSD;
  • Genetic mutations in monkeys;
  • The son of the Iron Giant.

For this super production, Richard Thorpe, who was the first director to take charge of the project, take famous names of the cinema of this time, like Billie Burk, and of course the magnificent Judy Garland who just signed to Metro Goldwin Meyer.

Well after reviewing the movie recently, I realized that Dorothy was really very silly (but it’s a trick that shares a lot of character of children until the 80s / 90s at the cinema)At the time of the shooting, Judy Garland was only 16 years old and was still far from being the little darling of Hollywood that she will become thereafter. However, from a young age, this carefree character stuck to his skin, until his appearance in the film “A star is born” in 1955.

Some shooting anecdotes:

  • It was originally intended to be signed by Richard Thorpe, who was replaced by George Cukor soon after shooting began. When Cukor decides to leave the film to shoot “Gone with the Wind”, it is Victor Fleming (who was also involved in the filming of “Gone with the Wind”) that is called to bring the project to a successful conclusion . As much to tell you that at first it smelled a little fir.
  • Victor Fleming contributed to the two greatest successes in the history of cinema, released in 1939 and whose filming took place at the same time.
  • And it’s not over, since the actor who was to interpret the tin man at the base was replaced after a serious accident, the man is “slightly” asphyxiated with the painting of his costume.
  • Another problem on the set, Margaret Hamilton, the wicked witch of the West is burned to the third degree following a pyrotechnic effect, which reacted badly with her makeup.
  • It is said that a figure would be hanged on the set. The body was found late, it is said that a scene was shot without anyone realizing that there was a dead in the field. but it’s bullshit.

What is “the wizard of Oz”?

The wizard of Oz is an adaptation of L.Frank Baum’s novel “The wonderfull wizard of Oz”.
It follows the typical initiatic tale.
A heroine finds herself transported into an imaginary world, a character gives her a magical object that takes place during a quest during which she will have to fight against an antagonist with the help of faithful companions. Yes, it’s the scenario of “Lord of the ring”!

In the film, we also note the passage from one world to another thanks to a door that reinforces the two-dimensional side and also refers to “Alice in wonderworld” with which Dorothy has a lot in common.
The wonderful in “The wizard of Oz” is also fueled by the notion of illusion that is treated throughout the film.
The sets, costumes and behaviors are deliberately exaggerated to highlight the dummy side of the universe of Oz. It also shows that Hollywood was at that time, is more than ever a dream industry.

The film also features a lot of strong female figures, they are fairies, powerful witches, reassuring and independent, brave mother figures … On the other hand, male figures are represented as defective. They lack a heart, a brain, courage.
But in general, adults are totally lacking in discernment and everyone seems to be off with the fairies.

What we often find in analyzing this work is that it is an apology for the American dream. Dorothy, looking for the emerald city, symbolizes the rural exodus from the countryside to the city where everything is possible and can not be realized if we take the trouble.
Finally the moral is “That’s no place like home” or “Home” represents the United States. The film reflects a very important nationalism in the 30s.
A notion of: The rest of the world stinks and we are still better at home.
Moreover, we often criticized the film his side a little too propagandist.

There are differences between the film and the book:

     1. The shoes of the wicked witch of the east are silver and not red in the literary version. Of course the film being technicolor, it turned out to be a wise choice to choose a color a little more radiant.

    2. The film version is also much more watered down, I admit I felt a little bad when Dorothy uses an axe to decapitate a cute little kitten!

We can note references to “The wizard of Oz” in heaps of other works of pop cultures: “Futurama, Matrix …”, but also in the music industry…

I’m sure we can blame The wizard of Oz for everything, but what we can not deny is its importance and its repercussions in today’s culture.
It will remain forever a monument of American cinema, a must-see film and without hesitation always one of my favorite films.