Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Collection & Collectivization: The Horrors Of Socialism

This film rocks.
I haven't said it in awhile, and now would be a good time for bringing it up because the topic can become a confusing issue. I do my best to draw your attention to recurring symbols, themes and motifs; for example, snow globes are used in both Red Dawn and The House At the End of the Street; does that mean those aren't "original" films? No, when there are recurring ideas in art, they are, literally, recurring ideas, and validates the previous usage (as well as your reading, if you have read the symbol/idea correctly) thereby "building up" the importance of whatever it is the recurring idea wants to communicate; the more film makers and artists are talking about something, and the more of them using the same ideas to communicate it, the more important it is. Originality, then, has nothing to do with recurring themes and symbols, rather, our attention is drawn to that pattern the recurrence establishes and gives us cause to consider what it's saying. (Please, please please remember that what I am going to talk about in this post was also mentioned in last year's Best Picture Winner The Artist when George (Jean Dujardin) yells, "Free Georgia!" from the plane he flies in the beginning, referring to the August Uprising when Russian Georgia revolted against Soviet Socialists trying to collectivize their farms; please see BANG! The Artist & the New Agenda In Film for more).
Of all the possible images in this horror film to use, why use this one, of the mask not going completely around his head? To begin with, the laces are remind me of the the stitch wounds prevalent throughout Silent Hill: Revelation. Like in The Collection, both films correlate that gaping aesthetic with a lack of identity. Showing the back of a masked serial killer might not make much sense but the gaping opening in the center of the poster is exactly where our attention should be for two reasons: first, the film heavily relies upon chaos theory (think of the butterfly effect) and The Collector--for as brilliant as he is--hasn't thought of everything, including  Arkin's and Elena's strength and intelligence in overcoming him. For as tightly as he pulls on the strings of control (like killing everyone at the warehouse rave in the opening sequences; something should have gone wrong there, but it didn't) he can't pull tightly enough to keep it all in, something is going to ooze out no matter how hard he tries, and those "unknown variables" are attributable to chaos theory.
It's not apt to do very well, and that's a shame, because Marcus Dunstan's The Collection offers viewers a grotesque--but accurate--view of  the horrors of socialism. The Collection sounds like an odd title for a horror film, yet it invokes two different concepts simultaneously: the first is the collectivization which took place in the Soviet Union, and the second is the "collection" of historical atrocities committed by socialist governments; so The Collector (the serial killer) with his masked face, symbolizes a socialist take-over. How can we say this for sure? Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), the main character, whose mother died when she was younger, is the only child of a wealthy businessman who was left disabled after a car crash and The Collector holds her hostage,... can you pick out the elements?
The image in this poster presents but one example from a multitude of experiments of a human body re-engineered by The Collector; there is actually a museum he has built of his "displays" for his collection (in addition to a gruesome "art museum" featuring pictures of grossly fat people, symbolizing capitalists who gorge their appetites).  In an isolated context, this could be read as an anti-capitalist piece because of how capitalists claim the economy has to evolve and adapt to new conditions, hence, the disgusting way the two torsos are attached, and all the arms, because employees have to work so hard they have to multi-task and the numerous arms show how disgusting that much hard work is on a person. This is the catch (besides being a lousy reading) the figure on display is an insect made up of various human body parts--the arms being all the legs a bug might have, with a bit of exoskeleton showing, and within the larger context of the film (demonstrated below) we see what a socialist government does to its people: it takes people and turns them into bugs, hence why The Collector is an entomologist: to him, he's not killing people, but creating bugs, and that's how socialist governments justify the atrocities they commit, but The Collection reveals how horrifying that path is.
As a wealthy businessman, Elena's father, Mr. Peters, symbolizes the upper-class (they live in a small castle), so Elena symbolizes the future of the upper-class in America being "held hostage"; and how is holding the upper-class hostage? Socialists. Mr. Peters' injuries can easily be understood as the injuries to the upper-class caused by the economic crash of 2008 (and we see this in The Dark Knight Rises with Bruce Wayne being lame in his leg at the start of the film; the legs symbolize our "standing among peers" or in society, so Wayne's and Mr. Peters' standing has been wounded by the class warfare against the rich and business owners) with the crash being symbolized by the car crash Mr. Peters and Elena are in just after her mother's death. While the death of the mother usually symbolizes the death of the "motherland," (death of the traditional culture or previous government), it can also mean the death of Holy Mother Church, or the loss of faith in religion; in this case, it probably refers to both (more on this below). So how do we establish The Collector as a socialist?
