Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Motifs in Cinema 2013 - Man against Society

By Sati. Tuesday, February 25, 2014 , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Andrew of Encore's World of Film and TV is hosting his annual blogathon of Motifs in Cinema. I decided to pitch in and explore a theme that was present, one way or another, in many movies last year - Man against society. Whether those films featured characters fighting the law, government or the ideas followed by majority but not themselves, cinematic year of 2013 was filled with the acts of defiance.

Blue is the Warmest Color / Her
In both movies the characters are battling the idea of love those around them believe in. Adele is continuously bugged by her 'friends' who keep persuading her to date a guy and she is rejected by them when she falls in love with a girl. In Her while Theodore actually enjoys tremendous amount of support from his friends and colleagues, you can see just unconventional what he is doing - and that would be having a relationship with a computer program - is in the scene where he meets with his ex wife who mocks him. Both Adele and Theodore do what rebels do - they continue to love who they chose and not being bothered by those trying to take away the meaning and importance from the love they have in their hearts.

Stoker / Kings of Summer
Both in Stoker and Kings of Summer teenagers look for freedom and search for the answer to the question - who am I? India finds her liberation by accepting her true nature, while the boys attempt to build their own paradise far away from their lives, parents and worries. The point is - being a murderous psychopath and living in the woods is not exactly the society's approved way of growing up.

The Hunt

In provocative and shocking The Hunt, the main character Lucas is wrongly accused of having inappropriate relations with one of the kids in school. Even though Innocent until proven guilty should be the guidance for every society, he is being prosecuted by the people in his village on every step of the way, before any investigation even takes place. The Hunt beautifully shows Lucas' defiance - holding on to his innocence and dignity his oppressors don't show for one second.

Dallas Buyers Club

The film tells the real story of Ron Woodroof,  a man diagnosed with HIV virus who discovered that the treatment people receive in hospitals may not only be far from the best treatment there is, but also cause them to become more sick. Ron decides to fight the system and fight for his life, helping other victims of HIV along the way and having his homophobic nature challenged during his endeavors. Jean Marc Vallee's uplifting and touching movie shows that sometimes there is so much injustice and senseless prejudice and hatred in this world even imperfect, selfish people become so tired of it that they stand up and defend the others.

The Conjuring

In last year's best horror film, medium Lorraine Warren and her husband Ed, who worked as ghost hunters for years, help a family who has fallen victim to the ghost haunting. Real people aside, what Lorraine Warren does in this movie is extraordinarily brave - in the beginning of the film she mentions how people keep calling her and her husband freaks. And you know it to be true - people with abilities others don't understand always had to fight disbelief, fear and anger. And despite of this as well as horrible implications of Lorraine's gift, she continues to help those who need it most.

12 Years a Slave / Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
12 Years a Slave shows the defiance of Solomon Northup, a man kidnapped into slavery - he refuses to let go of his sense of worth, human dignity and the idea of freedom and he doesn't lose the hope of being rescued. While throughout the film he sees people who abandoned their hope, he refuses to let go. In Mandela we see a man so determined to lead his people towards equality and freedom he sacrifices his happiness and his own freedom and spends his life fighting for others.


The Wolf of Wall Street / Spring Breakers / The Bling Ring
In The Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort not so much challenges the society as he fights the whole world - here is a man so greedy, selfish and arrogant he doesn't believe anyone has the right to tell him what to do or to interfere with his illegal, amoral proceedings. He lives outside the law, much like Alien and the girls in Spring Breakers, who abandon the normal way of living for the sake of money and crime. In The Bling Ring bunch of spoiled kids choose even easier way to what they want - instead of just buying their ways and using connections to good jobs and ultimately becoming filthy rich, they steal. But here is a disturbing twist to all those movies - each crime, in the end, goes somewhat unpunished. Ordinary people still look at Jordan as if he was God, the kids from Bling Ring find fame and the two last girls standing from Spring Breakers are shown as heroines. And why?  Perhaps because choosing the easy way to things we want and getting them when we want them, is still a dream many have.

