Film Friday: A Trailer With More Value Than The Movie

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I think it was my co-blogger Dave that first started doing Musical Monday here at Citizen Orange, and ever since I've wanted to try and do Film Fridays and Book Wednesdays, or something along those lines. Book Wednesdays will probably be the most difficult, but music and a film once a week shouldn't be too hard.

I'm almost embarrassed to start this feature with the film Battle: Los Angeles. Let's just say I'm happy that I waited for it to come up on my Netflix queue instead of paying to watch it at a movie theater. The only reason I'm not ashamed to write about this is that it gives me the opportunity to share this trailer with people. I think I first watched after having come across this Gawker post. There Richard Lawson says it best: "While the film will probably wind up being standard alien fare, the trailer is almost... beautiful."
For me the film wasn't even standard alien fare so much as it was a bad military film with aliens in the background. Director Jonathan Liebsman describes it as putting Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down together with Aliens. I don't think he touches any of those films, but it gives you a sense of what he was going for. Despite the limited plot of U.S. marines in Los Angeles being our only line of defense against aliens coming in to "invade us and wipe us out like genocidal Nazis" actor Aaron Eckhart does a good job, and I was particularly impressed by Latin@ actors Ramón Rodriguez and Michelle Rodriguez (unrelated). Hollywood casting is a tough and racist business, and it's good to see Latin@s getting the representation they're due in the U.S. military. Sierra Leone actor Adetokumboh McCormack represents for migrants by playing a Nigerian doctor looking to gain his citizenship through the military. "I'd rather be in Afghanistan," he says when the aliens invade.

The reason I think this film fails so miserably is because it fails to comprehend the existential questions that alien invasions represent in fiction. Human interaction with aliens in fiction generally represent two historical cultural phenomena in my estimation, the encuentro between European colonizers and the people of the Americas, and the "invasion" of migrants into migrant receiving nation-states. Migration, of course, plays a crucial role in both phenomena. District 9 is my favorite alien movie of all-time partly because it's fully conscious of the broader cultural context of aliens in fiction and stands firmly on the right side of that cultural context, I believe.

This brings me to the only worthwhile thing that Battle: Los Angeles will compel me to say. When the dominant conception of aliens in film is that of beings coming in to wipe us out like "genocidal Nazis" it becomes clear that that we should no longer refer to migrants as aliens. There might have been a time where the word "alien" was not predominantly connected with beings coming to destroy us from outer space, but we no longer live in that time. This is connected to the South African context of District 9 because it was actually a pro-migrant friend that I made on facebook, Braam Hanekom of People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) in South Africa, that taught me that Nelson Mandela ended the practice of referring to migrants as aliens in South Africa when he came into power. We're a long way from ending that in the U.S. I would argue that the primary cultural battle should be against referring to human beings as "illegal", right now, but maybe someday we'll have enough power to end the legal characterization of migrants as "aliens" in the U.S.

Now I get to talk about the trailer, which I'm much more excited to review. It showcases the special effects of Battle: Los Angeles and some really great aerial views of the city, which are easily the best parts of the film. It is the pairing of those special effects and shots of Los Angeles with the haunting song by Johann Johannsson "The Sun's Gone Dim and the Sky's Turned Black" which makes the trailer beautiful. Here are the lyrics:

The sun's gone dim
and the sky's turned black
'cause I loved her
and she didn't love back

There's a reason that love has played a prominent role in music and poetry as far back as I know to go. This song is touching because I imagine we've all had the experience of loving someone and not being loved back. I'll go a step further and say that I believe Love comes from God, and that love for a person on this earth is frequently a metaphor for the Love of God, especially in music and poetry. I see beauty in this trailer because it's easy to imagine the feeling of God not loving us in the midst of the images of violence and war that are featured in the trailer. The thought of God not loving us is certainly enough to make the sun go dim and the sky turn black.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on July 15, 2011 9:28 PM.

Pro-Migrant Democrats Denounce Lamar Smith's Bill Limiting Obama's Discretion was the previous entry in this blog.

Musical Monday: A Classic from Ricardo Arjona is the next entry in this blog.

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