This is all we see of The Collector throughout the film. Sometimes, the most obvious questions are the ones we forget to ask--because they are so obvious--and we miss the foundations of characterizations. Why does The Collector wear a mask? As in our discussion on Savages, when a mask is introduced into art, it's because something is being "unmasked" and the real nature is being revealed wearing a mask) it looks like by The Collector wearing a mask that we are really being shown a being who's real nature is to be masked; so what is that? Communism. Socialism and communism never reveal what they are doing, everything is hidden from the people they are meant to be serving and protecting (the citizens) and we see this in President Obama: while he promised complete transparency at the start of his campaign, he has had no transparency to his administration at all and he spent $4 million dollars sealing all his records.
First, we never see his face. In socialist/communist countries, there are no individuals, every person exists to serve the state and there is no leader of a socialist state, just the state (there are chairmen, like Stalin and Mao, but it's the Party that runs the affairs, as depicted by the pigs in Animal Farm and the villain Big Brother in 1984). Secondly, he's a killer who "knows no boundaries," he kills the old, young, rich, poor, men and women, just as M (Judi Dench) describes the border-less new terror in Skyfall: as an idea, socialism will reach out to all people and not be confined. There are more, compelling reasons in this clip below. Elena and her friend Missy, and Missy's brother Josh have gone to this party after Elena's boyfriend Brian called earlier to cancel on her saying he had to stay at work late:
So much to discuss!
Let's start with the password: "Nevermore."
By knowing what the password is actually a password for, we can deduce what the party is going on inside. "Nevermore" from Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven may seem like a ploy to introduce the macabre into The Collection, yet we've seen Poe in (the book) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and The Raven (John Cusack). Poe's traumatic life of poverty has been fodder for both sides: socialists saying, if the state had funded Poe, he could have produced far more and not suffered so, while capitalists say it's precisely because of his sufferings that he was able to produce such brilliant work and artistic immortality is the workplace benefit of writing (please see The Raven & the Raccoon: Edgar Allan Poe & Karl Marx for more). That debate is one issue. Who else, though, would have cause to say, "Nevermore?"
Elena watching Missy die. Why would Missy die? If the upper-class is under so much attack, shouldn't it be Elena that dies, since its the upper-class the socialists hate so much? How often does President Obama go to the homes of coal miners? When does Obama tour Harlem, or the ghettos of New York? When does he go talk to people in the unemployment office? Never. How often do we see him with people like David Letterman, George Clooney, Beyonce, Jay-z, Oprah Winfrey, Eva Longoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus? Socialists only hate the upper-class that hates them and they hate the poor because the poor have nothing to offer them in their pursuit of power: money, weapons, property, influence, the poor have nothing. We know Missy isn't well off because of the poor condition of her car (my car is in pretty bad shape, too) and that Missy is easily led by her appetites not only because she's making out with a guy she has just met on the dance floor, but because of her dingy white fur coat (fur being a sign for animal appetites and the dingy white signifying that's she's "soiled" or of dirty appetites). So knowing that Missy is "crushed to death," with The Collector standing on top of the cage (from which they can't get out) what does that image invoke to us? The national debt, $16 trillion dollars and counting, crushing the youth and poor. Socialists don't crush the upper-class, because as Margaret Thatcher put it, someone has to pay for socialism, hence Elena escapes and Missy doesn't. There is an awful lot of decapitation going on and that meaning is two-fold: first, that voting Americans are no longer the "heads" of government, that our government is being run without our votes; secondly, that we have "lost our heads" in how we have been acting socially (the sex, drugs and lack of concern over the horrors going on outside of the warehouse party, like in Project X).
"Nevermore will socialism rear its ugly head," or "Nevermore will socialism threaten the world," or "Nevermore will class warfare exist" or "Nevermore will Americans be divided," and that's why--because Elena says "Nevermore,"--Elena, Missy and Josh can enter the party with a psychopath on the loose because nevermore will socialism threaten our security and we have nothing to worry about. So what is the party in the warehouse? The same "party" we saw in Project X: the Democratic "Party."
