Archive

Archive for the ‘Film Discussions’ Category

Film Discussion: Fallen

 

fallen

The nature of evil is not always what it seems to be–

 

Fallen is a supernatural murder/mystery film about a serial-killing, game-playing demon that targets a police detective. The film was released January 16, 1998.

 

Plot Synopsis

Homicide detective John Hobbes has finally brought to justice the notorious serial killer Edgar Reese. Hobbes witnesses Reese’s execution and believes he has closed the books on the murder cases.

Soon after, the detective and his partner, Jonesy, begin their investigation into a string of copycat killings that appear to be modeled after the Reese killings. Through a series of hints left to him by Reese and found at the sites of the copycat killings, Hobbes tracks down a mysterious woman named Gretta Milano.

Years prior to the Reese killings, Gretta’s father, who was also a homicide detective, supposedly killed himself after accusations of murder began to pile up against him. Gretta refuses to answer anymore questions and warns Hobbes about investigating any deeper into Reese or her father’s past.

Edgar Reese possessed by Azazel

“Time is on my side.” The demon has been alive for thousands of years, possessing many and bringing chaos to the world.

Not heeding her warnings, Hobbes discovers the location of Gretta’s family lake house and makes the journey to further his investigation. Hidden in the basement of the cabin, written on the wall and painted over, Hobbes discovers a name: AZAZEL.

Hobbes returns to Gretta and presses her for information. She reveals that Azazel is the name of a demon: a fallen angel that is formless and forced to inhabit the bodies of the living like a parasite. Hobbes realizes that Edgar Reese was not himself when he committed the murders, but was possessed by the demon.

Hobbes further learns that while extremely powerful, the life and power of the demon are based on rules and thus limited. Azazel, when leaving a human host or forcibly departed from a host via death, has only a certain amount of distance that can be travelled, or “breath” before he expires and dies.

how do you engage in combat with a demon?

Hobbes feels his back against the wall and the demon breathing down his neck. How do you fight an enemy that can be anybody?

Learning that Hobbes is inquiring into his nature, Azazel confronts Hobbes at his police precinct and warns him to “fear my wrath.”Azazel then begins a campaign against Hobbes, possessing an innocent school teacher. Via the teacher, Azazel assaults and forces Hobbes to kill the man in self defence. An investigation into the incident is opened against the detective and while active, the demon inhabits other ‘witnesses’ and gives false testimony against Hobbes. Hobbes is gradually framed for the killing.

To further provoke the detective, the demon attacks his brother and nephew, eventually claiming the life of Hobbes’ brother and simultaneously framing Hobbes for the death of his brother.

Feeling the walls close in, Hobbes gives his nephew to Gretta with instructions to hide and never reveal to anyone where they might go. Meanwhile Hobbes devises a plan to combat the demon and heads back out to Gretta’s lake house.

Drawing the demon out, Hobbes kills the investigators sent to arrest him, including his partner, Jonesy. While Jonesy dies, inhabited by Azazel, Hobbes smokes cigarettes that are laced with the same fast-acting poison that the demon utilized in so many of his murders. Hobbes dies, and with no remaining hosts, it seems that Azazel will finally face defeat and death.

the demon is outwitted, but not beaten

Outwitted, but not defeated. While dying of cigarette-related issues, Denzel struggles to find his car keys. We all know what that’s like.

In the final moments of the film it is revealed that there is a cat living under the cabin that Azazel possesses. Avoiding a close brush with death and ultimately emerging victorious, the demon walks off into the night.

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions

  • If we were to consider the phenomena of demonic possession as legitimate, how will we reinterpret historical and religious documents and accounts? How will the modern day phenomena of possession be reinterpreted?
  • Why does the demon target detective Hobbes? What is the goal of the demon?
  • When the demon begins to attack Hobbes, what are its tactics? What other entities in our world emulate these same tactics?
  • Given the trouble and risk detective Hobbes has to endure to simply ascertain the name of the demon–Azazel–what does this suggest about the power inherent in a name? How does this same implication of power apply to the nature of secret societies, intelligence communities, information networks, etc.?
  • What is the relationship between demons and games?

    azazel: the name of the demon

    The name of the demon–and through it, the means to fight the demon.

