Sometimes when I feel like winding myself up (and for some reason the Daily Hate’s website isn’t working) I look up films I’m either fond of or have seen very recently on IMDB.
Beneath the ‘fact-check’ or who’s who, the obligatory ‘FAQ’ and ‘Trivia’ sections and above the (Please God NO!) reviews, there’s purple box of discussion threads… in which live the parasitic opinions of self aggrandising fourteen-year-olds (Pot… kettle…).
I came across one recently for the dark sci-fi film ‘Splice‘.
The lead comment went as follows:
“I just saw it on video
, and, well, it was bizarre. But obviously , it was meant to be that bizarre and extreme in order to get the point across about science, morality and the like, right? It’s just that I’m not quite sure what that point is? Or am I looking too deep and this was just a *beep* crap movie? Thoughts?”
Whilst I can vaguely agree with the importance of a film having a ‘point’, this user seems to have become rather hung up on the idea of their being a ‘moral’ to a story.
The ‘moral’ in stories is a very simplistic piece of deconstruction. The zoological equivalent of identifying that some animals have legs. It’s a good start, but there’s a hell of a lot more than that going on.
The thing is I’m even vaguer on a film (or any story for that matter) necessarily having to have a ‘point’. Some stories are inherently pointless. All quiet on the Western Front, Figures in a Landscape, Ulysses. All of which tell stories of characters who don’t really grow, or change, and are usually destroyed by a cold, unforgiving senseless world. What’s the point?
If anything asking ‘what’s the point’ is probably the most important ‘point’ of these pieces.
So, if a story doesn’t have to have a ‘point’ or a ‘moral’, what is it that separates it from just being a bunch of crap that happens?
A lot of it is in the way it’s told. Arthur C Clarke wrote impeccably well thought out and researched science-fiction, but his prose and characters were so atrocious that I haven’t read anything of his in over a decade and a half. Whereas Herman Melville and Jane Austen can write entire chapters about the awkwardness of asking someone to dance on a partially flayed whale (it’s been a while since I read Moby Dick) and I’ll gleefully re-read it because it’s (dare I say it) fun.
Splice, however, falls some way away from the kind of mindless fun that characterises, say, ‘The Rock’.
Instead it dwells on parenthood and uncomfortable issues such as infanticide, incest and rape. But these aren’t there just for the sake of being shocking. Rather the film feels like an exorcism of fears. It doesn’t give answers or ram a ‘THIS IS WHAT NOT TO DO!’ down the viewers throat, but credits the audience with the ability to react and come to the conclusion by themselves.
Also, don’t have sex with genetically modified lizard people!