The Collector looking down on Missy as she dies. The above discussion is only the first reference to Poe, there is another motif invoking Cusack's film The Raven in which Emilie (also the daughter of a rich man) uses a bone from her corset to break through the wood of her coffin, get air and see what is going on around her; likewise, Elena, in The Collection, pokes a hole through a red trunk to breathe and see what is happening then uses her bra to "unlock" the trunk and get escape. Why? Both young women were "taken hostage" at parties, and numerous references in The Raven are made to unladylike women (such as Lady MacBeth) while we see the perverse females dancing at the party in The Collection, suggesting that their difficult circumstances cause Elena and Emilie to reach into their real femininity (their undergarments) to free themselves of the hostage situation to socialism. Because Feminists seek material equality with men, Feminists support socialism, because they abandon being ale to earn equality by themselves (working for it) and instead seek the artificial "leveling" of conditions that a socialist government promises to provide. So instead of raising themselves up to compete fairly with men, Feminists seek to cut men down to their level. Emilie and Elena, however, draw upon their uniquely feminine abilities (symbolized by their feminine "supporting" undergarments, the corset and bra, both have been looked upon as restricting , the bad reputation of corsets and the bra-burning of the hippies) to free themselves and Democrats hate that: they want women completely dependent upon the Party to level the playing field.
We see the same type of "decadent" and wild party going on in Project X as in The Collection and that's because "Hope" and "Change" in the 2008 political campaign was seen as a "New Woodstock." So why does the "party" suddenly end? Brian's unfaithfulness to Elena. When Elena sees Brian cheating on her, she gets upset, punching him so he is "defaced" (his bloody nose) and then she goes off finding the red trunk and setting off the death mechanism. We've seen unfaithfulness as a theme in anti-capitalist films such as The Vow, Arbitrage and The Descendants, and it's meant to convey (in those instances) that the upper-class and Republicans were "cheating" on the middle-class and poor so best to throw out rotten capitalism; in The Collection, it's (rich) Elena who has been cheated on, calling to our minds how much money Lehmann Brothers and Bernie Madoff "cheated" the rich out of too, setting off the 2008 financial crisis (consider Margin Call). It's when Elena "abandons" Brian that we first see The Collector (at 2:57 in the clip above) from his bird's eye view of the party.
Why is this the moment in which he is revealed?
Elena caught in the red trunk, the same one from which she released Arkin. Why does Elena wear the shirt she does? Shoulders symbolize our burdens, what we have to bear in life: our hardships, sorrows, disappointments or personal limitations; that Elena's shoulder is "bare" shows us that she doesn't have anything to "bear," or at least, that is the perception. We know Elena lost her mother at a young age, then immediately her father became disabled (after being absent through most of her childhood); she has a lousy boyfriend and is now being held hostage by a psychopath. As we know, blue symbolizes depression, so the blue spaghetti strap we see exposed tells us, literally, that only "a thread" of her depression is exposed to us, she keeps the rest of it covered up so we don't see. Remember, hair symbolizes our thoughts (or describes what kind of thoughts we have); Elena's super-short haircut could mean that she doesn't have very deep thoughts (she's shallow) but she manages to stay alive throughout the film, mostly by her wits, so instead, we might deduce that Elena doesn't let herself get carried away by thoughts because she's prone to depression, i.e., just as she cuts her hair before it gets too long, so she cuts off her thoughts before she gets tangled in them. Why is this characterization important? For two reasons: because of how we perceive the life of the rich and wealthy and how class-warfare exploits that perception. In this scene, Elena watches The Collector torturing someone and we can say, since Elena symbolizes the upper-class, that it's a kind of re-enactment of the French Revolution and she's next.
(Now, remember, please, this is a work of art which has different rules than life). Elena abandoning Brian reveals The Collector because there is now a rift in the relationship between the rich (Elena) and the working class (earlier Brian called Elena and said he had to "work late"). This means that Elena becomes separated from Missy (the separation between the rich and poor) and that puts her in a position to open the red box (if none of this had happened, Elena would still be with Missy; because of the "booby traps" employed, the film is definitely pro-chaos theory) so what does the "red trunk" symbolize? Let's put it this way, what is it that puts the upper-class in the same position as a thief? Socialism. The socialists always want the poor and middle-class to believe the upper-class have stolen from them, and Arkin is a convicted thief; The Collector takes Elena and imprisons her in the red trunk he had imprisoned Arkin in, allowing the "criminal" to escape and incarcerating the rich just as we saw in The Dark Knight Rises when Bane released all the prisoners and locked up the rich.
The Collector looking at Elena in the trunk through the hole she made (we also saw this image in The Raven with Emilie being looked at by Ivan). Why is this such a great image? It demonstrates power. The large eye can behold Elena, but she cannot behold him because of the mask, what is revealed to him is kept hidden from her, and that introduces knowledge into this power struggle.This shot is the exact opposite--the reversal of the power struggle--with Arkin we will see below with the light bulb. The eyes are the windows of the soul, but with his solid black pupil, it's apparent that the character of The Collector has no soul, a further characterization of a socialist state, which teaches that the only real world is the material world (the tangible world you can touch, not the invisible world of faith and religion). This is an important point because it separates The Collector from two other characters: Elena's father, Mr. Peters, and Lucello.
