Southland Tales (2006)
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of the information in this FAQ can be attributed to three main sources:
The three graphic novels that serve as a precursor to Southland Tales. These are (Book 1) Two Roads Diverge, (Book 2) Fingerprints and (Book 3) The Mechanicals. They are available together in the one graphic novel as Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga. All three graphic novels were written by Richard Kelly, with artwork by Brett Weldele. The purpose of these novels is to explain much of the back-story and set the viewer up for parts IV, V and VI in the movie itself.
An article titled Everything you were afraid to ask about “Southland Tales”. This article is viewable at Salon.com here and is intended to give to viewer a better perception of the movie itself and answer questions not cleared up in the movie.
An interview with Richard Kelly from the February issue of the film magazine Empire. In this article, Kelly is interviewed about some of the less straightforward aspects of Southland Tales. Many of his answers are contained in this FAQ.
Richard Kelly envisioned the story as being told across multiple formats. The first three chapters of the story are told in a graphic novel called Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga, which among other things explains Roland Traveler's back story, Boxer's journey from the desert back to Los Angeles, and the true origin of Krysta and Boxer's screenplay.
The term fluid karma is used to refer to two things in the movie. First, it refers to an "organic compound" that the Treer company discovered while drilling off the coast of Israel, which exists under the Earth's mantle, and circles the world like a "serpent." Second, fluid karma is the name used by Treer for the "hydroelectric energy field" produced by the their Utopia tidal generators. As the movie explains, the compound is being used by the Baron to power his energy plants, hence the energy field produced is named after it.
The compound also works as a drug, which comes in several forms with different effects, as mentioned by Pilot Abilene: "Green, you dream. Blue, in an hour you feel new, and you can forget about Mellow yellow or Agent Orange, 'cause hey, I'm giving you blood red." The movie and prequel saga focus a lot on the "blood red" version of the drug which gives the person using the drug ability to see, or "bleed", into the past, and with repeated use, the future. Fluid karma also makes telepathy possible between those that are using it. As the movie suggests, the Baron conducted secret experiments, headed by Simon Theory, with soldiers in Iraq. The project was named "Serpentine Dream Theory.," which aimed to use the telepathic effect of the drug as an advantage for the soldiers on the battlefield.
Two of the solders that participated in the experiment were Roland Taverner and Pilot Abilene. Before being drafted, Pilot Abilene was also a movie star. He played a character named "Donnie" in a movie with Boxer Santaros. Shortly after they received their first injection of fluid karma, however, Taverner and Abilene were sent on a mission to Fallujah, and Taverner accidentally injured Abilene with a grenade—disfiguring him. That's why Taverner always feels so guilty.
The Baron used the drug to keep everyone under control and on a leash but did not realise that each person under the influence of Fluid Karma can communicate with one another. (This explains the final scene where "Ronald" tells Roland he forgives him—he is actually Pilot Abilene talking, explaining that he forgives him for what happened in Fallujah.)
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire film magazine, The idea of wireless electricity and tides being a source of energy, and there being a potentially world-altering energy source under the ocean, is based on real scientific theory. Many people think wireless electricity is the thing that could rescue us from our dilemma as we reach the end of the petroleum era. Tide power, and the wireless transmission of electricity, are scientific realities. There is no real-life equivalent to the movie's "organic compound" which grants people telepathy etc. etc., although it bears a resemblence to Eastern religious concepts such as Qi and Ki.
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, They're representations of every major religion on Earth. If you read the graphic novel, you'll find the legend which is spoken by Bai Ling's character Serpentine. She says "The religion that is the winner of the contest will bleed..."
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, Whenever Boxer becomes scared or agitated or paranoid, as a defence mechanism, Jericho Kane, the character he is playing (in the film "The Power" he is making), takes over. It's a schizophrenic break. It's a sign that he is at the edge of uncertainty as to who he is.
Revelation 22:5: "It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign forever and ever...." No one really knows (except Richard Kelly, of course) but the glow could be to establish a connection between the two Taverners, that they are two identical souls walking on the same plane. It's also symbolism for the above quote: almost a foreboding for the ending of the film where Roland turns out to be the Messiah. Or, maybe it's just an hallucination from Fluid Karma that only the two of them can see (since Martin doesn't actually notice the light from his hands in the Hummer).
