Sunday, November 05, 2006



One of the mottos of this website is "Slow on the Uptake." As long as we're thinking about the Carnival of the Cinema, I might as well go ahead and make some sort of movie post, even though the cinema is on Fridays and today is Saturday. Well, now that I look at the clock, I guess it's actually Sunday, very early, but still. Plus, Miss Tori is busy trying to drink me under the table. She may be winning.

So you'll forgive me if I don't know what I'll be writing about. What movie? What genre? What theme? What have I even seen recently? Oh wait. Now I remember. It's not a specific movie. I guess it is more of a genre, if it can even be called a genre.

It all dates back to Tombstone, the loose retelling of the whole Wyatt Earp/Doc Holliday/OK Corral mythology. It's not the Western genre that I'm concerned with here. It's the catharsis.

I noted it again when I saw Four Brothers. Four Brothers was the story of four boys adopted by a woman who adopts the unadoptable. She also happens to be a sort of neighborhood activist who irritates the corrupt types who inhabit her neighborhood and local potitical structure. When she gets killed in a staged store robbery, the four brothers go out for revenge. It's not the inner city gang warfare genre I'm concerned with here. It's the catharsis.

For all the complaints about, and faults of, movies, when they're done right, they have the power to affect us on deep emotional levels. One of those levels is catharsis: Catharsis, Latin from the Greek Κάθαρσις Katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing" (also literally from the ancient Greek gerund καθαίρειν transliterated as kathairein "to purify, purge," and adjective katharos "pure or clean" ancient and modern Greek: καθαρός), is a sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes overwhelming feelings of great pity, sorrow, laughter or any extreme change in emotion that results in the renewal, restoration and revitalization for living.

So says Wiki at least.

The thing both these movies have is that wonderful feeling of catharsis. We live now in a world, a society, a time, in which revenge is a dish not best served cold, but never served at all. Righteous administration of justice is denied to the vast majority of us, who have been conditioned to live within the constraints of a civilized society. We're stuck in droning lives in which the best we can have is a vicarious thrill of actually being alive. Tombstone and Four Brothers give us that vicarious thrill, that catharsis, that reaffirms what we know to be right, even if we could never act on it ourselves in our real lives. For nine bucks, that's a pretty good deal.
Check out Unforgiven if you're looking for a catharsis. You don't get more cathartic than blowing away a bar full of morally ambigious cowboys.
"Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

Yep. That's a great one, no doubt about it.
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