The Late Homework blog is BACK get ready to expose some stuff with Reb and Shef. First up FILMS.
Okay let’s start with my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film--Rear Window. This was the first Hitchcock film I saw in high school and still remains to be my favorite because of its compelling story style and relatability. It also has all of my favorite story elements: romance, love, stalking (I’m sorry!! But I’ve probably stalked your Facebook or Insta at some point!! I’M ONLY HUMAN).
What’s incredible about this film is not just the stellar acting and cinematography, but the way it goes about exposing the truth and stringing the watcher into a false sense of security. It is a murder mystery like any other, but what sets it apart is the pure simplicity of it all. Here is a man trapped in his room and he is bored so he does what all of us claim we have never done which is spy on his neighbors.
Even in just choosing this way to tell the story Hitchcock is exposing something about all of us--how we secretly want to know what’s going on in the lives of all who are around us. We are discovering the story right along with the protagonist and that is why we think we know how it will end and are just as shocked at the twist as the devilishly handsome Jimmy Stewart (see The Philadelphia Story if you want to swoon more).
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Speaking of swooning, I unapologetically love this film and it definitely exposes my inner most feminine desires. Once again Pride and Prejudice has incredible acting and cinematography (the scene where Keira Knightley is standing on Stanage Edge is so stunning it has been known to drive people to tears, okay me it has been known to drive me to tears).
But what’s so great about this film is how a story that is supposed to take two centuries ago can still be so relevant to modern times. What Elizabeth wants is everything I ever wanted from ages 5-16, which was to fall in love with someone who actually cares about who I am as an independent woman. This dynamic of pride versus prejudice is so relatable because despite all their differences they still can’t help but fall for each other.
I’ve always been really into romance and it wasn’t until I was older that I realized so much of what I watched as a child was so severely gendered and unrealistic. Looking back on P&P (as the cool kids call it), I still think this story gives Elizabeth a strong feminist voice and a path to be different and outspoken in a world where this would have been frowned upon. You can see so clearly the escapism that Jane Austen was going for and is still so relevant today as the battle of sexism rages on. It also shows the importance of femininity and love and that these can be strong characteristics for any leading character regardless of gender.
What I also loved was the family dynamic between the mother, father, and sisters. This annoyance they all found with the mother and embarrassment at each other at different events (Mary playing the piano at the party is heartbreaking), but also the deep love they all still have for one another despite the ups and downs of the story.
White God (2015)
I'm not going to lie, this is a hard movie to watch, but boy does it have staying power. White God follows the fallout of the separation of Hagen, a mixed-breed dog, from his loving guardian, a twelve year old girl named Lili after her father refuses to pay a state-imposed "Mongrel" fine. Sounds like a classic kid-and-their-dog film, but it's a far cry from Lassie. It's relentless and b r u t a l.
Hagen is met with violence and abuse by the other humans he encounters while roaming the streets, and he's ultimately taken in by a dogfighting trainer (again, it's a very hard movie to watch). Hagen ultimately makes an escape, and the film culminates in a breathtaking (amazingly not CGI) scene of thousands of masterless dogs joining him in rebellion against humans. It's a fantastical scenario taking place in a world that's no different than the one we live in now.
White God is a not so subtle parable for the ways in which people-- especially WHITE people-- have deemed themselves all-powerful (i.e. GODS) over other races, cultures, and the natural world in general. It's a reminder that rebellion won't always be peaceful when those rebelling have been met with tremendous violence for so long, and forces the viewer to consider the many ways in which we are complicit in this violence every day. By depicting the brutality of the human-animal hierarchy we accept as status quo, White God opens the door to consider and question the other hierarchies we blindly accept. White God reminds us not to accept what we've been told is "normal" or "nature."
This relationship between human master and animal servant is only made more questionable by the fact that the two dogs who play Hagen give honestly touching performances. There's nothing like an oscar-worthy dog performance to remind you that animals aren't the real savages here.
There's probably a lot more that can be said about this, but I'll just leave you with the reassuring news that all of the dogs that were used in the film were rescues and adopted after filming! Isn't that nice?