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fantastic Cinema : welcome to the Interzone

The leitmotif of the Feast Naked, a novel by William S. Burroughs adapted to film by David Cronenberg, has not finished to haunt the imagination of movie-goers. Some aficionados of the fantastic genre today use this term to name the place, uncertain, and unique, in which some of the characters come to go astray, and from which they emerge deeply changed. Especially in terms of their sensory cues and moral of a reality that they believed they were up here to know to the point that it seems a no-brainer.

But these trips to Interzone, both snapshots and suspended out of time, prove often to the minds of the most cartesian of the big screen, that reality is not something unchangeable, devoid of attachments and antechambers. Grosso modo, it is possible for the viewer to interpret these areas of strange nested inside a story in under four approaches, I propose to explore here !

 

THE PARALLEL DIMENSION

Unlike the other three approaches, the parallel dimension explicitly defined as such in dialogues or choice of narratives, necessarily implies that the narrative in question belongs to the fantastic genre. Le Festin Nu had made the bold choice to place his Interzone in The North of Africa, leaving enough inaccuracies in these data, geographical and cultural, to give him the aura of mysterious of a place legendary, and probably exaggerated in its extraordinary character, by the spirit of the protagonist.

But generally, when one is as screwed up as the hero, which only locates the place where it is located on a map or a GPS, it is that we just switch with him in a parallel dimension. Example of the most revealing, as Christopher Nolan proposed with Interstellar, a very “kaleidoscopic” an area that does not meet our design and our understanding of ordinary time and space.

In the same year as Interstellar, the filmmaker Jonathan Glazer proposed with Under The skin, a vision that was diametrically opposed to the parallel dimension. Here, visual effects are dizzying, the british director chooses to portray the inability of the human brain to visualize a dimension governed by an extraterrestrial intelligence, by a décor uniformly black, with no real forms or limitations.

Professor of scenario John Truby, shall appoint one of the essential steps of a narrative “narrow gate, fork, yoke, vision of death”, claiming that the hero must, before you achieve or miss its purpose, a glimpse of his own mortality in the last half hour of a movie. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows uses the concept of Truby just before the final battle between the young wizard and his nemesis Voldemort. The dramatic tension is suspended for the time of a scene, a trip with Harry to a place that is strangely ethereal, a sort of vision like a ghost from the train station of King’s Cross, serving both as a valve between epic moments and evocation of the place where the adventure of our hero began. But in contrast to the three examples cited above, the instant travel is not to be regarded as a physical journey, but rather as a spiritual journey. This parallel dimension would therefore be to situate it in the head of Harry.

 

THE DREAM

Classic, effective, abundant; the dream can involve surreal images or disturbing, in a story that does not belong necessarily to the fantastic genre. Variation of the example of Harry Potter, the dream allows you to dive into the mind of the protagonist, adopt his vision distorted, exaggerated, or a sense of things, or even to live an adventure dream-like’Alice exploring Wonderland, in the novel of Lewis Carroll. The dream may be a premonition, and allow the character to extrapolate on what might happen in the rest of the story; the most memorable is Mulholland Drive , where David Lynch plays with our fears of the viewer. The tension monte crescendo, an ending traumatic seems inevitable, and we cannot clearly say whether we are witnessing a real event or a dream of the character, which bites its own tail like the snake of the phrase.

In The Artist by Michel Hazanavicus, there is another form of parenthesis in a story, that not rise to be a nightmare once the hero wakes up in sweat in his bed. The particularity of this scene comes from its dimension at the time intradiégétique (in relation with the universe of the story) and extradiégétique (related to technical issues or structural conditions that relate to the creators of the film). Here, the character of George, actor dumb undermined by “the talkies”, is found the time of a nightmare in a world of sound. Yet the world in which develops normally George is not a mute world, its characters can hear and make noise; this is for the viewer that the film is silent. So George experienced, therefore, the impact of a staging designed in reality to the public, making him realize that he is in his reality actor, dumb, and in our reality the character of a silent film. No wonder that such a mise en abîme of the story wakes up with a start !

In the case ofInception, the structure in the form of matrioshka dolls is both more complicated and more simple, since it does not break the fourth wall separating our reality from that (or those) characters. If the principle of dreams nested sometimes prevents the viewer to discern which is the reality in the story, drowned in the forms and sub-forms; the pleasure in the show that made Nolan is perhaps, in the end, its total artificiality.

 

HELL

If these first two concepts can be explicitly defined in the structure of the story as in the dialogues; it is interesting to draw a parallel between the passage from a fictional character into a world that to him is unknown, with the limits of our own world. Our imagination and our spiritual beliefs lead us to consider another form of existence beyond what we experience and feel in our lifetime. Returning to the analysis of John Truby, one is tempted to look more closely at the journeys of lives, a hero of the big screen, in order to discern whether the turning of a scene, he has not crossed the threshold unseen in hell.

