Themes In Film – Redemption (Cross Talk EP 36)

Redemption is a fairly universal theme in cinema.

It’s something that can motivate anyone no matter what their moral, ethnic, or social standing is. In fact, some of the most beloved characters of all time are ones who follow a path of redemption. You have Darth Vader, Severus Snape, the T-800, Phil Connors (Groundhog Day), Derek (American History X), and Andy Dufresne (The Shawshank Redemption) for starters. Whether the story is one of holding out hope, belief in something greater then ourselves, a desire for change or simply fighting injustice, it’s a great theme that invites us to see the possibility of choices in life.

Now to be clear, the stories we’re talking about in this episode of Cross Talk aren’t exclusively about redemption, even if some of them have an overt story arc featuring the theme. What’s more important to me is to demonstrate how this topic transcends genre, it can be in action movies, dramas, comedies, crime stories, horror and a whole host of other examples. These themes permeate our culture, and I personally think it’s because at any given time we are all holding out for a hero. Redemption teaches us that we are fully capable of becoming our own source of rescue.

Chris and I decided to provide a selection of films to demonstrate this point about the significance of redemption in life. We selected The Green Mile, Unforgiven, Good Will Hunting, In Bruges, Gran Torino, The Hurricane, V for Vendetta, and Les Miserables. All of these films have an element of drama to them, but the stories are wildly different, some being based in fantasy, others based on history, and still others simply fit a time and a place.

Redemption can bring freedom. Freedom from societal oppression, creative limitations, and intolerable views. And sometimes it can absolve past wrongdoings.

I’m really excited to share this one with you because while we are going to go over each of this four examples, Chris has decided to focus his attention on Les Miserables, the 1935 version, and not one of the other twelve film adaptations out there, though I do have some special love for the Liam Neeson vehicle. And then for my pick, I’ll give some insights on why I think the redemption in V for Vendetta comes from Evey, as portrayed by Natalie Portman, and NOT Hugo Weaving’s theatrical V.

And so this is episode thirty six of Cross Talk. Themes of redemption in film.

theories Summarized

That was such a fun topic for us to discuss – I learned something about myself that even I didn’t know, how important a seemingly popcorn flick like V For Vendetta can represent an ideal about culture. And now I need to check out yet another version of Les Miserables, as Chris promises that the 1935 film is the best version out there.

But what are your favourite examples of redemption in the movies? Do you prefer The Shawshank Redemption? What about The Wrestler? Until next time, please like and share the content! And subscribe to the mailing list if you haven’t yet. I’ve got really cool folk country album to share tomorrow from Kacey Musgraves… and I’ll give you your space cowboy!

Tim!

Death Of The Superhero (Alan Moore)

Another month, another post about The Reading List, my ever-faithful and dear readers!

In case you haven’t read that article yet, which is okay, because I’ve only been writing about it once a month, I’ll give you a quick update.

The Reading List

Every month, I turn back to The Reading List for another book to read and another artist for you to consider in your own personal journey. My goal with this project is simple, I am challenging myself to read one book a month from 5 particular groupings. The 5 L’s of Language as I’ve come to call it.

  • LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  • LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  • LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  • LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  • LEET -The Internet

But before I dig into this month’s grouping, I’m going to share with you something of an anecdote.

Alan Moore and The Killing Joke

A few weeks ago, I wrote a film review about a movie which had finally been adapted from a beloved stand-alone graphic novel. A story which has since inspired a generation of artists and furthered an ethos about the importance of Batman as a popular cultural icon. That review was on The Killing Joke, originally created by Alan Moore and Brian Bollard.

You see friends, the movie I reviewed was not endorsed by either party, and is definitely not a faithful adaptation.

The Killing Joke is well known in the comics community and has slowly been incorporated into other Batman media outlets like film and video games. Many critics considerate it to be the best Joker story of all time and one of the key Batman stories to read. I happen to agree with that last statement. And as I also mentioned in that review, Alan Moore has expressed personal regrets about ever having written it.

The logic from Moore being that he wanted to expand upon ideas of what superheroes were and could be, to reinvigorate the industry with silly and fun stories, radical stories, stories that made you consider them and recognize how bizarre comic books truly are. A challenge to the continuity and mythos of superheroes. But after Alan Moore made that story, the industry continued to darken and darken as a consequence, and the industry has never really snapped back since that dramatic shift.

But did you know that The Killing Joke was made in 1988 and is preceded by two other well known stand alone stories that Moore wrote? V For Vendetta also came out in 1988, and the  Watchmen series had previously wrapped up in 1987. Watchmen is in fact the first story to really breakdown the superhero genre in an epic way.

And both of those films enjoyed their own adaptations, also criticized by Moore for stripping the source and energy of the original stories. You see, dear readers, Alan Moore is the type of artist that believes in comic books, but has such a respect for them that he would rather he remove has name from any film adaptations then work with movie studios to produce a variation.

As a consequence of that rationale, rights have been sold for other Alan Moore works – From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Constantine.

This demonstrates rather well the power of his storytelling ability, the success he has had in the comic industry, and also the confidence he has in not compromising his art in order to make money.

Which is why if you haven’t guessed it yet, the grouping of the month is LOVE, because I love Alan Moore’s graphic novels. His spiritual and political views are somewhat different than my own,  him being a ceremonial magician and anarchist, but I think that adds to his value as an artist you should watch, because he brings an incredible dedication to his work and the best way to become a well rounded individual is to remove barriers and ignorance.

I’ll leave you with this quote from The Mindscape of Alan Moore, and let you ponder his frankness.

Yes, there is a conspiracy, indeed there are a great number of conspiracies, all tripping each other up … the main thing that I learned about conspiracy theories is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in the conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy, or the grey aliens, or the twelve-foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control, the truth is far more frightening; no-one is in control, the world is rudderless.

What do you think? Have you read any of his work? Do you think he’s a genius, a lunatic or a bit of both? I have a theory or two on it.

Tim!