Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Films about children...

Watching all of the movies I can find about evil, possessed and feral children has been a strange and sometimes tedious undertaking. It has become something of an absurd completist hobby, but I'm looking for larger patterns, or for those moments when a flash of beauty or meaning is revealed. I've seen some arguably terrible films (Alice, Sweet Alice and Don't Look Now - horror films from the 70s can be pretty risky), some enjoyable classics (The Bad Seed, Lord of the Flies, Village of the Damned, Poltergeist), and I've revisited some beautiful and profound films (The Wild Child).

Many of the films contain a scene or two that inspires a connection, or moments that seem like they could be usefully misremembered (The Changeling). "Misremembering" is a helpful tool in gathering and developing material for Children's Games. Most recent movies are too stylized or self-aware to be used in this way (The Orphan).
Occasionally, a film is extremely close to my core topic, in a surprising way. Dogtooth (dir. Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009) is a film that approaches a feeling at the heart of my project, deeper than any surface features of scary children or identifiable genre.

This beautiful, risky film overlaps with many of the issues I've been exploring - education as violence, protection and risk, the borders between children and adults, narrative as control, the use of games and boredom, connections between language and perception. It also succeeds in feeling horrific without utilizing horror genre signifiers or clich├ęs. It achieves this through bizarre (but entirely possible) behavior, striking (but subtle) stylistic exaggerations, and perverse (but sometimes sensual) sexual energy.
A film like this is not "material", but rather a kindred world.
"...these things you might have seen in a different way, there’s something you might have recognized in them, but this thing gets distorted..." - Lanthimos, from this interview.

Some other movies I've checked off my list:
Kill Baby... Kill!
The Innocents
Children of the Corn
The Brood
Who Can Kill a Child?
Suggestions are always appreciated.