WHEN: December 21, 2014, 10:19pm. (Week 52, December 21-27.)
WHERE: In the living room of my apartment in Portland, ME.
FORMAT: Blu-ray on a Vizio 47″ LCD HDTV.
COMPANY: Lab Rat Phil Hobby.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Triumphant?
This is it. The very last viewing of the three-year Cinema 52 experiment to test the effects of watching a film 52 weeks in a row. I watched Top Gun, a movie I felt neutrally towards, 52 times in 2012. I watched Back to the Future, my favorite movie, 52 times in 2013. And now I’m about to complete the 52nd time I’ve watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, a movie I hate, in 2014.
Break out the fireworks.
Wow. What a moment. Three years of work, finally completed. So, what sort of major finale have I got planned?
Nothing, really. Honestly, we probably shouldn’t have done the Hate Year third. I’m completely burnt out on Rings. All I wanted to do was say goodbye to the three films that I’ve spent so much time watching and analyzing. So I put on Top Gun. It was alright. Then I put on Back to the Future. I still really liked it. And then I put on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Whatever.
If you’re hoping for some comparative analysis of the three, sorry. I’m done with that. I want to go live my life now.
BUT COME ON:
No, I don’t want to talk about anything. I’m done. See ya.
BUT THEY’RE ALL STRUCTURALLY SIMILAR STORIES:
Yeah, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Anybody can see what these three films have in common. Joseph Campbell, hero’s journey, go Wikipedia it.
A LINK WOULD BE NICE:
STILL, YOUR OPINION WOULD BE EVEN BETTER:
Would it? What do I bring to the table?
EVERYBODY BRINGS SOMETHING TO ART:
Ooh, deep. But sure. I can agree with that.
ALSO, IT’S KIND OF INTERESTING THAT YOU LIKE ONE MORE THAN THE OTHERS:
Well, yeah, but for obvious reasons.
For starters– hey, what the hell? You’re trying to get me to do an actual article.
IT’S BETTER THAN THIS “GRANT MORRISON’S LAST ISSUE OF ANIMAL MAN” THING YOU’RE GOING FOR HERE:
Is that what I’m doing? Shit, I didn’t mean to. I really did want to end with a simple “bye.”
JUST TELL US WHY YOU LIKE BACK TO THE FUTURE SO MUCH:
Okay, but do I have to have pictures?
YOU’RE SO GODDAMN LAZY:
Fine, fine, here comes a real article. With pictures. Set me up with a good heading.
TWEAKING THE HERO’S JOURNEY:
Sure, that works. So, yeah, Gun, Future, and Rings all follow your basic heroic plot. Maverick/Marty/Frodo find themselves in TOPGUN/the 1950s/Middle-earth and have to face the challenges each environment presents. They have the help of their friends and wise old mentors, but this is where the parallels start to fade, and also where Back to the Future sticks out as the most interesting to me.
Study this picture, then we’ll proceed.
In all three movies, somebody close to the protagonist dies. In Top Gun, the best friend (Goose) dies and the wise old mentor (Viper) helps him carry on. In Fellowship, the wise old mentor dies (Gandalf) and the best friend (Sam) helps him carry on. In Back to the Future, the wise old mentor is the best friend (Doc) and Marty has to help himself through it while also, thanks to time travel, becoming mentor to his own father… and also, again thanks to time travel, undoing the death of the wise old friend who is currently alive right now, in the past.
Time travel is so cool, you guys.
I think the main reason I prefer Back to the Future is the way the sci-fi element is used to twist a classic story in new ways, and that’s what I like about most sci-fi; taking something old and making it new. Sci-fi acknowledges the past and looks forward, while fantasy usually just looks back. Top Gun and Rings are about fear of death; Future ups the ante to fear of unbirth.
Also, it’s sort of interesting that the film I prefer has probably the lowest stakes, but also the highest tension for the protagonist. Gun and Rings are about full-scale wars that could lead to the deaths of thousands, while Back to the Future could erase three kids, tops. But that’s why Marty is so interesting to me, because he’s the most screwed. He’s been thrown into a world where literally anything he does could unmake him, and he also doesn’t know how to get back to the future, and also some bully wants to beat the shit out of him and his dad, and also his mom wants to fuck him. Maverick and Frodo have a squadron and a fellowship to help them out; Marty has one (1) possibly brain-damaged scientist friend and astronomical odds. It makes for great comedy and great drama.
Both forms together are known as “coma.”
Anyway, that’s what I jotted down during this viewing, just a little extra insight into why my cinematic tastes fall the way they do.
WAIT, WHAT’S THIS PART LABELED “GAY STUFF”?
Oh, don’t worry about it.
BUT… GAY STUFF! TALK ABOUT THAT!
It’s my last viewing, and I think I wrapped that comparative analysis up pretty nicely.
Okay. Gay stuff. I also noted that all three movies have had major speculation as to whether their core dude-on-dude friendships are, in fact, thinly veiled homosexual relationships. I think Top Gun is the most notorious, with an entire scene in another movie dedicated to explaining how the TOPGUN school actually represents coming out. And Sam and Frodo are very close (sleep-in-each-other’s-laps close in the books), in part thanks to Ian McKellen, as stated on the Fellowship commentary, reminding Elijah and Sean how often Tolkien wrote that their characters held hands. Doc and Marty’s chumminess is also a frequent joke, which is unfortunate since that’s pedophilia.
I don’t know the age of consent in Middle-earth, but two out of three of these seem okay!
On top of those particular relationships, I’ve heard many claims in my cinematic travels that Top Gun and Lord of the Rings are “super gay, bro.” I don’t really know how that’s measured, but I think it has to do with “all those shirtless dudes playing volleyball” and “those Elf guys that look like chicks,” which, yeah, what? There’s probably some male gaze stuff going on here (nobody calls a movie with lots of tits “super lesbian” because of guys assuming movies are just for guys), but I dunno, other than “two characters of the same gender look like they’re in love/open to porking,” how do you graph that? Anyway, I’ve never heard anybody say, “Man, Back to the Future is so gay.” Which is surprising, because half of the comedy in it is a man running away from a woman’s advances.
Wait, but she’s…
Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s his mom, but come on, did Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis find a way to make it okay to laugh at lady sex being forced on a terrified fellow without anyone finding it homophobic? Friggin’ time travel, man, what can’t it do?
OKAY, IT’S PROBABLY TIME TO WIND DOWN NOW:
Yeah. That’s it. No more weekly viewings of the same damn movie. Thanks to all of you for joining me. See you next year for our brand-new weekly experiments. I clearly need more to write about.
ONE THING THAT WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THE MOVIE:
Never watching it again.
Stick this in your fiery chasm.