Silent Hill


I had a nice conversation with seven or eight people coming down on the escalator after we all saw "Silent Hill." They wanted me lớn explain it to lớn them. I said I didn"t have a clue. They said, "You"re supposed to lớn be a movie critic, aren"t you?" I said, "Supposed lớn be. But we work mostly with movies." "Yeah," said the girl in the Harley t-shirt. "I guess this was like a video clip game that you like had to play in order to lượt thích understand the movie."

I guess. I was out in Boulder last week on a panel about đoạn clip games & whether they can be art, and a lot of the students said they were really looking forward to "Silent Hill" because it"s one of the best games & they read on the internet that the movie was supposed khổng lồ live up lớn the game. That was all speculation, of course, because Sony Pictures declined to preview the film for anybody, perhaps because they were concerned it would not live up khổng lồ the game, or because they were afraid it would. When I told one student that the movie was not being previewed, there was real pain on his face, as if he had personally been devalued.

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Not only can I not describe the plot of this movie, but I have a feeling the last scene reverses half of what I thought I knew (or didn"t know). What I can say is that it"s an incredibly good-looking film. The director, Christophe Gans, uses graphics and special effects & computers và grainy, scratchy film stock & surrealistic images and makes "Silent Hill" look more lượt thích an experimental art film than a horror film -- except for the horror, of course. The visuals are terrific; credit also to lớn cinematographer Dan Laustsen, production designer Carol Spier, & the art, set & costume artists. But what are we khổng lồ make of dialogue such as I will now describe?

A group of undead citizens of the ghost town of Silent Hill have gathered for some witch-burning. The town was abandoned 30 years ago because of the fumes from mine fires which still smolder beneath the surface. Grey ash falls lượt thích rain. "Something terrible happened here," a character says perceptively. The townspeople pile wood on a bonfire in the center of an abandoned church, và tie an alleged witch lớn a ladder which is then lowered over the flames until the victim"s skin gets extra crispy. Next up: Little Sharon (Jodell Ferland), the daughter of the heroine Rose (Radha Mitchell). She is tied to lớn the ladder và prepared to be lowered and roasted, when her mother bursts into the church and cries out, và I quote, "It"s OK, baby. Everything"s gonna be OK!"

The people who live in Silent Hill are dead, I guess. Some of them glow like old embers on a fire, which is not a sign of life. They live in abandoned buildings & in the mines và in a Smoke và Flame Factory, which you will recall from my Little Movie Glossary is a factory-like location of uncertain purpose which generates a lot of smoke và flames. Also sharing their space are rat-like little CGI insects, who scurry around thinking they look a lot scarier than they do.

Rose has come here with her daughter Sharon because the girl has taken to lớn sleep-walking at night, and standing on the edge of high cliffs while saying "Silent Hill" in her sleep. Obviously the correct treatment is to take her to lớn the abandoned town itself. Rose and Sharon race off in the night, pursued by Rose"s husband (Sean Bean) và a motorcycle cop (Laurie Holden) who is dressed like a leather mistress. The usual zombie-like little girl turns up in the headlights, there is a crash, and then everybody wanders through the town for two hours while the art direction looks great. I especially liked the snake-like wires at the over which held people suspended in mid-air. I also liked it when Johnny Cash quý phái "Ring of Fire" on the sound track, since if there was ever a movie in need of a tuy vậy about a ring of fire, this is that film.

Now here"s a funny thing. Although I did not understand the story, I would have appreciated a great deal less explanation. All through the movie, characters are pausing in order to offer arcane back-stories và historical perspectives and metaphysical insights và occult orientations. They talk và talk and somehow their words bởi vì not light up any synapses in my brain, if my brain has synapses and they"re supposed to lớn light up, và if it doesn"t và they"re not, then they still don"t make any sense.

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Perhaps those who have played the game will understand the movie, và enjoy it. Speaking of synapses, another member of that panel discussion at Boulder was Dr. Leonard Shlain, chairman of laparoscopic surgery at California Pacific Medical Center, & an author whose book Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light makes you think that if anyone could understand "Silent Hill," he could.

Dr. Shlain made the most interesting bình luận on the panel. He said they took some four & five year-olds and gave them video clip games & asked them lớn figure out how to lớn play them without instructions. Then they watched their brain activity with real-time monitors. "At first, when they were figuring out the games," he said, "the whole brain lit up. But by the time they knew how lớn play the games, the brain went dark, except for one little point." Walking out after "Silent Hill," I thought of that lonely pilot light, and I understood why I failed lớn understand the movie. My damn brain lit up too much.

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Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.