Friday, February 08, 2008

The Mist

I am still reeling after seeing Frank Darabont's film adaption of Stephen King's novella "The Mist" yesterday. The novella was recently advertised/re-released (?) on ebook site Fictionwise and I decided to re-read it. Then, within days of finishing it and finding that a movie was due out within the week, I found myself champing at the bit to see it - and was there on the release day. (With "Cloverfield" I actually waited for the Saturday.) Well, I must admit the film was quite close to the story ... except the ending. That's the bit that's thrown me. An aside: when I read a review of The Mist today, I found mention of a comment by Stephen Kind soon after the film's release in the US - which , paraphased, says that if anyone reveals the ending, they should be hung by the neck until dead. Well, that may be so, but it's hard to open the debate if you can't discuss it .... so ... in deference ... If you are planning to see the film - STOP READING NOW. SPOILERS AHEAD. To read further, you will need to take the initiative and highlight the following space to reveal the text.
I'm not sure whether the revised ending is to do with the director - or Hollywood per se. In the novella, the main character, his son and a couple of others escape and are seeking a place in the world that is "normal". The question of whether the strange creatures that have recently come to inhabit the Earth (having come with The Mist) will actually inherit it, is left open. The last word in Stephen King's story, literally, is "hope"
Fast forward to the movie version. Again, main character and son, and others, are on the move ... until they run out of petrol. They are in The Mist, waiting for strange creatures to find them and despatch them to their Maker in probably a very painful manner if the other deaths are anything to go by. Luckily, though, main character had, as they set out, risked his life to retrieve a gun (useful in killing creatures) - and so there they are - five in the car - with a gun and four bullets. The timeframe is uncertain, but at some point, we see/hear four shots in the car - and the main character is left, alone, with The Mist. He is distraught and after placing the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger several times as if one more bullet will magically appear, he gets out of the vehicle to await his fate. Through The Mist, he can hear them coming ... and in his grief, they cannot come soon enough. Except, the thing that looms out of The Mist is not of another world, it is a tank, and then another, and another and another ... with soldiers on foot wielding flame throwers and weapons and hell-bent on despatching the creatures and reclaiming the good ol' US of A for humans. The main character stands there and screams and screams and screams. Understandable really. Especially as on one of the refugee trucks that follows the tanks is a woman who had been trapped with them in the supermarket where the townsfolk took refuge, but who left - despite repeated warnings not to - because her children were at home, alone. She has, of course, been re-united with her children. His is dead in the car, despatched with a bullet, so he could make sure he kept his word to ensure "the monsters don't get me".
The Mist is a film about choices from the original author who makes "what if" into an art form (of sorts). Except the movie takes it several steps further by inviting the watcher to question the choices the characters have made ... and how these choices may have been manipulated to ultimately manipulate the viewer. Case in point, if Mrs Carmody had been despatched with one bullet, would (a) escape from the store have been possible, and (b) would there have been 5 bullets remaining in the gun for the penultimate scene? And given the not so c-overt manipulation, what is the central message of the film: that we have nothing to fear but fear itself; that the military will "save the day", or that society is a very thin veneer and in the end, it's the most charismatic, motivated and determined who will "lead" rather than those who are best suited and give the greatest chance of survival?

I'm still thinking about it.

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