Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Serenity - Part 1

The first movie I would like to talk about is Serenity, written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is one of my favorite movies by one of my favorite writer/directors, and you will see more from him later in this blog. Almost every scene in Serenity has some dialogue, situation, or character interaction that is just, well, awe-inspiring. You want to say, "Damn, that's good," as a tear rolls down your cheek. Let me explain:

The first ten minutes of the movie have some of the best dialogue and situations from any movie I've ever seen. The way Simon Tam rescues his sister, especially when he pulls the probe out of her forehead, is probably the first place where I lose it. We see the doctors and technicians casually talking about torturing a teen aged girl in front of, who we later find out to be, her brother! He has to continue with his deception as he watches her suffer.

Then we discover that what we are watching is a holographic replay of the events, and we meet The Operative. Calling him cold-blooded would be a disservice to other psychopaths, vampires, and reptiles. He speaks in calm measured tones of supreme confidence and belief in his own moral code. One of his great lines, after he explains to the doctor what he has done wrong, is:

"Secrets are not my concern. . . Keeping them, is."

Later on, he has this exchange with the doctor:

"You know, in certain older, civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords."

"Well unfortunately I forgot to bring a sword," the doctor replies, sort of half nervously, half sarcastically.

Then we hear a "zing" as The Operative produces a sword.

The doctor is shocked; we are surprised; The Operative is, well, he doesn't have any feelings: it's just what he does. It's a dramatic twist that you're not expecting, unless, of course, you are a Whedon fan. Then you just laugh or smile and say "damn, that's good" (writing). If you're like me, you tear up a little at the display of great writing while you are smiling.

In the following clip, The Operative reveals what Simon has sacrificed to rescue his sister River.

He confirms what we saw earlier in the recording when Simon rescues River. He also foreshadows things to come in the future, the lengths to which Simon will go to protect her, and as we will see, the things she will do to protect him.

All these things elicit emotional responses in me. I'll admit it: I'm a chick who gets all weepy when she sees brilliant writing in well-crafted movies. I know there are a few guys out there who reach for a tissue in the same situation - when they are watching the movie in a dark theater alone, of course. ;-)

(part 2 in next post)

(you can buy Serenity (Widescreen Edition)