Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

Searching for lice and sense

It's almost more interesting when films make no sense at all.

I've spent most of the day trying to work out what Tim Burton actually thought he was doing in 'Planet of the Apes' and I think I know. What happens at the end is not that the hero comes back to an Earth that has been changed radically in his absence; it is that he finds himself seeing Earth through distant and new eyes. It is the end of the original PoA re-envisioned in terms of the nightmare endings of Dr. Moreau and Animal Farm.

It is not that Thade has replaced Lincoln as the great liberator; it is that he has learned that history is written by the victors and that he has realized that a psychotic like Thade is the sort of person who makes history, that he is that sort of person himself in all except his unthinking irresponsibility. He has made and changed history, and then walked away just as it got interesting.

The trouble is that his leaving is either a satirical point about American foreign policy or a sexual cop-out, and inasmuch as it is undoubtedly the latter it undercuts the former. After all, he has the choice of a sweet-natured, tough blonde with almost nothing to say for herself, or nothing that Burton allows us to hear, or an intelligent, brave articulate brunette who happens to belong to another species. I would like this to have been Burton taking the mickey out of the good girl/bad girl dichotomy, but actually he is posing a question and then running scared from its implications.

PoA would be a very different movie if it were imaginable that Mark Wahlberg would actually consider making love to the Helena Bonham Carter character, Ari, and a much better one; as it is, Bonham Carter plays up Ari's genuine cross-species attraction to him while also making it plausible that she feels something as well as deep loathing for Tim Roth's Thade, right up to the moment when he brands her on the hand. She is one of the few characters in the film who is a realist - she understands what Wahlberg is far better than the other humans and fancies him anyway.

But she won't beg - she offers herself to Thade to save the humans and she asks Wahlberg's character to stay, but she keeps her dignity. Wonderful how a classical technique stays with her amid all the hooting, brachiating and searching for lice.

You hope she and the blonde saw sense once he had gone. This is what slash is for.

And tomorrow, some thoughts on Hedwig I suppose. Which I also saw today.
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