Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the dark crystal and possession states

I'll clean this up later, but I wanted to work out the idea -- while The Dark Crystal is a great movie and everybody should watch and enjoy it, one of the problems I had with it as a kid is how unrelatable the characters were, particularly Jen, who was kinda a dufus. There's a line of thought (you can see this particularly in Scott McCloud that there is an empty vessel nature to a protagonist which allows a general audience to feel they *are* that character, a lack of definition which they can engage with in order to feel they are one with the protagonist. I think for some people this is true, but I think for others that lack of detail is frustrating, as the character they connect to is the *creator*; they want to enter into and explore this world more than they want to play this specific role. I suspect a lot of Joseph Campbell-influenced screenwriters are very much in the first camp, and so while they have a wealth of backstory material they prune down the actual film in question to just the moving parts, the skeleton of the story. There's a lot to that, and I'm not knocking it, but I found as a kid (and even more to this day) that what got me was all the details, all these bits and pieces which didn't necessarily move the plot along but simply created this world, so that the movie was more a place I explored than a story I was told. This is key to the way I think of horror movies -- I don't generally care about which characters live or die (though it's a bonus when that does reach me) so much as all the esoteric details surrounding the world. It's a question of which is your cake and which is your frosting, and there's no wrong answer (and plenty of grey area) but it's something I'm thinking about more and more as I watch movies. Which is to say that in my universe, The Dark Crystal would be twice as long, have way more backstory and you might never even *get* to the third Conjunction by the end.

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