Thursday, 21 October 2010

Splice Review

Splice was written and directed in 2009 by Vincenzo Natali, the film was released on the 23rd of July 2010. The film starts off in a laboratory where we first meet Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley). They are in the middle of an experimentation to create a hybrid creature using a variety of different animal genes. From here we watch the story progress as the hybrid, later named Dren, grows.
I found splice to be a very interesting film, yet very irritating at times. For example, the scene where Elsa tries to tame the creature and refuses to leave the room when she is putting her life in danger really frustrated me. Who in their right mind would do something so stupid when you know nothing about the hybrid? Especially when the thing has already caused you some harm resulting in you having a fit. Bearing in mind this film isn’t real, nor is it trying to be, I thought this part of the film was one of the most unrealistic and was just a silly act of bravery.

Claudia Puig from USA Today says,The story raises questions about her damaged upbringing, then inexplicably drops them”. This quote is from Puig’s review of the film, the quote is talking about Sarah Polley’s role in the film as Elsa. I believe this could relate to why she takes the risk of interacting with the creature. Later on we do find out that Elsa did in fact include her genes in the creature, which brings her and the audience to believe that the creature is, in a sense, her baby. However seeing as this is an “experiment”, and Dren is only a few days old at the time, she shouldn’t have let herself become that attached in the first place. This brings me back to my point of it being a silly act of bravery and I stand by that statement. Claudia’s statement also brings up the question about Elsa having a damaged upbringing. What I actually see it as is not a problem with her upbringing, but with the stage she at in her relationship. Because Elsa and Clive are always working in the lab they don’t get to spend much personal time together. There’s a scene in the film where Clive says “its been a long time” whilst rubbing Elsa’s leg in a suggestive way, this is a telltale sign of their relationship not being the way it used to be before the heavy workload perhaps? I feel this is strong evidence that explains why Elsa would include her own genes in the creation of the hybrid.

I wish Dren’s persona had been more fully developed. What does she think? What does she feel? There has never been another life form like her”.

                                                                                                                     I agree with what Ebert has said here. I also noticed is that they didn’t really give any insight to Dren’s personality or feelings. The only emotion’s she really displays in the film is frustration, anger, and occasional happiness. For being the only creature of her kind I think Natali could have blown us away by giving Dren some character, especially since she’s part human (Elsa). It’s a little disappointing to feel that this film took the easy option of simply having the hybrid be an experiment that acts animalistic throughout, instead of say making her have more personality traits of Elsa.
                                                                                                                      “The non-infant Dren is played by Delphine Chaneac and assorted CG parts. Chaneac emits only weird cries and whines and is limited to making the facial expressions of a confused toddler”.
                   If they can do it for comic characters made in the 60s then they can certainly do it now, and probably to a better standard. One of many examples of hybrid characters in comics is Henry “Hank” P. McCoy, also known as Beast from X-Men. Hank’s father Norton McCoy was exposed to massive amounts of radiation while working at a nuclear power plant, this lead to his son Henry being born a mutant who showed signs of being different from birth. Although he has been mutated into a beast with superhuman agility, he is still highly intelligent, speaks fluently and comes across a kind gentle being.

Turnaround of Beast in final furry form
What I found interesting about the film is that, out of all the films we watched, it was the first to show the actual progression of the hybrid, from birth to death. This was very helpful in a number of ways. The first is that it helped me a lot with ideas for my final character design. Although it was the last film we watched on this topic, and some may think at this stage it would be too late to make alterations to my character, it actually helped me on a major deciding factor of what to incorporate into my portrait. Splice was also the first film to include more then one transformation of the hybrid. I got to see the transitions of each transformation and learnt about how current state of mind and mood swings could influence the changes Dren made. This helped with the anatomical side of creating a hybrid with human traits and also the emotional side in of how I might look in my portrait based off my own personality.
Child Dren

Mature Dren

A noticeable factor about this film is that it’s the one of very few films about metamorphosis that wasn’t scared to exploit the areas other films are afraid of touching upon, which is metamorphosis and sex. All other films of this genre have a sexual implement, at some point in the film, in which they fail to make completely apparent due to a variety of reasons. For example the 1940’s film Cat People, written by Jacques Tourneur, was about a woman who would transform into a panther if she became sexually aroused. Being a film made in those days it wasn’t really acceptable to show sex on film, nor was to see a woman going off with more then one man. Sex for women was only really acceptable for married women and only with their husbands. A woman who went off with more then one man was automatically considered a whore no matter the circumstances. This is very different to nowadays where a woman can have sex with a boyfriend, split up with him, then find another boyfriend and have sex again. It’s not seen as so much of a sin unless the woman is actually acting like a whore the way we describe one today. A more erotic remake of the 1942 classic Cat People was actually made in 1982 which included scenes of a sexual nature. Images of that scene in bibliography(didn’t feel like posting the actual pictures in the blog).
Still Splice took this to a whole new level. Not only is the concept of sexual fantasy within metamorphosis induced in this film, they actual have a sex scenes where Clive is somewhat seduced by Dren. For some people this could be seen as quite fulfilling, but for many others including myself it was quite the cringe factor so have to sit and watch that. During the film it made me think “why would the director actually do this”?! To add that little something extra Dren actually transforms during intercourse and sprouts wings, evidently showing that she’s undergoing pleasure and maybe even reached climax. To take things even further there’s also a rape scene near the end involving Dren’s male form and Elsa. This I thought was sick because 1, it was quite graphic and 2, because Elsa’s DNA is part of Dren this could be seen as incest, its done in quite a subliminal way however. This is brought up in a review by Natali himself and he says:
“I think that’s where Splice steps into places that other films have not tread, or perhaps have been a little afraid to tread because there is a sexual component to this story. There’s a sexual component to the relationship between the scientist and the creature that’s about as froidient as you can get.”
-5 second intermission-
“The prime directive of any life form is to procreate, and when you create something like Dren, that’s an aspect of her being that you’re going to have to address. I think what’s so wonderful about the horror genre is that it gives you licence to go to places that you could never comfortably go with a normal film. If we made a movie about….incest…that’s a film that probably not many people would wanna’ see, but if you make a horror film that on a almost subliminal level deals with that theme, it actually could be wildly popular”.
I’ll end this review by saying the film was a great exploration of many different areas both scientifically and erotically. The design of the hybrid throughout the film was a good touch and this helped me with my own hybrid project. Things I personally didn’t like were lack of Dren’s Personality. The odd sex scenes where not my thing either.

Bibliography: – Review from director Vincenzo Natali

P.S The reason the paragraphs may look a bit messed up is blogger's fault. It likes to make the simplest of things very complicated..

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