Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Silent Hill (2006)

Excerpt of: Silent Hill Movie via Official Blog by Andrea Rubenstein [tekanji].

You would think that a movie that has women as the main protagonists would be a progressive step forward in terms of the portrayal of women in film. With Silent Hill, you would be wrong.

I went into the movie with the skepticism of a fan who has seen many of her favourite video games (not to mention books) ripped to shreds when they reach the big screen. I had heard that the movie was pretty good, and I was cautiously optimistic over the female protagonist who didn’t seem to fit the “sexy woman who kicks ass” paradigm that seems to have become a requirement for female heroes. I was even more interested when it was shown that the other protagonist would be a cop who, it seemed, just happened to be female.

Despite the lack of the lead pipe (I know, how could someone say they were being true to the series and not give the lead pipe some airtime??), I remained cautiously optimistic as the storyline got going. The cinematography was excellent. It was fun to recognize the monsters populating the town. The plot was both close enough and far enough from Silent Hill 1 to bug me a bit, but I never got the chance to play through all of the game so I could take it.

But, then, near the middle I started getting a sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw the themes that were emerging. By the end of the movie I wanted to throw something at the screen. Spoilers and mild rape triggers follow!

I. The Characters
The characters in the movie were both the best and the most frustrating part about it. Women, not men, were the spotlight characters; from the main protagonist, to her helper, to the main villain, and beyond. It’s rare in films of this genre, even films that are trying to make a point about gender, for there to be so many visible women in main, supporting, and extra roles.

But this was proven to be a double edged sword; none of the female characters were just incidentally female; it was all part of a larger reaching set of tropes and symbolism which will be discussed in more detail later.

First I’d like to give an overview of the female main characters. While a reading of the male characters is necessary for a full understanding of the portrayal of gender in the movie, I’m focusing specifically on what was done with the women and therefore in the interest of space I won’t be discussing the men.
II. Symbolism
The two main themes of motherhood and witchcraft are female oriented and therefore undoubtedly played a role in selecting the gender of the main cast. Although not necessarily bad themes in themselves, they create a troublesome picture when they manifest in the movie and also the way that they juxtapose with the recurrent themes of Christianity.
III. Female Fault
If it was one thing that this movie sent home, it was that all the bad things that happened in Silent Hill were the fault of women.

Read the rest of the article at Official

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