Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dracula Untold & Batman vs Superman Dawn Of Justice

"Every bloodline has a beginning." Well, from the trailers, we can tell that this is a movie about "spilling" blood, as much as "drinking" it, which is what vampires are usually associated with (please note the battlefield and him being surrounded by the dead bodies of warriors he has killed by power, strength, not his fangs, which--again--is what is typical of what we know as a culture about vampires). Typically, we think of "bloodline" as being a family and those related by blood as coming from a common ancestor; with Dracula Untold, however, I think this "bloodline" is a bit more literal, as in, a line made of blood (and, again, judging by the poster, quite a lot of blood), i.e., the blood of his enemies that he spills. A great way to interpret films is to think of films which have elements or aspects that make you think of other films you have seen: for example, his cape turning into bats reminds me of the wicked Queen (Charlize Theron) in Snow White and the Huntsman, when she wraps herself up and she turns into a hundred black birds; the Queen was clearly the villain in that film, whereas Dracula is supposedly the hero of this film. There are three aspects of the film 300 that I am thinking of. First, this poster is the opposite of the last shot of King Leonides (Gerard Butler) when he lies dead amidst all the other fallen warriors, having given and taken blood for the preservation of freedom with his army of 300 Spartans. Dracula in this poster, however, is the only one standing, having taken blood from everyone. Secondly, in the trailer below, at 0:11-0:13, we see Dracula (Luke Evans) climbing a tall crag, just as we saw Leonides do in 300 when he went to see the oracle (you know, the creepy deformed guys who took all the pretty girls for themselves in Sparta?). This is interesting though: Leonides didn't take the advice of that oracle (honor the carna, their sacred festival) but Dracula is going to take the advice of this super-creepy nosferatu guy he talks to, and drink his blood. Third, in the poster below, with Dracula standing on top of the rock crag, that is similar to the 300 poster when the Spartans are pushing the Persians over the cliff and they are falling back into the ravine. Why do this? Obviously, the film makers are wanting to link Leonides of 300 to whoever Dracula is supposed to represent, even though Dracula is an anti-hero (villain) and Leonides is a hero, by all accounts. So this reversing of traditional values, but disguising them as traditional, makes you think of what group in America today? 
I have not been sick. Grandma has not been sick (not sicker than usual, anyway) but I have been completely swamped by work and simply have not had sufficient time to get a post done (Guardians Of the Galaxy is nearly complete, but like about a dozen other posts, not quite). So, all is fine, I am just over-worked. There are two things I would like to briefly discuss in this little post: first, the new trailer for Dracula Untold and, secondly, a quote from Michael Caine a reader emailed me regarding Batman and Superman. First, Dracula:
If you will recall, with Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), the narrator begins the story by telling us that we don't know of the real story of what happened (which is exactly the opposite of what the trailers led us to believe the film would be: it's going to be just like the Disney film Sleeping Beauty, except that it wasn't). There is a problem with this. First, it's a fairy tale, so there is no real story: the fairy tale was written to protect society and the future (the children to whom the fairy tale was being related) from the "monsters" (the evil symbolized within the tale) that would bring ruin to individuals and society as a whole, therefore, everyone and the values which hold people together were invested in these tales. So, there is nothing to be re-written, unless you are changing something from the original, which leads us to a second point.
A further problem with "telling us the real story of what happened," as we will probably see in Dracula Untold, is that an individual (in the case of Maleficent, it was the adult Aurora, who we never even saw, we just heard her voice in the background) claims to have this "secret knowledge" which has eluded everyone else for so long, but they themselves posses and have just now decided to reveal. When a film--or any other genre of art--assumes this position of knowing something the audience doesn't know, and employing that knowledge to introduce an entirely new story in opposite of what the audience "knows to be true," that says a lot regarding how the film makers view themselves against the rest of society, i.e., as superior to everyone else. Granted, every work of art seeks to inform the audience of something, but it's pretty ego-maniacal to say, "The entire population who has read this story doesn't know the real story that I have made up in my imagination, but am now going to use to make you feel dumb." This "secret knowledge" is more revealing than the film makers would like to believe. All of us are attracted to something (beauty, money, art, cars, food, etc.), and we will usually use whatever we ourselves value to lure others, i.e., "bait a hook." The film makers, in using "secret knowledge" to bait their hook for audiences reveals what attracts them, namely, knowing something no one else does, even if it's totally absurd and pointless. Does this sound like liberals to you? On an entirely different note, let's compare Dracula's cape with the cape of two other famous heroes (not anti-heroes, like Dracula): Thor and Leonides. In 300, Leonides earned his red cape because he spilled his blood in the Spartan agoge training school, and vowed to spill his blood to defend his home; Thor, likewise, wears a red cape because he knows he must not only spill the blood of Asgard's enemies--if he has to--but his own blood if necessary (we can easily add Superman into this category). The shoulders symbolize the weight we bear, the burdens and the obligations we have: red symbolizes love and blood. At the start, Dracula, like Thor, Leonides and Superman, wears a red cape; after he turns into a vampire, he wears a black cape, which symbolizes death (of his soul, because he embraced darkness instead of salvation and light). The cape turning into bats in the poster above show how death--in the form of the bats, the opposite of doves, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, Salvation and Light--are going out from him because one act of death begets more and more death, just like him. 
