Monday, March 28, 2011

Danny Archer in Blood Diamond

The movie based on real events, "Blood Diamond", pits antagonist Danny Archer against illegal mining operations in Africa that are in search of diamonds. Archer is in search of a huge conflict diamond that will net him a free pass home, therefore he is willing to use any means possible to secure the diamond. As he starts his journey, Danny Archer is a defiant anti-hero as he makes many immoral and unethical decisions that most would never consider. For an occupation, he is a mercenary, a soldier of war that fights for the highest bidder. Their is a flashback to earlier in his life where it shows him fighting with these rebel groups and is forced to shoot innocent women and children. The director placed this scene into the movie to show how events such as these have hardened Danny Archer and de-sensitized him to violence. As the anti-hero, he has done things in his life that he isn't proud of but feels that they were required to get his job done. This is how he rationalizes the choices that he makes, as he has ruined many peoples lives and caused many hardships in order to recieve his payments.

The quest that Danny Archer undergoes is the search for knowledge as he wants to find the exact location of the conflict diamond. Archer then meets Soloman Vandy, a local who has been wrongly put into jail. Danny Archer then tells Vandy that he will get him out of jail if he will get him the diamond. Soloman Vandy agrees and they set out on their quest for Archers treasure. Soloman Vandy could be considered an "Outcast" where society believes that he has done somehting wrong and placed him in a jail. The crime is an imagined one as the rebels are the ones who found Vandy and took him to jail. He is searching for his son who was taken from him when he was sent to jail and placed in camp and this plays a large role in the movie as two plot lines emerge; the search for the conflict diamond and  for Soloman's son.

As the movie progresses and they get closer to finding the diamond, the two begin to bond and share a loyalty for each other. The diamond that the two of them are looking for is also the desired item for the rebel groups and so as the two find the diamond they get into a gunfight with the rebels. They escape but Archer has been shot and is bleeding vehemently from his chest, so he gives Vandy the diamond to run and find his son. This is where we see Archer turn from the defiant anti-hero into a Transcendent hero whose flaws bring about his demise. Archer has lived a life of violence and greed with no care for anyone else but he has shown the change by giving Vandy the diamond to escape without him. In his last dying moments, Danny Archer lies up on a cliff watching a beautiful sunrise, symbolizing how he is finally at peace even though he is in his last moments. This is where the movie ends, leaving the audience to question their own lives and the path that they are currently on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shutter Island

We are first greeted with the sight of the the protagonist, Edward Daniels, hunched over a bathroom sink attempting to fight off sea sickness. The movie is set in the 50's and Daniels, as a U.S Marshall, is sent to an island that contains an institution for the insane to investigate the disappearance of a female patient.  He has his suspicions about the island as he doesn't trust the people overseeing the institution and wants to truly find out how the asylum treats  its patients.  
If we fast forward to the end of the film we find out that Daniels is actually a patient on the island and that he was actually in a role play that was set up by the islands doctors, in an attempt to get him to come back to reality. This is where we see who Edward Daniels truly is, a completely unbalanced hero whom denies that he is actually Andrew Laeddis, an arsonist who was convicted of killing a woman in one of the fires he created. In order to fully understand Andrew Laeddis, a second viewing is required. In his mind he has been set up by the island's institution and that he is an innocent human being who has been wrongly convicted. This is where the viewer sees the sickness that is contained within Andrew's mind. He creates fantasy situations where he can make up a reason for the way things are and then blame it on the directors of the island. He wants to believe that he is a U.S Marshall and so he creates a situation where that is true, and he doesn't see it any other way. 

The journey that Andrew Laeddis undergoes could be considered one of two different ones; either a quest for identity or a quest for knowledge. The way Laeddis sees it he is searching for knowledge about the island's institution and what is really going on the island. In reality, the role play was set up by the islands overseers in attempt to get him to snap out of his dreamworld and back into reality. When Laeddis finds out who he truly is, the audience expects him to be able live in reality now that he has been exposed to the truth. The next day  he is back to his schemes where he pretends that he is an U.S Marshall and he is investigating a crime on the island. As he is taken to become lobotomized after the island's directors feel he has no chance of becoming sane, he utters the question "Is it worse to live as a monster, or die as a good man?" 

This question is a powerful one as every viewer in the theater was left to ponder that as the lights slowly came on and the credits began rolling. Andrew Laeddis chose the second option, as he ended up dying as Edward Daniels, at least in his mind. This question has been asked in various forms from different movies (the Dark Knight for example) and it seems that there is no definitive answer, as people's point of view will always change that answer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Lord of The Rings: Frodo Character Analysis

As one of my favorite movies growing up, I decided to re-watch The Lord Of The Rings series in an attempt to recognize any of the Heroic Archtypes that we have been studying about. After watching all three movies,  it was clear that Frodo, the protaginist, fit the description of the Hero as Scapegoat. Given the task of destroying the ring in the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo had to assume sole responsibility as the carrier of the ring, albeit with aid and protection from the rest of the fellowship along the way. This placed great pressure and stress on Frodo as he was the key cog in the wheel that drove towards the destruction of the ring.  

At the beginning of the journey, the task placed upon Frodo appeared dauntingly impossible due to the barriers that stood in his way, namely how the entire focus of Sauron, the antagonist, was on finding Frodo and taking the ring. Many of the characteristics that Frodo possess's allows him to succed where many others would fail, as he is brave, selfless and unfailingly loyal. Although there are others in the land of middle-earth who hold these attributes, Frodo has a special something about him. That special something is an inner desire for goodness, as well as curiosity, that makes him stay strong even when he is physically and mentally exhausted crawling up Mount Doom. This is why he was entrusted with the burden of destroying the ring, because of his natural defiance and resistance against the evils in his world.

The journey that he underwent was a combination of the fool's errand and the quest to rid the land of danger. As the fellowship held a meeting at Rivendell, a Elven city hidden in the forest, to discuss the journey that they must undertake, there was a feeling of unattainibility to dispatch of the ring. This is where the journey begins as a sort of fool's errand, where only people who have unbreakable courage could attend. As the journey progressed, Frodo began to understand the magnitude of what he was doing and that he must take the task extremely seriously due to its importance. This is where his natural abilities and aptitiude for surviving on very little comes into play and affects the outcome of the LOTR. As one person in the many people who are in the movie, Frodo plays the most substantial role out of anybody.