Monday, May 08, 2006

Spending some time outdoors

Yesterday I took about a two-hour walk through the woods at a forest preserve near my house. It was a beautiful day with perfect temperatures and gorgeous blue skies. I had been feeling the need to get out of the house and be outdoors, and my walk in the woods was just what I needed. I took my digital camera along with me and took a bunch of pictures. These are some of my favorites.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Silent Hill : The Triumph of Evil

I went to see the movie Silent Hill last Friday. Big mistake. I confess I have had a thing for certain scary movies, but after this one I've decided to avoid them indefinitely, possibly forever. What attracted me to the movie in the first place was the mystery of it all and the creepy creatures that were shown in the previews. I'm a sucker for a good scary monster; I think it's roughly the same principle that attracts me to dinosaurs, lizards, creepy insects, and the like. I thought that what I would get was a story of a woman facing down legions of evil creatures to rescue her daughter from the forces of darkness. What I got instead was a sickening, satanic revenge fantasy, interspersed by some scenes of horrible and disturbing violence.

The film follows the by now redundant and cliched Hollywood practice of displaying religious believers as fundamentalist fanatics who run around pointing the finger at other people and engaging in acts of inhumane and horrible violence, all the while quoting scripture and blindly assured of their own self-righteousness. The caricature is so gross that at one point I was reminded of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the towns-people are accusing an obviously innocent woman of being a witch. The difference being that in the Python movie it is clearly meant to be a silly and humorous caricature, while this movie actually presents it's religious villains with a straight face. It's like Richard Dawkin's worst nightmare come to life.

What is it with Hollywood's never-ending need to present conservative religious people in the sickest possible light? One can only hope that the caricature is so extreme that most people see it for the sick joke it really is. Unfortunately, in a world where more and more people are almost completely illiterate in serious religious matters, I fear that films like this only serve to further poison people's minds and add to a general aura of confusion and ignorance.

The thing that really bugged me about the film though, aside from its grotesque violence, was the way in which it offered absolutely no sense of redemption for any of it's characters, but instead offered what I can only call the triumph of evil. At the end of the film, the religious fanatics who have tortured, burned and disfigured an innocent young girl are finally given their come-up-ance when the girl, possessed by a demon, is able to wreak her violent revenge upon them all by tearing them to pieces with barbed wire.

This unfortunately reflects a way of thinking that has become all too commonplace in our contemporary culture. This is the belief that those who are the victims of injustice are somehow justified in becoming victimizers themselves in order to get back at those who first victimized them. It is a view in which mercy, grace, and forgiveness are allowed no place whatsoever, and in which victims of injustice are encouraged to see themselves as somehow excused from the tenets of ordinary morality. One example of this is the extreme litigiousness of our culture in which we now feel justified in suing people in order to "make them pay" for any wrong against us, whether accidental or intentional.

Silent Hill takes this even further by suggesting that somehow the evil done to this young girl not only justifies unmitigated hatred and a grotesque and violent revenge, but also that this is accomplished by means of demon possession, basically making Satan into the agent of "justice." This goes beyond even the grotesque caricature of religious fundamentalism and completely inverts the very nature of good and evil. Here, pure evil becomes the dispenser of "justice," though we are given no reason why Satan or the demon possessing this girl should really care about helping to procure justice. In fact, I left the theatre feeling like the young girl was simply victimized twice, first by the religious fanatics, and once again by the demon, who simply used her to accomplish it's own purposes of destroying life and wreaking havoc. One certainly doesn't get the impression that now there will be peace for the girl. Quite the contrary, I left with the feeling that evil had triumphed all the way around.

I usually wouldn't bother to write a review of something I didn't much like, as I prefer to spend my time talking about things I enjoy. Sometimes though, something comes along that's so bad you feel you have to say something about it if just to warn people of how bad it is. That's how strongly I loathe this film. To me, it is truly horrible and represents nothing so much as a victory for evil. My advice is to avoid it at all costs.