Why would anyone change something from the original unless they had something to gain from it? In Snow White and the Huntsman (Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth) and Mirror, Mirror (Julia Roberts) there is, as apparently with Dracula Untold and Maleficent, an expansion of the world of the fairy tale, which is fine (we shall probably see the same in Kenneth Branaugh's upcoming Cinderella); there is, however, a fine and definite line when "expanding" turns into "rewriting" and in both Dracula Untold and Maleficent, the events bear no resemblance to the original (we can say the same of Frozen, which was based on a fairy tale that bears no resemblance to the original tale), the ending, as we saw in Maleficent--and will probably see in Dracula Untold--bears no resemblance to what we commonly understand as the story we are familiar with, and that introduces an entirely new concept in American cinema: Indoctrination.
One of the prime methods of "dumbing" down America and getting people to side with them on issues is to focus on the "emotional" element, rather than the logical and rational element (hence the introduction of Common Core into the education system). What I think we will see is, just like in Frozen which also emphasized the emotional over the rational, is Dracula making decisions based on how he feels, rather than what he thinks (I mean, who would drink anything that creepy guy gave them? No one, no one in their right mind, but liberals would!). Who on earth would do what this guy told them because of where he lives and how he looks AND, if that wasn't enough, after telling you, "Your salvation is in the darkness," (0:30-0:33 int he trailer) which is exactly where liberals go for their salvation (abortion, homosexuality, denying God, socialism, the destruction of the family and the destruction of gender identity, etc.)? "Salvation" is the opposite of "darkness," but only a liberal would embrace sin and think it virtue. On a different note, Dracula has a young son; we know that children symbolize the future, and males symbolize the economy because men are the active principle whereas women are the passive principle, so Dracula protecting his son is like Obama protecting his "future economy" and the investment he has made in socialism and sharia law whereas Dracula's wife would be a symbol of America that he is fighting to keep (if you believe that Obama honestly won the elections). In other words, Obama has to fully become a tyrant and monster in order to keep the "reforms," "hope" and "change" he has forced upon America, because there is an army coming that is going to try and take that away from him. On an important side note, the nosferatu guy in the trailer that Dracula gets his power from is, according to production notes, based on the Roman Emperor Caligula, who was a tyrant, murderer, madman and sadist that brought ruin and famine to Rome. Caligula, who was assassinated in real life, has turned into a vampire--because that's what leaders who do that kind of thing are, blood-suckers--and Caligula offers vampirism to Dracula. Yea, liberals are so smart.
The purpose of art, as we have explored elsewhere, is to critically depict the faults, flaws and hypocrisy of a society, while simultaneously maintaining and upholding the culture's values and truths (please see the quote from poet William Butler Yeats at the top of this blog). This may seem a contradictory mission, but a work of art cannot criticize about how a society treats the poor if, for example, the society it's criticizing doesn't value the poor and humanity to at least some degree (if a culture believes poor people are "trash," for example, it does no good to criticize their treatment of those they consider to be trash because the poor are not valued anyway; consider, for example, the Untouchables in some countries, no matter what they are says and does, attitudes towards them probably won't change).
What is that on Dracula's armor? A dragon. Why is that important? Consider, if you will, all the dragons we have seen as of late: Maleficent, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Hobbit, 47 Ronin, How To Train your Dragon 2 (which had a gay cartoon character in it) and others, and we know that a dragon is a symbol for Satan, because the dragon is a stylized "serpent," like the one in the Garden of Eden, and dragons are unnatural. Dragons are associated with the enemy, with Satan, because it's the enemy who hates humanity and wants humanity destroyed.
