Saturday, March 23, 2013

Of Mice and Muhammad

by Drew Martin
The other day I watched Of Mice and Men with John Malkovich, and I also watched two recent films: Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Of Mice of Men is a classic story by John Steinbeck removed from distractions of civilization. In the movie version there is electricity in the shack where the workers sleep but not much else: a deck of cards, and a gun. When Lennie crushes Curley's hand in a fight, the witnesses cover up the incident by blaming "the machine." Of Mice and Men is timeless and metaphorical. It can be apply to any time and place. Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are the opposite; these films are really specific stories, and determined with their political agendas, which take sides, and piss off the Muslim cultures they attack.

Zero Dark Thirty is a superior film to Argo, and although it shows a much more gruesome side of the United States, I found Argo much more offensive, as a preemptive cultural strike against Iran. That being said, looking at these two films with a eye on media, they are both really interesting because they are loaded with layers of media with themes of espionage, government intelligence and special missions.

I love how the cartoon story board cards are used in Argo to legitimize the cover story of the escaping Americans, especially since story boards are such an essential part of how many films are realized. When I first heard of the killing of Osama bin Laden, I was really interested in seeing how the operation was possible. Kathryn Bigelow did a fantastic job detailing the events. I was amazed by the technology shown, such as the laser scopes on the guns that are only visible with the night vision goggles. What was most interesting was how the commandos called out the names of their targets, with soft hushed voices.

My favorite part of Zero Dark Thirty was when the special forces returning from Osama's compound with a bounty of hard drives and other Al-Qaeda information, were calling out for Sharpies to tag everything. Beyond product placement, the Sharpie is just part of our culture.

Click to watch trailers for:

Of Mice and Men
Zero Dark Thirty