  • Hobbes is a police detective who witnesses events on a regular basis that make it “difficult to believe in God.” Yet, it is a force of great evil that he is confronted with; an evil that reshapes his view and interpretation of the workings of the universe. When does the hard world of physical realtiy slide into the bitter battle of spirituality? What are the boundaries of empiricism when it comes to describing the nature of the universe?
  • What does this narrative suggest about the power the nature of knowledge and secrets, the concept that “more is hidden than is seen?” Why is some knowledge kept secret?
  • How does the nature of Azazel, and demons in general, tie into the concept of higher dimensions as posed by Rob Bryanton? What other social narratives can we attribute or correlate with the nature of demons?
  • Is Azazel a “reptillian?”

 

Film Discussion: Jurassic Park

 

jurassic park

Where cutting edge bioengineering meets cheesy consumer advertising.

 

Jurassic Park is a science fiction film directed by Steven Speilberg that grapples with the ramifications of genetic engineering and cloning. The film was released on June 11, 1993, and is based on the 1990 novel by Michael Crichton.

 

Plot Synopsis

John Hammond is the founder of his own bioengineering company, InGen, the wellspring for the technology to reclaim dinosaur DNA and clone the animals. On a remote island, Isla Nublar, this same umbrella company has created Jurassic Park, a themepark to showcase the refined cloning technology. Unfortunately for Hammond and his investors,  a park worker is killed by a velociraptor. Subsequently, the investors and a legal team demand an investigation and analysis of the long-term stability and viability of the park.

To help defend his position, Hammond recruits the paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, and paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler. The investors meanwhile field the lawyer Donald Gennaro and mathematician and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm. Malcolm asserts that the controls put in place by the park cannot contain the dinosaurs or their ability to breed in the long-term. Finally, the team is joined by Hammond’s own grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy.

Cloning monster death lizards is fun!

The team begins their tour of the park, but nothing goes as planned. Dinosaurs do not make appearances for the tourists, a tricerotops is found ill, and a tropical hurricane begins to descend on the island. The tour is cut short.

Night falls and the storm develops. Meanwhile, the park’s computer programmer Dennis Nedry has defected and, having been bribed by a rival corporation, is planning on shutting down the park, stealing dinosaur embryos and espcaping the island via ship.

The park is shut down and Nedry manages to steal the embryos, hijack a vehicle and delve into the jungle. However, Nedry becomes lost–he wrecks his vehicle and is killed by a dilophosaurus.

As the park powers down, the tour is stranded in their vehicles and is attacked by a Tyranosaurus Rex. Gennaro is killed and the group is divided with Dr. Grant and the children being forced to trek across the park by foot. As they explore the park, Grant uncover’s evidence that the dinosaurs are breeding despite the park’s population control efforts. The remaining survirors opt to reboot the park’s computer and power system in a last-ditch effort to restore order. Muldoon is killed by velociraptors buying time for Sattler to escape.

After power is restored, velociraptors assault the bunkers and force the survivors to flee. En route to the helicopter pad, the survivors meet up with Grant’s party and they depart the island.

In the final scenes, Grant informs Hammond that he will not be endorsing Jurassic Park.

 

Discussion Questions

  • Ultimately, the experiment of Jurassic Park is brought down by corporate espionage. How does this series of events correspond to Ian Malcom’s theory of chaos?

    jurassic park film discussion

    “I thought corporations where too big to fail?”

  • John Hammond is portrayed as a kindly old investor; the benevolent grandfather of Jurassic Park. Yet, when we consider what methods must have been required to create such a park–to harness and manufacture the science, the errors encountered and overcome, the manner in which Hammond conducts business, the types of people involved, and even the types of creatures he chooses to breed–how else can we interpret the figure of John Hammond?
  • The world of Jurassic Park exists during a time when genetic experimentation is highly illegal around the globe, cloning is considered taboo by mainstream science and the philisophical implications of both practices are dubious at best. Yet, despite these obstacles, the science was mastered and presented to the public in the form of an amusement park. What does scenario say about the nature of the corporate world and the mentality of science? How does this fictional scenario apply to the real world?