. I saw it. Last night, with Adam, alizarin71
and our upstairs neighbor. It was a fun outing. But SUCH a stupid movie. It is possible that my extreme tiredness made me prone to the severe crankiness I experienced upon leaving the theatre. Besides being a ridiculous hodgepodge of culture, archeological, geographical and historical elements and being pretty dull in plot, the film also triggered one of my major pet peeves: a movie made by men all about men, featuring nothing but men (I'm sorry, two women characters don't count).
Yet when I enumerate the good things about this film I wonder why I'm so annoyed. Here are the good things about the movie:
+Beautifully shot, great art design, nice music
+Features hardly any white people!! *(BUT...)
+The love interest saves herself at the end *
+Great values - loyalty, keeping your word, being brave, stepping up to responsibility, affection between men, banding together in unity makes great things possible *
+Very well done special effects
+No sex or nudity or swearing (how rare is that in a grown up movie??)
I want to add silly escapist fun to that list, but honestly the movie was kind of boring. Very formulaic. We know what's going to happen. Let's get to those Buts:
-There were hardly any white people, or at least plain white faces. However, the two whitest faces were the main man and woman. Perhaps I'm just picking a fight on this point, but I don't think so. There was some legend about a blue eyed woman, blah blah blah, so the main girl wore these horrible blue contacts, making her look vapid since her pupils never changed in size. Not something we think about normally, but try reading a face whose pupils never alter. Weird.
-The love interest/main woman (Evolet) does indeed save herself when she is taken by one of the baddies in the end. Which was great
. And she does show strength of character and resourcefulness throughout the film. But the movie isn't about her, even though she's the reason D'let (main guy) goes on this journey. Evolet is a woman to whom things happen. In that regard she is a completely passive woman. Her lines, which are few, consist mainly of "You came back for me" "You left me behind" etc. Pah! The other woman is the main tribal elder, the seer-woman. But she also doesn't DO anything. Again, she is a passive woman to whom visions come. I AM SO BORED WITH THIS FEMALE TROPE.
-The values of the film are great. I wholly support them - for men or for women. Yet repeatedly these values are only demonstrated by men and discussed in male terms. There is a great set of lines where Tik'tik, D'let's mentor and tribal chief, tells D'let that "Every man
draws a circle around himself. For most men
that involves himself, his woman
and his children. Some men
draw a larger circle that encompasses his larger family and maybe his tribe. But some men
draw an even bigger circle that encompasses even more people." (paraphrased, emphasis mine) I guess women don't need to think about their own boundaries since we're just objects to be won and bred with. Where are the movies showing women acting valiantly, with strength and honor and dedication to a higher cause? Oh, I'm sure they're out there, but let's also clarify this: where are those movies with women embodying those values without being martyrs or at the expense of their male counterparts
I also think that so many of modern middle class films employ the "band together and rise up against injustice/usurpers!" motif and I am continually confused by this. Do we like this and relate because it reminds us of our early American history? Because we sure as hell ain't banding together to overthrow injustice, tyranny or theocracy today. In the film, the tribal people band together to free their people from slavery at the hands of the greedy, religiously insane proto-Egyptians building their pyramidical symbols of power and largesse. So we root for these tribes - they are in the right! Down with tyranny! But do we connect this kind of injustice with sweat shop labor? Or migrant produce pickers? Or sex trafficking? Or even religious hegemony in our own modern politics? Of course we don't. Do we just live vicariously through these characters? That's my guess. Better to support honor and loyalty and bravery in the face of injustice in fictional characters than have to be those things ourselves.
Ok, I may be taking a silly movie out of context. Sure. Each movie on it's own is fine, but when we have the vast majority of films with this sort of structure, and CERTAINLY the vast majority of films made by men about men for men, I do not think I'm overreacting. [This is where I get shit for loving 300
. I do see the irony, the hypocrisy. I still maintain that 300
is camp. I also still have no problem with people liking individual films. Hell, if I hated every misogynist, patriarchal film I'd never like anything. By the way, no comments on 300
. I'm looking at you Alizarin!]
As an experiment, I decided to reorder my netflix queue to reflect movies about women (for example, Fellini films about women don't count) or by women - 22 out of 170. I've decided that I need a break from all this maleness. So for some undefined period of time I will only listen to music by women, watch films about women and/or by women, and read books by and/or about women. Depending how long I decide to do this I may have to make an exception in June for the first opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle at the SF Opera. And of course, there's the new Batman
film coming out this summer AND the Ironman
movie (both movies made by men about men, superheroes no less) starring the immeasurably wonderful Robert Downy Jr. But those I can catch on DVD if need be.
It's not that I hate men, it's that I loathe the patriarchy.