RELATED POSTS:

32 comments:

  1. What varied choices!

    I love how the different ways this motif is at work really gets to the root of why I love the idea of considering film against each other via themes. Jordan Bellfort and Solomon Northup could not be more different but on a completely base level they're both pushing against a world that they want to change (for worse, or for better.)

    This particular motif becomes a bit sad, though, when I consider HER and BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR in particular. At the end of the day Adele and Theodore defy the society with their love and still end up without their beloveds at the end of the day. Fighting against the world around you doesn't always end up with light after the tunnel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, it was a lot of fun thinking about this and finding that this was an underlying theme of so many movies.

      Yeah but they ended up without the love not because of society, it was through their own choices so that wasn't this bad. When it's society that keeps people apart, like in Brokeback Mountain, then it's genuinely heartbreaking.

      Delete
  2. Oh, that is fucking great. Especially in linking many films to another.

    ReplyDelete
  3. so many great examples of this theme. this was a really predominant theme this year.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Excellent post! You strung these perfectly and found new layers and reason to explore these films deeper! Love it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fantastic post! Really astute observations here on some great films. Wasn't a theme that had really come to mind but you're spot on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'd probably add more but I only saw under 100 movies from 2013 :)

      Delete
  6. Wonderful! I love your choices, especially The Hunt.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lot of good choices to pick this year. The Hunt and Dallas Buyers Club are probably some of the big and obvious choices. But what I like are not so obvious choices like Her. I like the way you defend your choices.

    But what I really love is your last group of films. Those aren't the ones that would spring right away into my mind but you are absolutely right about them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, glad you liked the list! Yeah I started thinking about this and there was just so much individualism in movies last year.

      Delete
  8. A great observation of the topic of last year, I'd add Struggle to the mix as well and we get Blue Jasmine and Gravity as well. I don't know if I find the time to write for this blogathon but I sure like the idea and well, I'm all for recurring motifs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hm, interesting with Jasmine and Gravity but I don't know how society fits in all of that...nervous breakdown and grief seem like universally defined ideas, unlike love for example.

      Delete
  9. Amazing post Sati! Gorgeous and I love the connections. The Blue and Her one breaks my heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Well, they were happy, at least for a little while. That's something :)

      Delete
  10. Love the post and the connections, some of which I didn't make myself. Good stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I have an eye for connecting things, I guess :)

      Delete
  11. Love this post. I was particularly fond of what you said about Wolf, Breakers, and The Bling Ring. Your final sentence pretty much perfectly sums up all three of those films.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, so glad you liked it!

      Delete
  12. Great post. You've made really interesting parallelisms between these stories, some of them my favorite films from 2013. The Hunt is one that really impressed me, how they treated Lukas was so heartbreaking, Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors, and he gives an amazing performance in that film.

    I also thought about the similarities between Wolf, Bling Ring and Spring Breakers and how they somehow portrayed their characters as "heroes". I had that feeling while watching them too.

    The parallels between Her and Adèle are amazing, I didn't thought about that before, same with Stoker and The Kings of Summer. There have been loads of coming of age films lately. I found very interesting all the Ron Woodroof's, knowing all he went through to get the medicines, specially since I'm studying law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh a law student? Been through that myself now I'm just a soulless lawyer :)

      From legal standpoint I found The Hunt fascinating and how these people were ready to destroy Lucas just based on rumor and hearsay and they didn't care about the lack of evidence. It happened in real life lately with Woody Allen and people voicing death treats basing them on one letter.

      Delete
  13. Great commentary, Sati. You argue every point very, very convincingly!

    ReplyDelete
  14. You always make such impressive graphics! Jealous.
    Great themes you've explored here. Completely agree with everything, especially with what you wrote about The Wolf of Wall Street, Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! These weren't so bad to make, the ones for my McConaughey post came close to driving me mad, though.

      Delete
  15. I still have a lot of catching up to do w/ the Motifs in Cinema posts, yours is the first one I read so far :D Great topic and pics here, so agree w/ all the ones I've seen, esp. The Hunt. The act of defiance when done the right way cinematically is quite powerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some really awesome posts in blogathon this year, you should check them out!

      Delete
  16. Ooh, wonderful picks! I love the variety of films you included and how you grouped some films together.

    ReplyDelete