Lastly, the "rows of metal teeth" coming down to rip the dancers apart on the warehouse floor resemble a combine threshing wheat: we can see "the harvest" in the decadent appetites revealed during the scene (like the two naked women dancing together and touching each other as Elena enters the room where Arkin is trapped within the trunk). Because Brian wasn't satisfied with the girlfriend he all ready had, but greedily took on another girlfriend--and was the first one to see the combine thresher coming down to kill them-- I could go on and on about this (the film is packed full of great detail), but we need to move on.
The point in the story when we see Arkin's tattoos is just as important as the tattoos themselves. Just after this scene pictured above, Arkin found a dumb waiter; trying to find a way out of The Collector's hotel, he gets the door of the dumb waiter open and, at the bottom, sees innumerable severed, bloody human limbs piled up. To avoid being found by Lucello (from whom he is hiding, fearing that he will die if he stays with Lucello's group) Arkin climbs inside the dumb waiter and perches on the ledge; unable to keep himself up, he falls down into the pit and discovers there is gasoline all over the body parts; he climbs out and, once again in the hallway, he removes his long-sleeved shirt to wear his undershirt, then revealing that he has the tattoos (this place in the hotel is also important because, towards the end, Arkin successfully pushes The Collector down the dumb waiter and drops a match on his body covered in gasoline at that point). What is this scene about? First of all, the dumb waiter, because it is used to convey food to the different floors of the hotel, should be seen primarily as a symbol of the appetites. The different floors of the hotel symbolize levels of "higher thoughts" (the upper-floors, the higher you go, the more lofty, idealistic realm of thought you encounter) and the lower-floors being lower-thoughts or the animal passions. Now, we must ask, who in history has had a "craving" (the appetites the dumb waiter symbolizes) for humans to be butchered and burned? The Nazi Socialists and the Soviet Socialists. In the Holocaust of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jews were put to death (and this is probably the direct invocation by the images in The Collection) but 14.5 million were put to death and starved from government-induced famine when Socialists tried to collectivize people in the countryside and make farms state-run in the Soviet Union. TO COLLECT PEOPLE TOGETHER IS ACTUALLY TO TEAR THEM APART, because it is a denial of their free will and their ability to project their own course in life and follow it. This is why the film makers chose to depict a socialist as an entomologist (a person who studies insects) because socialists deny that people have any free will or any individuality, rather, we are like bugs, to be stomped upon and controlled by a greater will than our own (the government; more discussion on this below). Now we can understand why, in the image above, Arkin slips through the wall with all the nails on it: it's like a human-size display board for human to be displayed upon the way a collector will pin his insect collection to a board to display (there is an example of a large beetle collection displayed that way at this link).
What about the hero of the film, Arkin O'Brien?
As you may or may not know, The Collection is the sequel to The Collector of 2009, when Arkin first encountered The Collector. One important detail we know is that Arkin is a twice convicted thief. Why would this be important? This weekend, another important story about a "thief" opens, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is about a thief, the hero, Bilbo Baggins, who is chosen by Gandalf to go on an adventure because Bilbo will make an excellent thief (more on this later). There is a spiritual quality to being a thief, and we can contribute this theory to Arkin with confidence because, on both of his arms, are Christian tattoos, the "mark of Christ" (as apposed to the "mark of the beast). On his left arm, Arkin has a tattoo of the Cross with a banner and Latin inscription; on his right arm, he has a tattoo of Latin inscription with "Virtue" and "Strength" written (among some other Latin words I didn't catch). So what were the two acts of thievery Arkin committed?
This is not a scene from the film, but one of the images of the "masked" Collector which reminds me of both Lizard Man from The Amazing Spider Man and the mask worn by Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) in The Raven at Emily's birthday ball. This is a great shot because, again, the mask actually "reveals" rather than hides.
