Fables are meaningless if emotions don’t resonate

Sarai 2022-04-19 09:01:53

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos' new film "The Killing of the Sacred Deer" received applause and boos from the media after its premiere at Cannes. . I think for all the viewers who are familiar with Lanthimos, we never expect the setting of his film's story itself to "make sense", on the contrary, we want to see how Lanthimos makes an otherwise ridiculous setting. He justified himself with a tongue-in-cheek tongue, and found some mockery and irony of the real society from it. But "Death of the Sacred Deer" seems to have become a mockery due to the mistakes of its play itself - the extreme lack of emotion in the film is like the indifferent and numb real society that Lanthimos is most happy to satirize.

The story of "Death of the Sacred Deer" was born out of the battle of Troy in ancient Greek mythology. Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek coalition, killed the sacred deer of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Artemis was furious and ordered Agamemnon to kill his beloved daughter Iphigenia. , as a sacrifice to the gods. Agamemnon hesitated, but eventually Iphigenia decided to be sacrificed voluntarily.

In The Death of the Sacred Deer, Lanthimos places this ancient Greek myth in the context of a middle-class modern society. Cardiologist Steven (Steven) drinks alcohol which leads to a failed heart surgery. After the operation, he became friends with the deceased's son, Martin, and they met regularly in secret, giving money, gifts, and meals together, and Stephen treated him like an illegitimate child. However, this did not make Stephen get Martin's forgiveness, and Martin suddenly insisted that Stephen pay for his sins by killing his children or his wife. Under Martin's control, Stephen's son and daughter gradually became seriously ill, so how will this originally peaceful family of four escape the inevitable death?

Lanthimos' films have always been known for their imaginative stories, and he and his longtime collaborator Efthymis Filippou are adept at reinventing behavior by reshaping behavior in a relatively closed micro-society. Guidelines to map the real world. Lanthimos' last work, "The Lobster," premiered at Cannes two years ago and was nominated for the Cannes Jury Prize and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The most amazing thing about his play is the emotion of the characters. , the balance between logic and the imagination of the script itself. Although the absurd world with complicated rules in "The Lobster" has a self-contained code of conduct, because of its complete logic and clear motives for the characters' behavior, the audience can quickly integrate emotionally.

Although the script of "The Death of the Sacred Deer" was still jointly completed by Lanthimos and Ferry, it has to be said that it was a mistake caused by the two of them together, and even the premise of the whole story-Martin asked Stephen to kill a child Or wives—but lacking legitimate motives. After Stephen's two children were bedridden with lower limbs, Martin and his wife's reaction was even more surprising: various scans and examinations showed that the children were in good health, and the cause was still unknown, while the husband and wife seemed to be very Just accepted this fact. Immediately afterwards, Martin took the initiative to confess that he caused the serious illness of the two children. Even though the details were still unknown, this explanation was quickly recognized. "Bob is going to die!" Sister Sophie seemed to have directly determined the outcome of death. The most inconsistent point of the film's plot is that on the one hand, the couple accepts the paralysis of their children and does not make the best efforts to restore them in the treatment and interaction with Martin, and on the other hand, the decision to kill the son or daughter is another. seems so difficult. In addition, the core transformation of sister Sophie from begging her boyfriend Martin for mercy, escaping, and taking the initiative to ask to be killed was unexpectedly completed in just a few minutes, and the emotional core behind the transformation was completely empty.

Lanthimos showed a strong control of the set and color in the previous works "Dogtooth" and "Lobster", and "Death of the Sacred Deer" is still the same - built out of glass, pure white and medical instruments The spotless hospital reminds people that this is the only remaining science and rationality in the surreal world; at the same time, the long-range lens fully explores the relationship and potential between characters and space. However, the story is already rooted in an absurd setting that is completely detached from reality. In addition, it is difficult to justify the logic. The plot of "The Death of the Sacred Deer" lacks the motivation to move forward, even if Lanthimos has made great efforts in audiovisual language. , as a viewer, it is still difficult to experience the substitution of emotions. For example, although the soundtrack composed of a large number of extremely dissonant intervals achieves a "scaring" effect, it is not so much that the soundtrack enhances the plot, but rather the weak plot is pulled hard by the soundtrack. When filming dialogues, Lanthimos used a lot of elevation lenses, and often even zoomed in on the characters from a large perspective, trying to provide a perspective between alienation and snooping to observe the distorted and tense relationships between the characters. However, if the character image itself is empty, no matter how exciting the audio-visual language is, it is only superficial, especially when Lanthimos' personal style is too absurd and exaggerated, the characters in the film are more for the service of style, and Not the story itself. At this time, recalling the beating heart exposed to the air during the operation at the beginning of the film, it is more like Lanthimos squeezing himself while imitating himself, pushing the language of strong personal style to the limit until the image itself loses its meaning.

I want to express a kind of horror, a kind of indifference, tell a kind of revenge, a kind of redemption, and then face a middle-class crisis and fear, break free from an inevitable bloody ending - from reality to surreal, from action Metaphysically, Lanthimos wants to express too much, but ignores the essence of narrative.

Text | Xu Jiahan


at Festival de Cannes

First published on the official account DeepFocus (id: deep_focus)

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Extended Reading

The Killing of a Sacred Deer quotes

  • Martin: My mom's attracted to you. She's got a great body.

  • Steven Murphy: [about Martin] He's got issues. Serious psychological issues.

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