Evil in Film: To What End?

In a time of dismay and dread, is it admirable for filmmakers to depict pure evil? … I believe art can certainly be nihilistic and express hopelessness; … I believe evil can win in fiction, as it often does in real life. But I prefer that the artist express an attitude toward that evil. It is not enough to record it; what do you think and feel about it? Your attitude is as detached as your hero’s. … While it is true, as you argue, that evil cannot be ignored or sanitized, it can certainly be exploited… You begin the film with one of those sanctimonious messages depicting the movie as a “warning” that will educate its viewers and possibly save their lives. But what are they to learn? That evil people will torture and murder them if they take any chances, go to parties, or walk in the woods? We can’t live our lives in hiding. Your real purpose … was not to educate, but to create a scandal that would draw an audience. There’s always money to be made by going further and being more shocking. Sometimes there is also art to be found in that direction, but not this time. That’s because your film creates a closed system in which any alternative outcome is excluded; it is like a movie of a man falling to his death, which can have no developments except that he continues to fall, and no ending except that he dies. Pre-destination may be useful in theology, but as a narrative strategy, it is self-defeating.

via rogerebert.com






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