Monday, 20 June 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: Demons and Dragons...

The Exorcist:
It's been 12 years since the BBFC unbanned William Friedkin's landmark film - 1999 was a watershed time in my formative years, when a torrent of previously banned or cut movies were unleashed onto the market uncut (for the most part). For a teenage horror-aficionado-in-progress it was a magical time, and naturally The Exorcist still had a certain cache attached to its name. However, for whatever reason, I never got around to seeing it until just now - although having seen practically every money shot from the flick in numerous documentaries and film-related list shows, I was already decidedly familiar with the film, which unfortunately dampened the effect that the movie no doubt has when seeing it with virgin eyes.

However, I could still appreciate - and imagine - what sort of a shock it must have been to audiences around the world upon its initial release. Indeed, the roller coaster trajectory where moments of quiet contemplation are brutally interrupted by sideswipes of chilling disturbance, still manages to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. It's an intelligent film, with a deliberately gradual pace, and a fascination with the clashing worlds of science, psychology, and religion. From monstrous looking-and-sounding machines of medical science dancing like demons over Regan's possessed form, to haunting call-backs to momentary personal experiences of Father Karras, the film rewards a patient viewer with a creeping sense of unease that builds to a chilling finale. It's just a shame that they don't stick to Mike Oldfield's creepily beautiful "Tubular Bells" throughout the credits (whoever thought it'd be a good idea to ham-fistedly chop-and-change the score after that final haunting image could use a slap).

So after all this time I've finally viewed the film itself, despite already being decidedly familiar with the enchanting sound of Tubular Bells, and the numerous famous moments (referenced in such movies as The 'Burbs), and I'm pleased that - despite that crushing familiarity-by-proxy - that it proved to be a worthwhile, intelligent, and haunting experience.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo:
I've never read Stieg Larrson's best-selling trilogy of books, and I'm unlikely to ever do so, so I'm purely going on the original Swedish film (now remade in English by David Fincher). Long story short (aptly enough), I found it thoroughly involving. For a two-and-a-half-hour long film, it didn't drag once. Every minute felt loaded with information and subtext, and it was all wrapped together in a beautiful-looking package (which is, amazingly, never at-odds with some of the brutally grim content). As a side note I watched it in the English Language Dub ... now, some cinephiles howl with indignation at the very thought of such a thing for numerous reasons, but I'm much more open to the idea if it's done well (and it was done well here). Think about it, countless countries around the world dub practically every piece of English-speaking film and television on a routine basis ... so why is it such an offence to view a quality English dub? It never felt distracting, and the voices felt suited to the physical presence of the actors.

Anyway, moving away from that issue, the tale of a shamed journalist and shadowy computer hacker investigating the case of a missing girl - which leads onto a series of connected murders - is a dark and deeply involving one. I'm looking forward to checking out the two follow-ups, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest ... and come December, I'll be quite intrigued to see if the English language remake will stand confidently on its own two feet (David Fincher is, after all, directing). If you haven't already checked it out - do so sharpish.

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