Friday, March 02, 2007

the departed

I recently saw The Departed. It wasn't bad, but like many such movies, the excessive hype led to me being disappointed by the film. The acting was good but the ending seemed more messy than necessary.

By the way, I'm starting to reach that age where I realize that pretty much every story has been told before. For example, The Departed was actually a remake of a Hong Kong thriller called Infernal Affairs. I'm actually looking forward to seeing the original film since, based on the little I've read about it so far, the plot is somewhat more elegant and less "messy" than The Departed.

Also, both Deep Cover (Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum) and No Way Out (Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman) were older films which dealt with similar themes (double-identity and divided loyalties) in ways which I found more compelling. I highly recommend them.

By the way, No Way Out was a remake of an even older film called The Big Clock (based on a novel of the same name). For me, this all connects to some of the issues raised in the dead white males post. If there are only so many stories, it makes sense to ask which is the best example of a given type and form the canon. The tragic love story. The heroic quest. The road trip. The buddy cop film. etc. There are only so many myths... so many archetypes.

Grenada's past:
deep cover


HilbertAstronaut said...

Well... there are "only so many archetypes," but part of the use of archetypes involves _how_ the story is told. This is where the creative tension between the universal and the specific manifests itself.

You'll find this in religion too -- for example, how do we speak of God in God's all-powerful, universal abstractness, without using human languages? Any human language is the product of a specific culture and a time. The creative tension there comes from the challenge of using that specific language in a way that appeals to us specific, physical, non-abstract human beings, without violating the universality and abstractness of God.

I'm a fan of the German folk tales collected by the Grimm Brothers. Those stories are all about archetypes (you can sometimes guess the archetype from the title), yet the pleasure I get from reading them comes from the creative interpolations and the harmonious interplay of the different elements. Children seem to appreciate stories in a similar way -- they _enjoy_ knowing what will happen next, and for them the pleasure comes from the retelling -- the facial expressions, vocal inflections, and the slight variations in the storyline.

Actually I saw The Departed -- I'm not a big fan of those kind of tension-filled cop movies, but the acting was good ;)

Abdul-Halim V. said...

thanks for your comments... i think i would agree with a lot of what you wrote.

in terms of story-telling... the cultural specificity definitely does show up in terms of how the story is told. In fact, I actually like watching a lot of movies.. especially remakes of the "same" story because it is interesting to compare and contrast which elements get preserved and which get changed.

For example, Othello, O (set in an American high school) and Omkara (set in the Indian gansterish political scene) are the "same" but they reveal alot about the society which made them.

In terms of religion, I think you raise an interesting question/issue. Personally I would say that for me, Islam is "transparent to its own specificity" if that makes sense. I definitely see the particularity but I would say that it is de-emphasized in a way which lets the universal aspect shine through.

HilbertAstronaut said...

Abdul-Halim V. said: Personally I would say that for me, Islam is "transparent to its own specificity" if that makes sense.

Actually that makes a lot of sense -- that's a great concise way to put it :) and I think it's a sensible approach for religions that see themselves as "rooted in history" -- developing out of a particular voice at a particular time, but valid and intended for all time.