“No, I am supreme being, I protect you”
I believe this to be a key quote from the film, the fifth element, spoken by the female lead to male action hero Bruce Willis in response to him telling her his job is to protect her.
When this film was made, to have a female character, albeit, young, beautiful and on the surface, childlike, as you quite rightly make note of, be the character that saves the male action star Bruce Willis and then the entire world, (pretty much the same thing in Hollywood!), was quite radical. The film actually in many ways plays with and eventually, partly subverts the very tropes you’re highlighting. The male characters are all seen as bumbling and single minded, driven by their ego or greed. The female character of Leeloo knows more about the universe and the goal of the plot than anyone else. She physically saves the male characters many times over. She is the hero of the film. But it only goes so far and you’re right to point out the limiting aspects of this character type but I also think it pays to go deeper and ask where this character type comes from and why it’s ‘appealing’, mostly to a male audience. For that we all need to start having a much deeper conversation and exploration of very early, human developmental psychology and how we all cope in very different ways with the central ‘problem’ of the mother figure and our separation from that figure in our early pre-verbal and then adult lives. The societal attitudes we all have towards each other often sub-consciously grow from this early, pre-verbal conundrum. And each pathway has its issues and challenges for all of us to overcome throughout our lives. It’s good to question these archetypes but also so important to take it further and understand what deep longing they ‘satisfy’ and why stories have so often included them.
I think we have to try and go deeper than overly simplistic, surface ideas of the male gaze to get to the root of the drive.
Stories tell us about our secret selves but they do it in code. If we are to genuinely evolve, rather than simply outlawing or changing the stories we tell we need to go back to the moment we crawled out of the sea and find out the true origin of why we were driven to tell them in the first place.
I have to say, this video made me laugh. Two guys puzzling over why a director they claim makes amazing films has made yet another film that is deliberately inaudible and almost impossible to follow.
Few directors seem to be able to consistently frustrate a large proportion of their audience and still command such reverent respect. I think often complexity is being mistaken for depth with the idea that if I have to struggle to understand something then it must be a thing worth understanding.
Although I completely understand why Nolan is praised so highly by many people and I enjoy his films for what they are, (cryptic crosswords not philosophical treaties), I have always found his convoluted plots, where new rules of the imaginary world are constantly injected to override previously invented rules, employed solely to shoehorn in a visually arresting sequence a sign of rather weak and lazy writing. I do it all the time in my own writing which is likely why it frustrates me when I see it on screen.
This use of escalating complexity creates a puzzle that, like a crossword gives us little new insight or meaning. They're fun to figure out but as a distraction not an examination of anything.
Purposefully inaudible dialogue, just feels like another attempt to obfuscate in the hopes of adding to this deliberate complexity but in the end there's a real danger that if you can't read the clues why bother spending two hours doing the crossword - unless of course Nolan just wants you to have to pay to watch his films twice to understand them!
I'm a film fanatic and thought I loved the cinema but I've been quite surprised to find that the experience of going out to watch a film is way down on my list of social events that I'm missing, in fact I'd go as far to say that I haven't missed it at all. And I don't think it's just the fact that it still seems risky to sit in a room with a group of mask/popcorn nosebag, wearing strangers for 2 hours. After all my friend went to watch Tenet last week and was alone in the theatre so it can be quite safe.
I think what's happened is that the enforced break from the cinema has caused me to simply let go of something which was already on its way out. In truth things had changed, even before Corona. Screens have shrunk over the years and are so often creased or marked. Digital projection is often badly up-rezzed and soft. The sound bleeds through from the movie playing next door and the choice of non-franchise comic book movies has dwindled. I saw 'The Lighthouse' at my local cinema last year and it was cropped off at the wrong aspect ratio and turned into green and white by the over zealous fire exit lights.
The only real draw the cinema has left for most people is a false one - The availability of new releases. Once studios begin to realise they can inflate the price of a digital premiere release and make the same or likely even more money than their cut at the cinema, that remaining unique feature will surely no longer be worth protecting.
We can watch more or less anything we want whenever and wherever we want and I can't help feeling that this enforced break has made the cinema seem as obsolete as an Internet cafe. "Damn honey, the pandemic closed down the building where we go to watch movies, what the hell are we going to do now?!." Click. Netflix/iTunes/Amazon logo appears on TV screen and hundreds of movies begin to tile across it. (I still haven't touched the back wall of the Netflix cave, it feels like a full time job some nights.)
When a habit or way of thinking isn't used for a while we tend to loose it. There's a gap that becomes filled with another habit and I'm afraid that might be happening to me. I can feel the cinema synapse, slowly closing down and growing over no matter how much Nolan tries to wedge it open with his clumsy, 70mm IMAX forceps.
And if a total film fanatic like myself is thinking like this, will people who don't care about the medium, really get into their cars and drive to "the building where they show the movies" once it's safe to go back?
I think I will be heart broken, to see cinema's disappear but the pandemic may not spare this particular elderly and infirm institution, I hope I am very wrong.
R.I.P dear multiplex, I will never forget you. Click. Netflix logo appears.
Hey Micah, What a great film!
You were so right to use this very special actor. He's just an absolute natural, so at ease with the camera, a rare find. The script, idea and filming are all perfect.
Sorry to ask a boring technical question but I'd love to know what equipment you used, particularly for sound. Thanks for such a great film and good luck with the feature. I'm definitely going to Peru!
I was going to say that young Werner Herzog would likely have scoffed at the idea of giving 5700 dollars to someone to tell you how to follow your own vision and that although I greatly admire him and his work, if you wanted to truly adopt his spirit you'd be better off buying the same flight you'll have to buy to Columbia anyway, ignoring the shuttle to the base and having a crazy film making adventure on your own in the Columbian jungle with that 5 grand.
But, then I became acutely aware, sat in my comfortable chair, making nothing but snide comments, that I wouldn't actually have the balls to do that, so I guess however you choose to become a soldier of cinema until you actually enter the battle your just polishing your rifle.
Maybe that's Werner's ulterior motive, to get us to get lost in any jungle we can afford and begin the fight, wherever we are!
Of course, I can't judge wether this is a 'good' film or not without watching it from beginning to end but I applaud anyone who can actually make any film and finish it.
That's a phenomenal achievement. Well done!
There is however something a little troubling about the tone of this article that, like many others here, had the complete reverse affect on me than I think the author wanted.
The power of self belief is a great fuel but it doesn't always get you where you want to go. Hubris corrected by humility and refined by humbleness is how one truly masters a craft. It takes time and a lot of small and large failures to get good at something. If all you see is excellence in your work you will never improve. There appear to have been no challenges faced or lessons learned here. You just did it all awesomely straight away. Hans zimmer - no problem I can do that - boom - don't know what the deal is Hans!
Even if this is true and you are some kind of film savant, it doesn't allow your reader any way in, we need a chink in your armour. I fear you have fallen a little foul of the prevalent idea that to be inspiring you must be epic - flawless. As a storyteller you should know that every hero must fail before succeeding if we are to relate to them fully.
What I hear in this filmmakers article, strangely, isn't a love of film or even much of an understanding of its language and craft, but a sort of flippant disrespect and disregard of the entire medium, its history and everyone involved in it. As I was reading, I kept thinking, why are you even making a film, other than to prove that the entire professional industry are incompetent suckers or charlatans?
So, despite your article, I am genuinely impressed that you and your wife have made a film yourselves and hope it finds an appreciative audience but maybe preach a little more humble, a little more human.
If you want me to follow in your footsteps, swagger a little less.