At the end of Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built, Matt Dillon goes to ****. For many viewers this will come as a relief, since the director’s tableau vivant of Eugène Delacroix’s La Barque de Dante is reassuringly traditional, and quite soothing after more than two hours of being subjected to this serial-killing windbag and his atrocities.
Cinematic depictions of ****, like Von Trier’s, tend to be reductively Manichean and almost endearingly literal. Nevertheless, **** in the movies comes in several different forms.
Souls - Way - Afterlife - Purgatory - Matter
Souls on their way to the afterlife are sometimes detained in a bureaucratic purgatory before being allowed to move on. (See A Matter of Life and Death, Beetlejuice, Afterlife.) But not all way stations are post-mortem versions of the civil service. In Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, Colin Farrell is obliged to reflect on his sins in a picturesque city full of misty canals, art museums and Belgian beer. “Maybe that’s what **** is: the entire rest of eternity spent in **** Bruges.”
According to Jean-Paul Sartre’s play Huis Clos (No Exit), **** is being trapped in a room with people who torture you psychologically. We’ve all been there. A contemporary version would consist of being trapped in a cinema with people who talk, text and play with their smartphones, but any scenario in which characters are confined and tormenting each other would qualify: Night of the Living Dead, The Hateful Eight, Gone Girl, The Exterminating Angel ...
Gates - End - Humanity - Catriona - MacColl
“If those gates are left open, it could mean the end of humanity,” says Catriona MacColl in The City of the Living Dead, first of Lucio Fulci’s Gates of **** trilogy. One could say the same for the gates in the other two films: The Beyond and The House By the Cemetery. What happens when Fulci’s gates are opened? Zombies. Also, entrail-vomiting,...
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