As an example in America, the Richard Gere film Arbitrage targeted the rich because of their shallowness, greed and cheating tendencies; even though I believe the film was meant to be a pro-socialist statement by targeting capitalism, if Americans didn't value sincerity, honesty and integrity, there would be no point in making the film for an audience who lacked the necessary "understanding" to identify with the narrative; likewise with Margin Call--which I loved--but really came out at the forefront of the anti-capitalist wave of films, becomes more of a critique of capitalism rather than an anti-capitalism film (which is probably what was intended) because viewers see the bad things happening, but then want to amend their own behavior to not become that, rather than completing overhauling the system, and that's because our values as individuals (most individuals in the country, but not all) accept honesty and integrity, which leads us to asking about Dracula Untold, who is this "monster" that Vlad (Luke Evans) turns into? Let's watch the first few seconds of the first trailer again, and please listen to the words the boy speaks at the very start:
Sometimes, what the world needs, "is a monster." When you think of who the "monsters" of history are, who do you think of? Adolf Hitler? Joseph Stalin? Che Guevara and Fidel Castro? Mao Zedong? Pol Pott? The human beings who have the greatest crimes against humanity attributed to them, and responsible for the greatest body counts are the monsters of socialism who believed they had to kill and destroy vast numbers of human beings in order to change the world for a better, Marxist world, and who would that typify today? Barack Hussein Obama. So, in other words, like Frozen with Elsa's icy power to freeze everything (freeze trade and commerce) and "coming out" with her terrible powers (like Obama and his pen) Dracula Untold appears to be coaxing Obama, "Kill everyone and call yourself a hero for it."
Yea, I think killing 90% of the world's population qualifies as "monstrous" and this is what the bedrock of Agenda 21 is all about: kill off the population, enslave the remaining people, and let the uber-rich and depraved live like kings. I can't think of a more direct Lex Luthor villain than those in real life. 
Here's an important point that we can see between the two trailers: do Americans typically justify "becoming a monster" to protect our families and take down our enemies, which is the basis of the Dracula Untold narrative? No, we don't. As a culture, that's not what we uphold (more on this just below in the discussion on Batman). What about two films released recently, Pacific Rim and Godzilla, who is the King Of the Monsters? As Pacific Rim touted, to fight monsters, we created monster of our own, and when the monsters get loose in Godzilla, Godzilla instinctively shows up and battles them to the death. The "monsters" in both Pacific Rim and Godzilla (Godzilla himself, not the two monsters he fights) are exactly the same "monster" in both films: individualism, capitalism and democracy at their very best, the three weapons Americans rely upon to defeat socialism in all its guises. So, why can't Dracula be one of the "good monsters?" (like Godzilla and Pacific Rim)? Because turning into a villain to achieve an end isn't the American way; we believe that you have to become a better person to achieve a good end, like, as in, Tony Stark. But this leads us to the second point of this post.
Here is an important question: why are there so many comic book films coming out? Because they are making so much money; why are they making so much money? People are going to see them. Are Americans spending money on comic books films because we like comic book characters? No, because we like leaders and real men and the only place to find them nowadays, where there is a will to truth and justice, in in the fantasy pages of comic books. Americans are starved for justice and truth, and that's the last thing any of our "leaders" in Washington are giving us, so we have to go to the movies to get it. Obama playing golf and always denying his responsibility is the exact opposite of the leadership we see from Captain Kirk, Thor, Iron Man, Superman,... even Godzilla (the trouble showed up and Godzilla was there to kill off the dangers, then he went back home, done!). All these comic book heroes, in other words, are a slap in the face to Obama, and America can't get enough of it.
A reader from Canada sent this quote from Michael Caine to me via email:

"About Superman and Batman: the former is how America views itself, the latter, darker character is how the rest of the world views America."
The Dawn of Justice movie will be a clashing, then integrating of the two identities, making it an extremely cathartic film for people.
There will probably be a moment of identity crisis for the male heroes where Wonder Woman will have the most important role of reminding Superman and Batman of the spirit behind America, that formed America.

I have never thought of Superman and Batman in those terms before. Even if Batman is a "darker" hero than Superman, both heroes rise to the occasions in which they find themselves and accept that they must be converted into better people, better heroes, to overcome their enemies, rather than become monsters.
Man Of Steel. Superman is going towards the light, which literally, gives him strength. As his father tells him (Russell Crowe), the closeness to the sun has made him stronger than if he had stayed on their home planet. This is the opposite of what Dracula is doing (and liberals) in running to the darkness for their salvation.
We see this briefly in Man Of Steel when, before he becomes Superman, Clark (Henry Cavill) gets a beer dumped on him at a truck stop, then the guy goes out to see his semi-truck wrapped around a telephone pole; that's not acceptable behavior for Superman, but he recognizes that within himself and disciplines himself to become better; he's not perfect, but he's getting better, and the better he becomes the greater his powers become as well. We can say the same of Batman (and here, we can only discuss the Batman of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale since we know nothing of the drastically revised Batman of Dawn Of Justice due out in 2016). Bruce Wayne didn't kill the man who killed his parents, nor did he permit Cat Woman (Anne Hathaway) to kill anyone in The Dark Knight Rises so there wasn't a "blood line" as we will see with Dracula Untold. Again, Dracula presents a highly dramatized different standard of leadership and morality than what Americans are used to, and even though the film looks to have some great special effects, I can't imagine it doing well.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Again, I apologize for the excessively long delay in-between posts; thank you so much for continuing to check in! This week will still be busy, but I hope to have a bit more time to get things up!