Friday, February 20, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Originally, David Croenberg was set to direct the remake of the TV series, and Tom Cruise was set to star opposite Armie Hammer; after Cruise dropped out to focus on a little film called Mission Impossible 5 (for which a trailer should be coming out any week now) Croenberg followed; the film languished, sitting on a shelf, and then something magical happened: Guy Ritchie picked it up in between filming Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie has given the same attention to the brief few minutes we see in this trailer as to his other films, so it's worth our time to focus in on some of these juicy details:
Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) in the backseat of the car is important for two reasons, the second reasons we will discuss later. First, however, he is interpreting the situation--the situation being whether or not there is an assassin after them--much the same way Sherlock Holmes interprets a crime scene; this is in the film because we, too, are being asked to interpret what we see. Using his foot, he rolls down the window: translation: he consciously decides (his feet symbolize his will) that he is not going to reflect (the window) on who it is he is about to kill because the girl driving is more important than the driver of the car. Solo fires two gun shots from the back seat (again, that's important, we'll discuss it below) and, at 0:34, you see the two bullet holes where Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) would have been. The first bullet hole is Kuryakin's cheek--as in "turn the other cheek," which he is not likely to do--and the other is the ear, as in, "turn a deaf ear," which he is not likely to do either (Solo, in aiming for the cheek and ear, is telling the mysterious follower not to retaliate at him for trying to shoo him away, and forget anything he has heard about the case).
Yellow is an interesting color: it symbolizes kings--because yellow is the color of gold, and only kings can afford gold/gold is the only present worthy to give kings, or yellow symbolizes a coward, as in, a king is supposed to be king by virtue of his bravery on and off the battlefield, but running from or cheating in battle is unfit behavior for a king. The tagline, "A higher class of hero," suggests that Ritchie consciously invests the film with class conflict--isn't that what we are seeing the most of in America today?--but while both men carry guns, both guns have silencers on them, suggesting the film's message will also have a "silencer" on it, and both men look to their left, as in, The Left, because that is where the threat comes from.
At 0:39, the two cars making the turn in unison foreshadows what we see with Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) "wrestling" Kuryakin to the ground later in the trailer; both her first name "Gaby" and last name "Teller" suggests she has a exceedingly difficult time keeping information confident ("to gab" means to talk alot, and "Teller" is either a person who works at a bank--a "bank teller," for example--or it can be deconstructed as a "person who tells," a teller of tales). Gaby leading Kuryakin to get his car stuck in the narrow stairway probably foreshadows that she will do that to him on another level as well. At 1:06 and following, when Kuryakin tells Solo what he knows about Solo, we are seeing an homage to the 1977 James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me with Sir Roger Moore. Please note, Kuryakin says that Solo is "The CIA's most effective agent," not "the best," because in socialist countries--and Kuryakin is from Soviet Russia in the film--there is no "best," everyone is equal, even if they aren't. At 1:16, we see Solo call Kuryakin "their best," but we also see something else: his hair.
We have no idea at what point in the film this is taking place, however, I have a feeling the green you see behind them is the real point of the scene; why? Green either symbolizes that something is rotten (like the green mold growing on food in your fridge) or hope, like the cliche "new life" during spring when the world turns green after the long winter. The "hope" is going to be that these two can work together and save the world, and that is what is most important. 
I know it's probably a small detail, but things like this separate mere film makers from the artists. As we know, hair symbolizes "the thoughts," and we have regularly seen Solo wearing his hair like Superman, the Man of Steel. Cavill naturally has a lighter, browner hair shade, and it tends to be quite curly, so the black, slicked-back look was a conscious decision that was made. At 1:16, when Solo is telling Kuryakin what he knows about him, we see a few hairs hanging down: this could have two interpretations. First, the hairs cover the forehead, which can also be implemented as a symbol of thought: to cover the symbol of thought with another symbol of thought suggests that Solo is deciding that he is not going to tell Kuryakin everything that he knows/share all the information with him. A second interpretation, and one not mutually exclusive to the first, is the idea that Solo thinks working with the Soviets is crazy. The slicked-back hair demonstrates a very disciplined mind, but hairs that have become loose, like Solo's, suggests he isn't keeping his thoughts under control.
This scene might not actually be in the film, but what is important is the green door/wall on Cavill's left; it's the same green we see in the image above and, I have an idea, we will be seeing it elsewhere (Gaby wears a green and white dress at 1:20, she's also barefoot). 
At 1:38, the woman wearing black and white asks Solo, "How did you get the invitation to my party?" and Solo replies, "I stole it." What does this suggest? Bilbo Baggins, the thief who stole the Arkenstone from the dragon Smaug. We will need to watch for references such as these in the film. Next, at 1:40, we see Solo's hair appear to be coming loose again as he talks to this woman; why? Please note her eye make-up: the dark lines on her eye creases make it look like she has two sets of eyebrows (Gaby wears white sunglasses that are double-rimmed, suggesting she "sees" more than she lets on, and this woman Solo talks to in this scene echoes that). The woman in black and white is also a hint taller than Solo, which is highly unusual: men, especially the hero, is usually taller than the women (this will be something to keep an eye on and how she plays into the plot). Please note about her costume that her collar has gemstones--obviously fake, but big and gaudy--and those "gems" suggest, as well as her huge earrings, suggests money and luxury is what drives her.
We have all ready discussed the costumes and body language of the characters at this link here. I would like to point out, however, the white, double-rimmed glasses Gaby is wearing, and how they echo the eye make-up of the woman in the trailer.
Solo grabbing the red cloth from the table MIGHT indicate that he has figured out the woman's appetites (red is the color of appetites: either we hunger for love, and that which will benefit us in life, or we hunger for revenge/wrath and that which will destroy us in life). It's likely that this gesture, too, metaphorically foreshadows what Solo will do at some point in the movie. These observations are validated at 1:44 when Solo punches the man in the throat without even looking at him: the throat, again, symbolizes what leads us in life, like a leash/collar, so punching the man there suggests Solo is familiar with the concept. At 2:21, we see the other important reason for Solo using his foot to roll down the car window at the start of the trailer: "Do these belong to you or me?" Solo asks, holding up a pair of women's shoes. Solo is asking, because feet symbolize the will, "Did this situation happen because you willed it, or because I willed it?"
I can hardly wait!
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