Thursday, July 14, 2011

"No Reason"

Rubber, a French independent film, contains a monologue by the lead actor that declares ‘Things happen for no reason. ‘No reason’ is a part of every great movie’. Well, there’s invariably some explanation in movies that incorporate sci-fi or fantastic elements, some reason why things are the way they are. Superhero movies always have the origin story. Inception has a throwaway line or two about dreamwalking technology being developed by the U.S. military, a brilliant crossover from fantasy into techno-fantasy. Why is the Terminator indestructible? It has a “hyperalloy combat chassis”. There’s a perceived need to explain it to the viewer, to give us some reason why things are the way they are. That’s what we want.

But sometimes, the greatest things are deliberately left unexplained, or given an ambiguous explanation. I’ve always liked how Highlander’s powers worked; the characters themselves don’t have an explanation for them, and their effects on physical reality are almost random. That’s awesome! Being unaware of the tricks being played on you is part of movie magic, so it’s not illogical that their counterparts in the film itself could be good as well. Understanding is great, but for entertainment, sometimes inscrutability can be a virtue.

**EDIT**: I cheated just a touch: this has been sitting on my desktop since before I went to San Francisco, but I did't quite remember to post something today so I snuck this in at the deadline. Still on track for a post every day!

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