Three days before the movie starts, Krysta Now was vacationing on a houseboat on Lake Mead with Ronald Taverner, Tab Taverner (Ronald's father) and Fortunio Balducci. After losing a game of cards, Fortunio needed to make his way back into California, and Krysta offered to set him up with a visa. On his way to meet Krysta, Fortunio discovered Boxer Santaros in the desert, stricken with amnesia. When Boxer and Fortunio met up with Krysta, she recognized Boxer and managed to convince him that she was an actress researching a role in his new movie, "The Power." Also, they had sex. Then, after several detours, Krysta and Boxer made their way to Los Angeles, where Boxer went on a nighttime stroll on the beach, injected himself with fluid karma and passed out. That's why he wakes up on the beach at the start of the movie.
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, He's the snake-oil salesman who shows up in Santa Monica with the elixir of God. He has the solution to the energy crisis and becomes the most powerful man on earth. And, of course, gets corrupted and goes mad.
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, Thumbprint identification is becoming much more prominent. Ultimately, we may have to vote with our thumbs at some point. The idea with the severed thumbs is that the Neo-Marxists have figured out a way to create a free-floating voter.
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, He is the doomsday prophet, the witness of everything. He's the best friend of Seann William Scott's character (Roland Taverner), so he's witness to the resurrection. His musical dream sequence, which is actually a drug-induced telepathic thing, is the emotional center of the whole piece, since he was accidentally disfigured by his friend.
Richard Kelly stated in his interview with Empire, If Roland Taverner pulls the trigger and kills himself, the ice-cream truck will fall and the gateway it opens will close, and it's that gateway that may be humankind's salvation, so suicide represents surrendering to defeat. And "pimp?" Pimp is American slang for badass. A cool guy. So it's trying to say that our veterans are the biggest badasses that we have.
Those who use Fluid Karma are "Chemical Bleeders" (e.g. Roland, Ronald, Pilot, etc.) but those who do not but still feel the effects of Fluid Karma are known as "Natural Bleeders" (e.g. the Indian chief Boxer encounters in the graphic novels). Chemical Bleeders can see back in time while Natural Bleeders can see back and forward in time. With many repeated usage, Chemical Bleeders can sometimes see both ways (ahead and back in time). Treer knew of these effects and decided to use it to their advantage in the war. This is where "Operation Dream Theory" came into play. Several soldiers were selected (Pilot, Roland, Rick [from the graphic novels]) as test subjects and were injected with Fluid Karma before going out into battle. They can use their telepathy as an advantage this way.
Operation Dream Theory was an experiment created by Treer. The Treer generators were slowing the rotation of Earth by .0000006 mile per hour (.9 inch per day, or 2.3 centimeters per day), per day, which caused strange effects around the world. One of these was a rift created in the fourth dimension—the fourth dimension being time itself—at Lake Meade, which was discovered when an airplane flew through it and had all its passengers left with amnesia (bar one—Krysta Now, who gained psychic abilities from it). Once it was discovered, they sent monkeys through it, which failed (Boxer claims that only a human soul could survive the trip). After much trial and error with monkeys, Baron decided to send Boxer through it—chosen because of his political ties and his celebrity persona. When Boxer (and Roland) traveled through the rift, it created duplicate versions of both—one set of duplicates traveled 69 minutes back in time, while the "originals" stayed in their original time. There are now two versions of each co-existing in the same universe...two Boxer Santaros and two Roland Taverners. Boxer's original self was incinerated in a car bomb triggered by Serpentine, while the duplicate Boxer is still roaming. The two Rolands found each other in the end, but the movie ends before we can see what actually happens to them.
Yes, there is a soundtrack available to buy, from Amazon.com or any other retailer that specializes in music. The soundtrack does not feature all the music from the film, probably due to rights/royalties issues. However, there was a promotional soundtrack that was given to members of the press when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. This soundtrack has 41 tracks, 9 of which are sound bytes taken from the film. It features 3 tracks by Moby that have not been released commercially: "Water Pistol", "It Looks Down" and "Ceanograph".
