Friday, March 11, 2011

Comfort Films: Cloverfield

I could really insert any giant monster film here, but Cloverfield is my personal favorite of the lot (although my love for Godzilla knew no bounds between my seventh and tenth years of existence on this earth).

Sure, a ton of people die. Well, actually, pretty much everyone dies. How can that be comforting?

It's quite simple... so simple in fact, that I need to borrow from my old pal Soren Kierkegaard to make my point.

Once upon a time, a few measly years before his own death, ol' Kierks wrote a book entitled Sickness Unto Death. Now, if I were an astute, handsomer fellow, I'd take the time to talk about Kierkegaard's writing style and the fact that he wrote most of his stuff under different names, so that understanding whether Kierkegaard actually believed what his character pseudonym wrote is quite a mind-bending experience in and of itself, but since I am not an astute, handsomer fellow, and since this is a write-up about comfort rather than intellectual fidelity, I'm not going to broach that subject matter. I'll just assume that my buddy Kierks wrote in earnest... anyway... where was I? Ah yes, the sickness!

What is the Sickness that kills us all, according to old man Soren? Despair. Kierkegaard argues that everyone, and he most certainly means EVERYONE, is bound to despair relentlessly in this life. Even if you think you are fine and dandy, you are really despairing, and because you are unaware of your despair, Kierks would say you're really far away from getting rid of that there despair.

I listened to a podcast about this book, and the philosopher dudes discussing the topic seemed to universally find Kierkegaard's premise repugnant. They all adamantly defended their content. Okay. If they want to hold onto that belief, I won't stand in their way. All I can say is that as for me, I am often brought to a condition that I think could be labeled despair. I think Scripture's got my back on this one too:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.    Romans 8:22-23
 Inward groaning: that's the spot. That's the sensation. That's the reality.

Yet, despite the apparent universality of groanings going around, life continues to spin as usual. The world turns and people go about their business, as if they are not groaning from the inside out.

Giant monsters change everything. They are the perfect manifestation of the inward groaning. The groaning keeps messaging me from within, chanting, "Something's gotta give, something's gotta give, something's gotta give." Well dear friends, when a giant lizard rampages through central park, I'd say the something just gave.

I recall reading that Godzilla was born out of fear and remorse. Godzilla wrecked havoc on Tokyo in 1954, just long enough for Japan to internalize, calculate, and make manifest the horror of being nuked. Godzilla is the harbinger of judgment. He is an incalculable monstrosity that wages vengeance upon Japan for some unspeakable sin. No other nation in the world knows what it's like to have whole cities eviscerated in an instant. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are unknowable experiences from any foreigner's vantage point. Japan meditated on it, and out comes this giant lizard of doom.

Reason tells us that the inner groaning can't stay forever. It will break us or it will be somehow taken from us. It's much easier to imagine a breaking of our reality than a rebuilding.

You know what else is beautiful about Giant Creatures attacking humanity? It brings us together. People in general become loving, as we are all bonded against a common enemy.

Cloverfield is particularly awesome in that the creature doesn't have a simple biological architecture. Even by the end of the film, it's hard to describe what the beast looks like.

Perhaps this little ditty tonight didn't make any sense. I don't much care if it did. The point of these comfort films discussions is not to be brilliant and groundbreaking. I just like snuggling up to my prehistoric-alien monsters and feeling all warm inside.
And to think of it -- God is so much bigger than Godzilla, standing on the shoulders of King Kong who is being carried by Mothra. So. Much. Bigger.

1 comment:

  1. Im right with you, groaning in the flesh for sure. Great film too. I actually saw it opening night. The viral buildup was just top notch.