The first one is, according to The Collection 2009, that Arkin "stole his life back" from the life of crime he had gotten involved in; having set his life on the right course, he then had to fight for it and escaped from The Collector by getting away when the ambulance came to pick him up, the second time Arkin "stole" back his life from certain death at the hands of The Collector; The Collector crashed into the ambulance, however, and kidnapped Arkin at the end of the 2009 version (when he made the marks on his arm so he could find his way back). When Lucello wants Arkin to help him find The Collector, Arkin tells him, "You have to go back to the beginning (and to a point, this means where the ambulance crashed and The Collector kidnapped him) but, more importantly, because Arkin made the "map" directions on his arm (symbolizing strength) it's more of a "timeline": "How did we get here today?" people might ask, and by studying the stops, turns and durations, we can know how we got into the political crisis in which we have found ourselves.
A house symbolizes the soul, because the body houses the soul the way a home houses the body; a hotel, however, like where most of the film takes place, is a temporary home associated with a price, which has two meanings in The Collection. First, the hotel is abandoned: like so many businesses that have gone out of business since 2008, this hotel is like the soul of capitalism: broke, and wherein--because it's broke--the horrors of socialism can hide and do its experiments.
But who does Arkin symbolize?
Obviously, the tattoos on both his arms play a huge role in characterizing him thusly, however, there is an even more impressive scene: Arkin, Elena and Paz (one of Lucello's mercenaries) are trapped in a cage, and about to be blown up; to save them, Arkin has Paz step on his forearm to break it so he can get it through the holes in the cage and unlock them; why am I so impressed with this? Because it's suffering. One of the methods of socialism spreading is to create a fear of suffering in people so they will depend on the government to provide for them and they don't have to worry about ever being out of a job, going hungry or being without their birth control,... because the government is providing it for them. Arkin, however, takes suffering upon himself and lays down his life to help Paz and Elena. Which leads us to what differentiates Mr. Peters, Lucello and Arkin from The Collector.
In this scene, Elena had been taken by The Collector and placed on an operating table; when Arkin and Paz went to save her, a huge cage (the one pictured) dropped down on them all; outside, the police have started arriving so The Collector is going to burn everything down, starting with Elena, Paz and Arkin, so he sits off a fuse on several barrels of gasoline to go off as they desperately try to escape. Since The Collector ends up at the good spot to  dumb waiter shaft, this would be a good spot to finish that discussion. So, the dead limbs symbolize the "human waste" created by the hunger of socialism in realizing their vision of "collecting" people into communes. When Arkin falls into the shaft and becomes covered with gas, he crawls back up (he emerges on a higher plane of thought, he takes off his shirt and we see his tattoos; what does this scene mean? It's possible that we are meant to be thinking of World War II, if dismembered body parts heaped up and about to be burned invokes the Holocaust and concentric camps to you. The United States emerging from WWII (Arkin emerging from the dumb waiter) and having witnessed the atrocities of the socialist state against the Jews fueled us on (the gas he becomes soaked in) to shedding our insensitivity towards socialism (Arkin taking off his shirt, he's revealing himself against the mask The Collector wears to hide himself) and making it part of our Christian duty (Arkin's tattoos revealed) to defend others from what happened. Again, this scene is imperative because it's where The Collector ends up, Arkin pushing him down the dumb waiter and we can see this as justice (not revenge) because socialists deny that "the masses" (like you and me) have any free will or thinking abilities of our own, we are merely a pile of flesh created to serve the interests of the state. Likewise, at the end, when Arkin finds out who The Collector is and goes to his home, The Collector turns on his radio and Arkin turns it to a rock-n-roll station (because rock is the rebel music against communism) and Arkin vows to make The Collector suffer and locks him in the "red trunk" we have seen throughout the film. Again, this is not revenge--because it's in the realm of art--rather, it's justice, because the evil socialism unleashes on the world has to be put back from where it came; because "red" is the International Socialists' chosen color, the red trunk then is putting socialism and all the evil it has done, back where it came from.
When Lucello has a flashback of being on the phone with Mr. Peters, he tells Lucello he has to find and save Elena because "She's all I have," even though Mr. Peters is obviously a very successful business man, he completely puts his daughter ahead of anything else in this world. At one point in the hotel, Lucello's group is attacked by a man who has been forcibly made addicted to drugs and Lucello adamantly defends the man as still being human in spite of what The Collector had reduced him to (and it's important that all the people being held hostage in this scene look and act like zombies). Unlike The Collector, we see Mr. Peters (the upper-class) and Lucello defending humans and humanity which The Collector denies others and himself (by wearing the mask).
Now we can understand what Lucello symbolizes.