Southland Tales OST Tracklist
1. "Wave of Mutilation [UK Surf Version]" by Pixies
2. "Oh My Angel" by Bertha Tillman
3. "Howl [Extended Version]" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4. "Look Back In" by Moby
5. "Me & Bobby McGee" by Waylon Jennings
6. "Chord Sounds" by Moby
7. "Lucky Me" by Roger Webb
8. "3 Steps" by Moby
9. "Broken Hearted Savior" by Big Head Todd & The Monsters
10. "Teen Horniness is Not a Crime" by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Abbey McBride, ClarKent
11. "Tiny Elephants" by Moby
12. "Forget Myself" by Elbow
13. "The Star Spangled Banner" by Rebekah del Rio & The Section Quartet
14. "Three Days [Live Version]" by Jane's Addiction
15. "Memory Gospel" by Moby
Songs Not Featured in on the soundtrack
From the album Hotel by Moby (2-CD Deluxe Edition):
• "Snowball (played in opening sequence before opening title)
• "Blue Paper" (played when Dion and Dream are having discussion about bowel movements, also in trailer)
• "Overland" (heard before and after Pilot's dream sequence)
• "Hotel Intro" (featured in Cannes cut, not in theatrical cut)
• "Live Forever" (featured in Cannes cut, not in theatrical cut)
Other songs not featured:
• Water Pistol" by Moby
• "If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)" by Louis Armstrong
• "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers
• "Planet Telex (Live in San Francisco)" by Radiohead
• Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, op. 125, Second Movement "Molto Vivace", by Ludwig van Beethoven
• "Tender" by Blur
• "It Looks Down" by Moby
• "Ceanograph" by Moby (featured in Cannes cut, not in theatrical cut)
• "The Real Thing" by The Shakers
• "Blackout" by Muse
It is a mechanical ball (built by Treer) which acts as remote antennas for the wireless electricity energy fields powered by Fluid Karma. There are hundreds of these mechanical balls buried everywhere in the Southland.
Much of Pilot Abilene's voiceover consists of direct quotations from the Book of Revelation. The other main reference points are T.S. Eliot's "Hollow Man" ("This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but with a whimper") and Robert Frost's "The Two Roads" ("Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-/ I took the one less traveled by"). The first time Fortunio appears in the film, he quotes Karl Marx ("Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval"), and several characters quote the song "Three Days" by Jane's Addiction ("We saw the shadows of the morning light/ The shadows of the evening sun/ Until the shadows and the light were one"). The film also evokes Kurt Vonnegut's sci-fi absurdism, Philip K. Dick's philosophical approach to time travel, and Thomas Pynchon's sprawling narratives.
The film that is most obviously referenced is "Kiss Me Deadly," a 1955 film noir about a private detective who uncovers a plot to detonate a nuclear device. The movie plays in the background in several scenes, and in the "Prequel Saga," Krysta tells Boxer it is his favorite movie. As in "Southland Tales," a character in "Kiss Me Deadly" picks up a stranger in the desert, and one of the main characters in the film is named after a poet. The name of Dr. Severin Exx is a reference to the name of an evil doctor in the movie "Kiss Me Deadly," and Boxer Santaros' convertible is the same car driven by Ralph Meeker in the 1955 film. "Southland Tales" also borrows from "Repo Man," which ends with a flying car (and which also referenced "Kiss Me Deadly"). Singer Rebekah Del Rio, who (as herself) performs the "Star Spangled Banner" onboard the mega-zeppelin, is also featured in David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive." Jericho Cane is the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in "End of Days." Also, a very subtle reference took place when Bart Bookman (Jon Lovitz) had just killed Dream and Dion: he said "Flow my tears...". This is a reference to a Philip K. Dick book called Flow My Tears the Policeman Said. The novel has obvious links in its plot with Southland Tales, and the story's main character is named Jason Taverner.
Revelation 6:8: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death..."
