"Thou shalt not kill" - a shorter, slightly less graphic version of 'A Short Film About Killing', but the plot is essentially the same: murder followed by execution, two killings, one ...
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"Thou shalt not kill" - a shorter, slightly less graphic version of 'A Short Film About Killing', but the plot is essentially the same: murder followed by execution, two killings, one illegal, one legal, both hideous.Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
so what is it that the Natural has to offer us anyway?
'Identity . . . . I am part of my surroundings and I became separate from them and it's being able to make those differentiations clearly that lets us have an identity and what's inside our identity is everything that's ever happened to us' (Ntozake Shange qtd in "Fires in the Mirror").
Pieces like Decalogue V used to intimidate me. I felt that if I accepted them, than I would be compromising something. What I thought before really isn't worth getting into. I understand what Naturalism is trying to say. I experienced a tangible katharsis, and one that fell into existence piecemeal, and one that's still alive, that I still have to reckon with. It's still working inside me.
The film wasn't sympathetic, per se. It doesn't need to say that the death penalty is a wicked thing. There are certainly wicked people; whether or not they should die is for another film. What Decalogue shows is that good, beautiful people exists who kill other people when their society and primal urges jack them up.
The 'science' of naturalism is what has helped me to appreciate Decalogue V. It's not worth the writing space to go into why I would not let myself before, but I see now the worth in making art like this to 'make' people, or perhaps to make people do something.
There's a method to Lazar's compromise of his . . . light. Much of that meaning makes sense only in retrospect. This should not be too strange of an idea: after all, how much of respectable science does not gain meaning in retrospect. I wince when I say it, but Naturalism seems so much more productive and so much less nihilistic when I have the power to say to myself, 'this ruin, this process, this natural process, makes me want to buck the system.'
I do not think Naturalism is painting a doomsday portrait of humanity, telling us to give up our powdered wigs and head to the woods. Instead, I think that it is cataloging proofs and experiments, that we are, of course, free to ignore. We can ignore it all we want, if we want to give the Naturalists more corpses to bury.
For surely, despite their aesthetic specifically designed without sympathy towards their characters' likely and catastrophic fate, they are impassioned by readerly inaction and writerly snobisme. I do see the delightful risk in the hope that the audience will understand what's to be done with what they see. As has been mentioned, there's danger in the hopeless seeing their fate immortalized in stone. There's danger in the hopeful disparaging the Natural because it doesn't correspond to their world view.
And I don't think that the 'hopeful' need be either wealthy or fortunate. I have not seen it, but it seems that the film American Beauty proves the inadequacy of circumstance as a provider of vision or comfort. There are ascetics as well as gluttons as well as beggars who wonder where within themselves their humanity is, who grieve because they can't find anything that separates them from their landscape.
Landscapes can be powerfully and beautifully portrayed, but in reality, landscapes do not enact. They change, sure, and dramatically, but only by a large set of Natural law which no one truly have power over. But it cannot be changed itself.
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