Thursday, July 8, 2010

Perverting the Landscape in The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" is a powerful film, though not an easy one to watch. I have not read the novel it is based on, so have no comparison in that regard. The focus for me was the revulsion I felt at seeing the murderer stalking and trapping children. I don't  think the film went over the line in its depictions - it simply worked, because dread and disgust are the only emotions we should feel when we understand a grown man is trying to trap a fourteen year old girl.

What truly pushed it over the edge for me was the killer's perversion of the landscape and nature to assist him in his evil deeds. He digs a pit in a field that becomes a trap, and later weaves branches in an attempt to create another trap. The resonance of using the natural world for unnatural deeds really twisted me inside as I watched. As well, he lurks in cornfields and behind trees, as if he was part of the natural world, using it as his shield.

It perverts the landscape because there is nothing natural about him. Pure evil. I don't often have problems watching films, but this man, made me nauseous. When juxtaposed with the other characters, it was easy to remain nauseous.

In the end, the natural world makes sure it does not allow the killer to use it for cover. Though a random accident, I felt it was a just end.

I understood this film to get some poor reviews, but I'm not sure why. The acting - Saorise Ronan and Stanley Tucci - but also the rest of the cast, including Mark Wahlberg, a favorite of mine - was excellent, and the film was suspenseful. The revulsion I felt was necessary to the situation. Perhaps Ronan's "heaven" was controversial, or seemed strange, but it worked for me because her character deserved at least that much wonder and satisfaction.

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