Revelation 11: Two witnesses appear in Jerusalem to speak out against the sins of mankind. They are eventually killed by those who are tormented by their prophecies.
Revelation 22:5: "It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign forever and ever..."
Revelation 12 and 13: A pregnant woman, a dragon and two beasts; They are the puppets of the Anti-Christ
Revelation 22:12: "Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves"
Revelation 21?: "And God wiped the tears from his eyes, so the new Messiah could see out to the New Jerusalem."
Boxer Santaros: Protector of the Messiah/False Prophet
Roland Taverner: Messiah ( forgives sins)—"I forgive you."
Martin Kefauver: He is the angel of death that rides on the horse ...(the ice cream truck) The Grey Horseman. The truck is his horse and the rocket launcher his sword.
Dream and Dion: Murdered and the two people to witness this are Boxer and Roland. They are the two witnesses.
Krysta Now: The word of God or the Apostle John. Reading the graphic novels shows that she had the revelation of the screenplay, which happened (more or less) as she said it would, much as the book of revelation was occurring (more or less) as John had proposed it. She may also be representative of the Whore of Babylon (ancient Babylon situated in what is now Iraq) and her energy drink the "Cup of Abominations".
Madeline Frost Santaros: Pregnant woman from Revelation 12 and 13 (Puppet of the Anti-Christ)
Bobby Frost and Vaughn Smallhouse: Beasts from Revelation 12 and 13 (Puppet of the Anti-Christ)
Baron Von Westphalen: The Anti-Christ
Serpentine: Dragon from Revelation 12 and 13 (Puppet of the Anti-Christ)
Pilot Abeline: The White Horseman, with his rifle post being his horse and his rifle his bow. Shown with white shirt flecked with blood as Revelation describes the white horseman as wearing "A white robe flecked with blood."
It is a proposition on the ballot to restict US-IDent's powers. If Proposition 69 passes, US-IDent will essentially be shut down or have its powers severely restricted.
Moments before the whole Fallujah incident, when Pilot and Roland were roping down their helicopter, Pilot is nervous so Roland gives him his iPod to listen to. The song he listens to is "All These Things I've Done" by The Killers, while he was listening to the song, the "friendly fire" incident occurs.
Several days before the movie starts, on the same houseboat on Lake Mead, Tab Taverner, Ronald/Roland's father, told Ronald—who has amnesia—that he must kidnap his brother in order to protect him. Roland, a Hermosa Beach police officer, became involved in a "deep conspiracy" and he would be in grave danger if anyone found out that he was alive. Presumably, Tab was afraid that the Baron's people would find out that Roland had survived the trip through the time rift. Tab wanted Ronald to help the Neo-Marxists destroy US-IDent, so he entrusted Roland and Ronald to Zora Carmichaels, who then drove them to Venice Beach.
The Treer company is a German defense contractor that employs Dr. Inga Von Westphalen, a zeppelin designer and the Baron's mother. In the "Southland Tales" universe, when war broke out following the nuclear attacks in Texas, Treer was contracted to build several mega-zeppelins to ferry troops and equipment across the world. Kelly has said that this idea was inspired by a real U.S. Army project. In the universe of the film, Dr. Inga Von Westphalen is also the granddaughter of Jenny Von Westphalen, Karl Marx's wife. The name Treer is a reference to Trier, Marx's birthplace. All of these references to Marxism aren't entirely unconnected to the film's biblical references. The Book of Revelation and Marxism have been connected by academics—both advocate the overthrow of tyranny. In fact, Marx was indirectly influenced by the Book of Revelation in his writing. If you replace the Antichrist with the bourgeoisie, and the kingdom of God with a communist utopia, you've got the same basic narrative.
After Roland Taverner came back from Iraq, he got a job as a police officer in Hermosa Beach, thanks to his father. For reasons that never become entirely clear, he was hired by the Baron to kidnap Boxer Santaros from a charity scavenger hunt and drive him to Lake Mead. When Boxer and Taverner went through the space-time rift, they traveled 69 minutes back in time—creating duplicate versions of themselves. But once they went through the rift, the car's self-destruct mechanism was activated, killing the copy of Boxer that did not travel back in time.
According to The Prequel Saga, "The Power" was written entirely by Krysta Now, who is apparently psychic. She became psychic when a plane she was on—United 23—flew through the rift in space-time above Lake Mead. As Treer employees were interviewing the plane's passengers, they noticed that she was the only passenger who didn't suffer from amnesia and that she could see into the future. They decided to take advantage of her powers. Dr. Severin Exx read Krysta the Book of Revelation while she was under hypnosis. He then asked her to forecast the last three days on Earth, and she made her prediction in the form of a screenplay: "The Power." Most of the screenplay is included in The Prequel Saga.
"The Power" is a pretty hilarious piece of work. It has a similar plot to Southland Tales, but with different characters and more gratuitous product placement. Its story overlaps with the movie, so it explains some of the back story. It tells the story of Jericho Cane, a renegade Los Angeles police officer (and Boxer Santaros doppelgänger), who teams up with Dr. Muriel Fox, a psychic stripper (and Krysta Now doppelgänger), to protect a baby named Caleb. The reasons for this are never really explained, but Caleb is the child of Tawna and Rick McBride, a couple in Palmdale, Calif. Caleb does not produce bowel movements, but when he farts, the Earth shakes. Muriel and Jericho take the child after its parents are killed, and, under Muriel's guidance, drive to a farmhouse, where they are met by Serpentine, the Baron's mistress. Serpentine explains that the world is coming to an end; the rotation of the Earth is slowing at a rate of .000000006 mile per hour every day. The baby, she explains, is the Messiah, and Jericho is his guardian. As part of his job, Jericho must tattoo a symbol from every world religion onto his body and, when the Messiah reaches maturity, the "winning" religion's symbol will bleed snake blood. The screenplay ends at a McDonald's restaurant, when Caleb starts belching noxious gas and launching fireballs. The restaurant starts floating into space. Cane loses consciousness. The world ends.
Not really, but it explains why the tattoo of Jesus on the back of Boxer's neck starts bleeding at the end of the film. This means that Christianity has won the "contest" for Earth and is the one true faith.
He had fulfilled his purpose on the earth and as witness to the coming of the next age, saw his body as an empty shell and gave it away.
Fortunio found Boxer lying on a road in Nevada, so he saved him and both of them try and figure out a way to get across the Nevada border back into California. Before Fortunio encountered Boxer, he was introduced to Krysta, who promised him that she would get him an "interstate travel visa" to get him back into California. When Fortunio and Boxer arrive at the rendezvous point, this is where the two are introduced to one another
The film was originally meant to be released in the autumn of 2006 but was pushed back a year to a limited release in the winter of 2007. Due to the poor reception they received at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and still without a distributor, Richard Kelly went back and re-edited the film, trimming out 20-25 minutes worth of footage and adding approximately a hundred or so extra visual effects shots.
No one really knows, it's never implied in the film who was behind it-Richard Kelly did mention he was given an article called "American Hiroshima" which revolved this plan of Al-Qaeda's to buy nuclear weapons off Russian mobsters and smuggle them into Texas over the Mexican border and detonate them in mid-sized cities. So if that's anything to go by, it may have been Al-Qaeda.
Their role is explained a lot better in the graphic novels: they are the heads of the Neo-Marxists and are also street poets who have released several albums.
Richard Kelly has stated that "Kiss Me Deadly" is a huge influence on Southland Tales and that Boxer Santaros was modeled off that film's main character, Mike Hammer. In the graphic novels, Krysta says it's Boxer's favourite film.
It means "let them hate, so long as they fear", Caligula's favorite saying, attributed originally to Lucius Accius, Roman tragic poet (170 BC).
We're not entirely sure. But if Southland Tales follows the same logic as Donnie Darko, as laid out in that film's DVD extras, when the fourth dimension is corrupted, it causes the creation of two parallel universes: the Tangent Universe and the Primary Universe. The Tangent Universe is an alternate reality to our own. You could argue that all of Southland Tales occurs in the Tangent Universe—hence the film's alternate history of the past three years, and its weird mishmash of pop culture. In Donnie Darko, the world ends when the Tangent Universe collapses, which may also be what happens at the end of Southland Tales. Why that happens when the Taverners touch, only Richard Kelly knows. One theory is that duplicate souls from alternate timelines are not meant to exist together in a single timeline. When they join hands, a bond is formed and the rule of singular existence is completely broken. Two souls join into one, the forth dimension collapses. The current world ends, the joined souls become the new messiah, a new world begins. Taken as a purely Christian parable, then this is the book of Revelations and God ending the world and humanity in it's present form. Roland and Ronald are the Messiah and in the end they find each other and save humanity through the power of forgiveness. The other characters have all played their part and are redeemed in the end to enjoy eternal life. Jericho Crane is a "John the Baptist" style prophet, Krysta is the "Whore of Babylon" (and her energy drink the "Cup of Abominations"), the Baron is the "Antichrist" etc
Most of the footage was a subplot between Kevin Smith's and Janeane Garofalo's characters (Simon Theory and General Teena MacArthur) where they discussed Operation Serpentine Dream Theory. They also added in a newly animated opening prologue called the Doomsday Scenario Interface. Back when the film was released in Cannes, three scenes were released on YouTube (which have long since been rendered unavailable): Boxer and Krysta talking with Roland about their film, Fortunio watching Krysta's show "Now", and Krysta's meeting with Cyndi Pinziki. If these scenes are anything to go by, very minuscule moments in them that were cut can be noticed and they are now more compact and give the bare essentials in the theatrical cut. One moment, for example, is during Cyndi's meeting where she asks Krysta how much of her own money is she putting into her career makeover. Krysta says she's putting it all in, Cyndi asks why she would do something that stupid, and that's what causes her to tell Cyndi she's sleeping with "a large and powerful man."
No. This assertion seems to be based upon a flawed understanding of the the particular Law. There already exist generators powered by rivers or by wind, which clearly do not contravene physical law. The Second Law of Thermodynamics refers to a closed system, wherein entropy will accumulate and efficiency will diminish until the system stops. The generators depicted in the film, and similar real-life power sources, are not closed systems but open ones. A closed system that defies the Law would be along the lines of, for example, an electric car which completely recharges itself via the process of driving it around, requiring no external power once it's been turned on. This would be a perpetual motion machine, and could not work. A tide-powered generator, however, relies on an external source of power, the tides, and would not fall under that definition.
No. However, there are several in the graphic novel "The Prequel Saga."
The name does not refer to anything other than the anagram and the late U.S. Senator. The anagram of his name, FREAK MAN VIRTUE is most important, foreshadowing the ultimate destiny of Martin in the film.
Other than a name made up by Richard Kelly, an interpretation can be that the words "fortune" (fortunate) and "bald" can be taken from the name, and used to describe the character.
It is implied that they are either divorced or brother and sister.
The idea of not having a bowel movement really doesn't seem to have anything to do with being the messiah; it's more of a sign of human evolution led by the new messiah. Messiah = high spirituality. A conversation between Zora and Ronald in "Fingerprints" (Book 2 of the graphic novels) sheds some light on this: ZORA: "You know there's this theory... that humans will evolve to a state of existence where bowel movements are no longer necessary."
RONALD: "Sounds neat. How would that work?"
ZORA: "A modified organic diet and transcendental meditation. Your body would learn to how to absorb all nutrients into the body, making defecation unnecessary.
RONALD: "Hmmm. Somehow I doubt that will ever happen. Defecation is a part of life. It stinks... and we have to accept it."
ZORA: "I disagree. I think defecation is the result of an inferior food supply and spiritual weakness."
RONALD: "Its a physiological requirement of the body. Spirituality has nothing to do with it."
ZORA: "You just wait and see."
In the 1980s British TV comedy 'Allo 'Allo!, the right-hand man of Herr Flick of the Gestapo is called "von Smallhausen", so maybe that's where Kelly drew his inspiration from.
Fred Zinnemann, the well-known movie director of the 1950s and 60s, maybe?