Lucello, along with two of his mercenaries; I think this is the scene where a man who has been made addicted to drugs, attacks them like a rabid dog. Seeing syringes--literally--piled up all over the floor, Arkin gets upset but Lucello insists that "He's still human, he's still a human being," in spite of the way The Collector has treated him and driven him "mad." If you will notice, I don't know if you remember or not, but thee are "bug zappers" hanging all over the room (the kind we would have plugged in on the patio during the summer and every time a bug would be drawn tot the light, the zapper would zap it and it would make a particular sound). Why does The Collector have those hanging up? Because, just as the zappers are a trap for bugs, so the hotel is a trap for Lucello, Arkin and the others, so it mirrors the greater events taking place. This is at least the third reference we have seen to associating socialism with drugs: there was The Bourne Legacy, when Aaron Cross' physical condition is kept dependent on the meds the government has been giving him and, in Dredd, there is the drug slo-mo Mama gives to her "residents" to keep them dependent upon her. In The Collection, The Collector keeps his prisoners addicted to drugs so--like the figure of Sloth in Se7en with Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey--they have no will of their own and they are easy for him to control.
Lucello is the right-hand man of Elena's father, Mr. Peters, and he goes to talk Arkin into helping him and his crew save Elena from The Collector. Two scenes, both involving Lucello's hands, reveal the important role Lucello plays: first, Lucello breaks the car window glass of the crashed car when Elena and Peters were coming from Mrs. Peters' funeral, and Mr. Peters was crippled on the ground and couldn't save his daughter (translation: the upper-class, crippled by the "crash" of the economy, could not save their future (Elena)) so Lucell breaks the glass with his hand/elbow and gets Elena out of the burning car. The second scene is when The Collector has "ambushed" the group in his abandoned hotel and puts his dogs on Lucello and the others; The Collector actually uses a nail gun (like in construction) and--without anyone but Lucello realizing what The Collector has done--Lucello's hands have been "nailed" to the floor, causing him not to be able to move. Taken together, these two scenes reveal Lucello's role in the film and culture: the invisible hand of capitalism.
Lucello holding onto Eleana, Arkin on the far right.
In capitalist theory, the movement of the markets, the mysterious knowledge of what is going to be the "next big thing," and how the markets are balanced and correct themselves--without government intervention and meddling--is attributed to, what Adam Smith called, the "Invisible Hand" of control. The invisible hand more importantly, is the way capitalistic self-interest actually benefits society and we see that in The Collection. Mr. Peters wanting Elena back seems to be purely motivated by love for his own daughter, however, stopping The Collector is of benefit to the entire community because of the murder rampage he is on and chaos he brings. Likewise, we can see that greater analysis of "self-interest" socialists hate so much when Arkin and Lucello debate over Lucello letting Arkin use his gun to get them all saved (for example, it would have been easier for Arkin to tell Lucello, "Hey, shoot that guy in the leg and his friend will bring cops and an ambulance" but no, that's not how the film makers wanted the scene to run) so, in this scene, (besides other issues) we also have an unfolding of what "genuine self-interest" in capitalism is all about and how it saves us all.
"I didn't make the connection, and neither will you!" right before a body bomb (surgically implanted within him by The Collector) explodes. Unless the extended hand of this man is an invitation to do exactly what we have been doing throughout this post, there aren't any other "connections" (the symbolic connections with what is going on in society) to make in the film. Where else have we seen body bombs recently? The Hurt Locker, and Heath Ledger's The Dark Knight and another Jeremy Renner film forthcoming Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.
Okay, last point.
When Arkin stumbles into a room with a flickering light bulb (it's included in the trailer above), the light symbolizes an idea, the "light going off" in Arkin's head, because when he sees the framed picture of the beetle he also sees The Collector, he sees beyond the mask and the essence of what The Collector is; that's why,  even though The Collector is so close to Arkin (sneaking up behind him), The Collector can't catch him because knowledge of The Collector's real identity breaks the strength of The Collector and The Collector's hold on Arkin: knowing who and what The Collector is, Arkin knows how to defeat him.
Remember the picture above of The Collector's eye looking at Elena? This is the reversal of that image because Arkin looking at the image of the framed beetle is Arkin "reflecting" and seeing how The Collector is reflected by his actions and what it is he does with the people he tortures and mutilates.
The Collection is extremely well-conceived.
Because it has such a high-body count and so much blood, it's not a film everyone will want to watch, but I assure you, I have only started to scratch the surface of this film's political message (I will probably leave some additional comments below, so check to see). It hasn't grossed well at the box office, so if you are interested in seeing it, check your theater listings because it's not playing very long. There are so many things in the film I am skipping, I hope you will have fun plugging in your own interpretations and meanings!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner