Let The Right One In: Life, undeath and friendship

Let The Right One In Trailer

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Screenwriter: John Ajivde Lindqvist

Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragner

Let The Right One In: Life, undeath and friendship.

Tomas Alfredson’s (2008) Let The Right One In is at once a coming of age drama and an exploration of friendship. However the friendship in this instance is between a living boy and an undead vampire. This has caused some difficulty in looking at what death means for us in terms of what happens upon death.

Greene and Mohammed (2010, p.7) argue that the philosophical question of why death can be seen as something bad can also be applied to the undead. That is they see undeath as being likened to death in that the undead are unable to fulfil the desires that the living can indulge in (Greene and Mohammed, 2010, p.9). One of these desires is love and friendship. Eli in their eyes would not be capable of such things due to her lack of living.

Eli is the vampire of this tale and after events elsewhere her and her procurer, Hakan, move to the Stockholm suburb of Blakeberg. They move in next door to Oskar, who has troubles with bullying at his school and is seen as an outcast among his peers. Their first meeting is at night, of course, as Oskar pretends to stab his tormentor from school. Here Eli tells him they can’t be friends but as the film progresses we see a change in Eli’s feelings towards Oskar and a friendship, through Morse code, burgeons. Behind this starting friendship is Hakan’s failed attempts at getting Eli the blood that is needed to sustain a vampire which leads to Eli taking matters into his own hands.

One such attack leads to Virginia, one of the locals at the pub, being infected and she slowly comes to realise her nature. Instead of succumbing to her new desires she asks a nurse to open the blinds thus combusting in accordance with vampiric lore. Here we have an example of one choosing death over being undead and possibly confirming Greene and Mohammed’s thoughts that any normal person would see that being undead is worse than being dead. However, the growing love and friendship between Eli and Oskar shows that a vampire can display qualities we would normally associate with the living.

In the very end Eli shows a true, if somewhat horrific, display of his love for Oskar by saving him from being drowned by Oskar’s bullies. They then leave Blakeberg behind and it is assumed that Oskar will be Eli’s new procurer. While this may suggest that Eli is evil and using Oskar their final communication on screen is the tapping, in Morse code, of the words “I Love You”. It is difficult to reconcile the evil of the undead and their inability to have the feelings of the living with this simple but meaningful gesture. As more is written on this story actual analysis may be possible but not until we see past the Hollywood style monstrous vampire that pervades literature and its analysis.

Greene, R., & Mohammed, S. (2010). Zombies, vampires and philosophy: New life for the undead. [EBL Version]. Retrieved from: http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/%28S%28qux0p2h2iw3gejfc2ag0oly1%29%29/Reader.aspx?p=547557&o=96&u=auj%2fgfdBTTM9C%2bqGRevMUQ%3d%3d&t=1307687340&h=1F4D8F8E6F033648DB128FB7852867DC5C6E9947&s=4439158&ut=245&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n


Pan’s Labyrinth: One girl’s reality.

Pan’s Labyrinth Trailer

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Sreenwriter: Guillermo Del Toro

Starring:  Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Sergi López

Pan’s Labyrinth: One girl’s reality.

Guillermo Del Toro’s (2006) Pan’s Labyrinth deals with one girls reversion into a mythical world of her, supposed, own making. However how can we truly know what is real and is reality objective. Through psychoanalysis one could be lead to believe that Ophelia’s world is a happenstance of the harsh and cruel world she lives in (Seagal, 2006). How then do we know if it is her circumstance that mars her reality or if her fantasy can have an outcome on her other life thus having an effect on reality? If her fantasy can affect reality what is to say that it too is not within the realm of reality?

Early on we hear Ophelia’s mother remonstrating her for bringing to many books to her step-fathers’ abode, especially the fact they are fairytales and these are nonsense. However it is these fairytales and the girl’s beliefs that allow her to live through a harrowing existence. In her new home Ophelia is visited by a faun who gives her instructions to fulfil a quest to return the princess of the opening fable to her father. What ensues is a fantastical journey played against the background of the brutality of Vidal and Franco’s Spain.

Throughout the film we see instances of the sheer brutality of Ophelia’s stepfather and as an audience it would be easy to sympathise with Ophelia’s reversion to fantasy in escaping her horrid reality but how can we explain things from her fantasy impacting on her reality. If you consider the instance of Vidal finding Ophelia’s magic root and her mother’s subsequent hurling of it into the fire remonstrating to Ophelia that there is no such thing as magic. How can you explain the immediate effects of the magic roots death to that of the complications of Carmen’s pregnancy and death? MacKinnon and Heise (2010, p.232) assert that the continental philosophers view of reality is subject to the use of language, and in some instance visuals, and it is therefore society and reality that is made from the construction of words. If this is the case then cannot Ophelia create her own reality in parallel to the reality of the other protagonists in the film?

Ophelia’s death in one world and re-birth of life in the world of her fantasies is the final time where we can see her ‘fantasy’ impacting on reality. Her refusal to turn her brother over to the faun or Vidal displays a merging of both realities which affects both worlds (Orme, 2010). That is her death in one and new life in another.

Mackinnon, N., & Heise, D. (2010). Self, identity and social institutions. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Orme, J. (2010). Narrative desire and disobedience in Pan’s Labyrinthe. Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies,24(2), 219–234. Retrieved From: http://proquest.umi.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au /pqdweb?index=0&di

Segal, T. (2009). Pan’ s Labyrinth : A subjective view on childhood fantasies and the nature of evil. International Review of Psychiatry, 21(3), 269-270. doi: 10.1080/09540260902747193