Friday, June 12, 2015

TRAILER: The Man From UNCLE #2

Elizabeth Debecki (The Great Gatsby) portrays Victoria Vinciguerra in the film, the wife of a billionaire. What does her name mean? "To conquer in war," or "to be victorious in war," because she is going to wage war on humanity. Director Guy Ritchie conveys the depths of this villain to us through the colors of her outfits: black and white. Normally, someone with less attention to details might decipher that as meaning, "She sees everything in terms of 'black and white,' there are no 'gray' areas with her," and that might be possible, however, I think Ritchie is giving us something far more sinister to contemplate. The majority of the outfits we have seen her wear in the two trailers have been black and white, and mirroring each other in opposition (like the outfit above). First of all, when she will stray from this color combination, it will be significant, and meant to communicate deeper meanings about her character and what she is going through. Secondly, the longer she wears these black-and-white outfits, the longer she is unable to undergo conversion, repentance, change. A great example of this is Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds with Tippi Hedren: she wears the exact same outfit nearly the entire film, except for the final scene, after she has finally achieved the state of conversion (The Man From UNCLE takes place in 1963, the same year The Birds was released, and is also the year the very first James Bond film, Dr. No, was released). So, what does it mean? "Black," as we know, always symbolizes death, but there is good death and there is bad death. The "good death" is being dead to the world, not being led astray from one's path, especially a spiritual path, by becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, or drowning one's self in work, etc.; this is "good death" because it allows a person to fulfill their capacity for virtue and hence, their destiny, because they have not become distracted in life. "Bad death" is when a person has become enslaved to worldly pursuits, ambitions and pleasures (sex, drugs, alcohol, money, etc.). This is a "bad death" because the person is living for this world, the material world (and if Victoria's character is a socialist, then that makes perfect sense, because socialists only believe in the material world, not the spiritual world) rather than coming to understand their uniqueness as an individual (which, in turn, causes them not to understand the individuality of anyone else, or the singularity of the person, so they are ultimately divorced from all of humanity because they failed to embrace their own humanity). This "bad death" is what forms part of Victoria's character, and we can count on seeing these traits in her throughout the film. What about "white?" The good symbol of white is that of faith, purity/innocence, and that the person's soul and inner-most being is alive (or is at least coming to be alive) in these qualities and virtues so they can understand themselves and thus, all of humanity; on the other hand, the bad symbol for white is when the person is dead in their soul because there is no faith, purity or innocence left in them at all, they become, as it were, a corpse, because a corpse turns white when it's dead. Just one of these symbols--black or white--would be sufficient to describe Victoria's character, however, Ritchie--who also wrote the script--wants us to be thinking of both these descriptions of evil because she will embody both of them.
The second trailer for The Man From UNCLE has been released, and it's every bit as good as the first one, if not better! This trailer focuses a bit more on Illya Kuryakin's character (Armie Hammer) and we have also been given some more details of the plot. Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) is the daughter of a German scientist who has disappeared and Gaby is working as an auto mechanic in Berlin when Solo (Henry Cavill) goes to extract her so she can help the CIA find her father. Why is this detail important? We've seen this in another Cavill movie, Man Of Steel, when Clark Kent's (Cavill) earthly father, played by Kevin Costner, wants him to become a farmer rather than find a way to use his powers for good and peace; put another way, in socialism, you don't do what you are good at (in spite of what blind followers think) you do what the state tells you needs to be done, and that's what you do. If Gaby is the daughter of a nuclear scientist, we can bet she's probably highly intelligent herself, but working as a auto mechanic because, if allowed to develop her intellect, she would revolt against the government and escape, (trust me, being an auto mechanic is great, I would love to marry one myself, but she's probably meant for something else in life) so she's not living up to her potential in Berlin.
In this opening, as Solo speaks and thinks upon the situation, he's wearing an apron. Why? an apron is traditionally a woman's article of clothing, and Solo may, in fact, be actually cooking something as he speaks, but it probably also serves as a notice to viewers that, in his mind, Solo is also "cooking something up" or putting ingredients together, such as, how did Kuryakin know I would be there going after Gaby? We know that Solo is "an effective agent" and he knows how the game is played, so it appears to Solo that someone has cheated, and alerts the viewer to that possibility as well. As mentioned, the film takes place in 1963, which was the year Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five were discovered as Soviet spies; this leads us to Hugh Grant's character. 
I'm rather concerned about that little symbol above the "6" on the left side of the image,... I won't say anything about it now, but let's both keep it in our minds that it is there. Now, part of the film is this race that takes place; why? You might remember a film with Chris Hemsworth called Rush which may or may not be part of the commentary that The Man From UNCLE offers viewers. Scenes like car races are expensive and dangerous--especially when the cars are all original antiques, as is the case with this scene (people weren't even allowed to touch the cars they were so expensive)--so with the rather small budget of the film, just $75 million, this scene was a big investment and there is going to be a reason for it. 
"Waverly" (Grant) isn't a good name for a character because the name insinuates the character "wavers" in their loyalty or intentions. Add to this shaky character foundation the dark sunglasses we see him wearing in the trailer (as in the image just above) and how sunglasses tend to "block" the eyes as the window of the soul (that is, they either symbolize that the character has no soul, or that the character is attempting to hide a part of themselves they don't want hidden). To be fair, we also see Gaby wearing sunglasses, and Solo himself (but these scenes might actually build up this interpretation regarding Waverly, depending on how the film goes). There is one last point to be made,...
Jared Harris plays Saunders, one of the chiefs of the CIA who works with Solo. Since numerous names have double meanings, it might be appropriate for Saunders' name to also have a double meaning, and so it sounds like the word "sonder," that might be it, especially given the battle of ideologies in the film, and how an individual is going to be treated. This could be a huge, blind leap for this character, but let's at least keep it in mind. 
When Solo describes what happened with the extraction of Gaby, Solo uses the word "It" to describe Kuryakin and says, "It was barely human," and "It" ripped the back off of his car. The same "dehumanizing" tendencies we are bound to see in Victoria, we see in Solo, so this is going to be at least one point upon which Solo himself will have to face conversion. Does he? Well, at 1:27, we see Solo about to be electrocuted in the head; with what? A leather strap. Why? Leather is animal skin, so it symbolizes our "animal appetites" or passions; since it has been wrapped around his head, it suggests that the socialists are acting out one of their beliefs: that people don't have beliefs or higher causes, they are animals that respond only to animal appetites (sex, food, drugs, alcohol, money, shelter, etc.) and they are trying to use--what they believe to be--Solo's appetites against him, but by this point in the film, he has freed himself or them and that's why the torture device isn't working. To be perfectly honest with you, this is the summer movie I am most looking forward to, with Spectre in November, and Star Wars in December, there are still some great movies ahead!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner