Sunday, August 17, 2014

Précis #2 on John Carpenter’s They Live

So it’s just a typical science fiction and comedy (IMDB changed the category of the film “2012” from drama/sci-fi to comedy after Dec 12th 2012, yeah you know it) in the late 1980s, right after the second rise of the Hollywood’s New Wave, concentrating on the developing of smaller firms and independent filmmakers, or B-type movies.
The plot is also very easy to understand. The protagonist, Nada, had picked up a pair of sunglasses accidently which could see through the cover of the whole modern culture: The division/class system of the society and the broadcasting media companies are actually lunatic brainwashing. Those who had wear those sunglasses could see different things from the ordinary people: The billboards or advertisements hanging on skyscrapers or right at the neighborhood had changed from its own original contents to words like “buy”; posters about young hot girls are actually meaning of “Marriage and Reproduction”, and, more influentially, world like “Do not think” or “Obey” had appeared on the pages inside the magazines.
Again, it is just an anti-cultural system and an anti-utopian film. This kind of storyline is not rare to see in typical science fiction films, but it also is fresh att the time.
Actually, the film was based on the book Eight O’Clock in the Morning by Ray Nelson in 1963, while the actor of the male protagonist Roddy Piper was a WWE player. In the film, Nada had once saw a slogan in the base of the rebellion against the situation: They Live, We Sleep.
What’s more, the whole world would be looked through after wearing the sunglasses. Other than that, people wearing them would also notice that the world they see through the sunglasses was in black and white. Obviously, the director had assigned the scenes this way in order to show that the invention of colored TV had made people accepted the emotional stimulations without feeling it. Thus, people could be all frenzy among the lust of the excessive colors. In addition, people wearing the glasses could also see the real faces of the leading class and the aristocrats: they are the living deads.
Of course, the film had to be put on a tag of Alien movies. This is also the reason why those Aliens would look like the walking deads. It is because that people who ruled the society was chosen among those walking deads that Nada would had the appropriate and suitable reason for joining the rebellion in order to resist the alien force.
The invention of TV and broadcasting system had astonishingly increases the convenience of people communicating and passing on thoughts, The sense shown in the movie was expresses in several ways: TV had bring the people unlimited poisoning of their brain: Accepting anything without even the slightest thinking. In consequence, the world Nada could see is actually just “fake”: People think that they know everything about the world, but in fact they know nothing at all.
The film contained a sense of dark humorousness, and itself was upraised by its creative plot arranging. However, the fighting scene happened between Nada and Frank was actually pretty useless in the movie: it was just made to reach the “standards” of the Hollywood industry. Despite the fact that the character of the male protagonist did not really expresses all the emotions of facial expressions, and it is just another “hero saved the world” one, but anyway, They Live is a  good film to watch.


Eric Gentry said...

Wasn't the movie calling for a revolution in a sense? I felt like the movie was a sort of call to action. They aliens being the 1% who reign complete control over society. They allow others to grasp at the dangling carrot to keep us all reaching. They control the other rich people, like a power pyramid. Each block of the pyramid keeps those below in check; a buffer between the haves and have not's. To keep us all fighting each other, while they reap all the benefits the "TV station" has to offer.

Jo Hodaly said...

I like your mention of colors as a mode of distraction. However, do you mean to say that the invention of the colored tv was from the express need to glue people to the television and further distract them? While I agree with your sentiment that aesthetics are used to distract and disengage viewers, is it negative in itself? Obviously, art has the potential to be powerful, but should we say that when its powers are used to subjugate and distract, that those methods are corrupted? Also, do you think that this was the intention of the film in showing Nada's point of view through the glasses? Does this mean conversely that black and white doesn't possess the power to attract a viewer? For me, watching a well-photographed 35mm black and white movie print in a dark theater has just as much potential for distraction as a color film.

Leah Daoud said...

I really enjoyed your discussion of the use of color in the film. I can’t remember if we’d already discussed this in class, but the use of black and white in the “real” world as opposed to numerous shades in the illusion was particularly interesting. I do think it suggested that Carpenter wanted the physical black and white to reflect a different black and white - as in, the truth is black and white, there are only humans and aliens, only good and evil, etc. But, of course, this is all complicated by the human characters, who represent the moral grey, and side with evil.
All in all, this was a very-thought provoking precis, thank you!