In Sorcerer de William Friedkin, for example, we can consider the twists, turns, successive endured by the main characters, as so many steps leading inexorably to hell : the highest form of anguish and despair. In designing the place where gets lost the story is the hell of this story, so we can expect to see gushing flames vast landscapes charred and barren. But Friedkin takes advantage of the geography of the Dominican Republic, which is sublimated by the light and the photograph twilight, to evoke a hell’s cooler, more mineral, causing it to lose its references to the protagonist, to the point that it seems to cross a valley of the Moon, Mars, or a planet unknown.

Alexandre Aja says that the bar scene in Shining, is the best representation on the big screen of a pact with the devil. If one assumes that Stanley Kubrick was also the devil in the strange figure of the barman created by Stephen King; in this case, when Jack, the main character, crosses the threshold of the ballroom at the bottom of which the bar is located, it passes not from one era to another, but from one world to the other. The characters from out of nowhere and dressed like in the roaring twenties, suggest a time warp disrupts the coherence of the reality inside of the Hotel Overlook. But if this place populated, animated, frozen in an era known for its festivals, there was, in the end, the kingdom of an evil god, more charming and more perverse than his confrere of the above, appearing with all the friendliness in the eyes Jack, the better to encourage them to fall back into alcoholism.

If hell can be a place, the room of a haunted house, a desert, a club for sado-maso; it can also be a particular time in the history of the protagonist, a segment of the story. In The Lair of madness of John Carpenter, the character of Trent is conducting an investigation on a mysterious novelist, a inquiry which turns into a nightmare as the detective finished paranoid and tells his story from a mental asylum. At the end of the film, an epilogue shows Trent wandering in a world ravaged by the apocalypse, and taking refuge in a cinema, which broadcasts precisely The Lair of madness (the pit will have our skin). Revealing character in fiction, our hero does not know if he should laugh or cry; and for the spectator, it may consider this cruel joke of metaphysics is a proof that there is a hell, or rather a terminus to the successive stages of the hell as to the successive stages of a horror movie.

 

THE PARADISE

If a hero can make a stopover in hell, it is also possible to find the paradise; and as for the kingdom of the Evil one, it is more judicious to consider the district of Saint-Pierre as a moment of the story, rather than a geographic location. Entering into a series of twists, turns, challenging for the protagonist, the paradise offers an outcome where the spirits are soothed and relieved of their torments, in contrast to the hell that is condemned to suffer eternally.

Opens his eyes finds precisely the wanderings psychological character of Caesar, which we hitherto believed to lead to hell, by a twist to the ambience is minimalist and surreal. Caesar crosses a Madrid empty, silent, lit by a soft light, and learns of a character comparable to a guardian angel, that he could advance towards a better world. The clarity of the image, the smiling benevolent of a character dressed in white, virginal in the judeo-christian culture, the set of symbols used by Alejandro Amenabar, suggests that Caesar is not dreaming but that it is actually in the process of moving to another form of existence, soothed and confident.

Like Opens his eyes, Barton Fink concludes also on a heavenly vision, the codes are both similar and different since it is a beach, and a gorgeous blonde woman, worthy of a postcard the old-world charm. If the Coen brothers use it before all of this Romantic image of California as a counter-walk to the misadventures of Barton in the cutthroat world of Hollywood, the viewer can also interpret this postcard in which took refuge the character as being the paradise. If the place soothes the tortured mind of Barton in providing an idealized vision of the world, and rid the beauty of all of this that the parasite, this final scene adds a touch of the bittersweet to the movie since the goals of the character are not achieved and that it is found here as a prisoner of a goal of existential unattainable.

 

CONCLUSION

Let us draw the analogy that is made between the cinema and the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri : if a story has a hell and a paradise, it has also a median zone corresponding to the central part of the work of the Italian poet : the purgatory. By reinterpreting the stories through this cosmogony, we find a metaphysical sense, to narratives very different where the protagonists make a stop in purgatory to reconsider their actions and their choices, and weigh the weight of their souls, human and fragile. In some cases, a final revelation allows us to reconsider the entire story, as the purgatory of his character. The Ladder of Jacob d’Adrian Lyne is a perfect example, since all the psychological torments and the sequences scary experienced by Jacob, prove to be the final part of a series of moral trials that the character faces just before they die and ask the balance of his life.

A “cosmogony full of the story” also has another interest for the interpretation of the viewer, who must not necessarily be focused on only one of the four approaches mentioned in this article. One can superimpose two readings at the interzones; a dream or a parallel dimension can in fact be an echo of metaphorical purgatory. So, for example, the spiritual journey of Harry Potter in the version ethereal King’s Cross here would be a pretext to question the last time the quest of the young hero before his decisive choice, the right of life or death over his enemy. And the discovery of the dimension of extra-time of Interstellar, would be for the character of Joseph, an opportunity to rethink his sacrifice to the father and to the failure of the space mission, and cure of these two fault at the same time, with the blessing of an authority, a metaphysical superior. And the limbo where wander Dom and Saito in Inception ? Is this not a dimension between hell and paradise in which our characters cannot be extracted, due to the weight of guilt and resentment, acquired in their previous “lives ?

Dear readers, I leave with you; the movie theater is cool, but let’s not forget the tv series. I will go and watch the last episode of Lost, it seems that it is awesome!!!

Arkham

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