March 28, 2013
CINE 322 401
Movies in the Real World Assignment
Film: Dead Man Down
Directed by: Niels Arden Oplev
Written by: J.H. Wyman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace
Venue: Regal Cinemas, King of Prussia Mall
Time of Day: 7pm
The ticket cost was 12 dollars, which is very expensive, in my opinion. The ticket taker asked if I had a Regal Card, which I did not. The Regal Card gives a discounted ticket price, I assume. The line was rather long, given that many customers now purchase tickets in advance online or through a mobile device. There was only one person working the ticket booth. There were about fifteen people on line. The Regal cinema plays fourteen different films.
I do not like coming the this particular theater, because it has the longest lines of any theater that I go to, from Plymouth Meeting, to Oaks, to Collegeville, and the Ritz theaters in Philadelphia. Part of the reason that the lines are so long here is that the processing of Regal Cards causes a delay in the transaction. Another reason for longer and slower lines here is that it seems that most people use credit cards when they buy tickets. I also think that the design of the queue is more unwieldy than other theaters. Most theaters process customers from one line that calls on the next available ticket taker. At this theater, there are different lines for each ticket booth. One would think that this would make for a speedier processing, but it does not.
Typical ‘MC” theater’: nothing distinctive or noticeable. Huge advertisements for coming attractions loom from ceiling mounted wires, bright colors blink and flash from the gleaming candy concessions, the carpet is a cacophony of loud colors. People mill about heading to and from restrooms, line up for snacks and talk on cell phones, or wait for people that are buying tickets.
There is only one older black man in the theater when I enter. Commercials are showing on screen. The seating is pseudo stadium style, with a generous sprinkling of seats in the lower tiers laid out in a semi circular arrangement. The rear portion is separated by an elevated portion that has a railing set up and a wide aisle between the lower and upper seating. The stairs on the side of the seating are well lit and the seating provides accommodations for resting gigantic containers of liquid for drinking. The theater is nice and clean. There is no debris littering the floors. There are accommodations in the seating arrangements for handicapped accessible seating. There are cut outs between seats in the rows separating the front and the rear that accommodate wheelchairs. It is important to note, however, that the screening room does not have emergency exits for wheelchairs. The exits are located in the front of the theater near the screen, and there are stairs leading down to them, which would make exiting in the event of a fire very difficult for handicapped people. This reminds me of the McRuer, Wilkerson article that tells us that access for the ‘disabled’ is designed to give the illusion of inclusion more than a true inclusion, and that this illusional inclusion denies access to the majority of the disabled while allowing for the access of an elite few due to the limitations of the physical structure. This designs a hierarchy that delimits who is acceptable for public inclusion and who is not. All of this complies with the heteronormative model of creating status based upon exclusion.
The screen is large and curved, rather than a flat sceen. During the commercials the sound only comes from the front two speakers. Lighting is on during the commercials. When the previews begin, the lighting dims and the sound emanates from all of the speakers, which are placed along the walls along the length of the theater.
A black couple enter the theater, holding a conversation at levels that seem to show that they are not aware that they are in a public venue that requires silence.
The lights darken as the movie begins.
Two elderly white ladies enter. They appear to be about sixty, because of their silver hair. They, too, seem to be unaware that one should speak in subdued tones at a movie.
I chose this movie because of its ties to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Niels Oplev directed both, so I wanted to see if there would be any similarities between the films. Noomi Rapace was cast in the original version of Dragon Tattoo so I wanted to see if that edgy, on the verge of doom persona would be evident in this film as well.
Well, no. I realize that these films are nothing alike, and that the director can only do what a script dictates be done, but the films share very little in aesthetic or style. The film is a standard revenge tale, with Colin Farrell’s character looking to avenge the murders of his wife and child. Rapace’s character bribes Farrell into murdering the man who caused her disfiguring car accident, and destroyed her life.
The film has traces of the noir sensibility. The ties to the crime thriller or gangster movie are the primary catalyst for the plot of this film. There is a moral ambiguity throughout, which is highlighted in the love story embedded within the tale of murder and revenge. Susan Hayward describes this ambiguity as a reflection of the society that is reflected by noir films. I had not previously been able to process this information beyond the abstract, but hearing the audience response showed me how this is true. The audience was very amused by the love story being told. There was plenty of laughing at the exchanges between Farrell and Rapace, despite the fact that he was a murderer and that Rapace was forcing him to murder again the audience did not seem to be repelled by that. This is a true reflection of our society. It may not reflect that we are oblivious to murder, per se, but that movie going audiences have become accustomed to violence as part of our entertainment.
I want to bring in the way that disability is positioned in this film. Rapace’s character is full of anger because her face has been disfigured in a car crash by a drunk driver who was only given three weeks in prison for the crime. Her life has been destroyed, kids on the street torment her. The word MONSTER has been carved into the door of her apartment. She has been unable to work and has had a series of operations to make her face more normal. But the disfiguring that we get is very prettily designed. A few well placed wounds on her face and ear, a strategic gash in her neck. All in all, the wounds seem to resemble a series of tattoos or tribal marks. How ironic that the girl with the dragon tattoo is continuing the tradition, but in this interpretation the tattoos are objects that mark her as disabled rather than just outcast.
Dead Man Down creates the Crip Fatale: the crippled woman who seduces so that the feminized man does whatever evil deed she needs done. What the Crip Fatale represents is the very specific inclusion that I touched on earlier, how the attractively designed (and therefore acceptable) crip is allowed acceptance into the general population and how the structure of our environment allows for her inclusion at the exclusion of other crips. Could the crip without arms have been cast in this movie, or one without legs?
Hayward, Susan. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006
McRuer, Robert and Wilerson, Abby L. “Introduction to Desiring Disability: Queer Theory Meets Disability Studies”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9.1-2 (2003): 1-23.