Released in 2011, Lars Von Trier’s film, Melancholia, follows sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsburg) as they grapple with earth’s imminent doom. What commences as a film about a newly married couple—on the surface—gradually spirals into an amalgamation of familial dysfunction, complicated work dynamics, and mental chaos. Meanwhile, amidst the stars orbits a planet named Melancholia that threatens to end life on earth. A visually arresting cinematic experience, Melancholia is a captivating masterpiece in motion. Via scenes whose cinematography and mise-en-scene capture allusions to biblical anecdotes and artistic works, and slow-motion editing that suspends characters in time, Melancholia is an allegory that reflects the lurking inevitably of death and emotional distress.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give is a film adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas, a novel that rocked the world of contemporary young adult literature as it foregrounds the dark realities of police brutality and the ripple effect it can have on a community, and even a nation. The narrative follows Starr (played by actress Amandla Stenberg), a young black woman who witnesses the murder of her friend Khalil (played by actor Algee Smith) at the hands of a white police officer. From that point on, the audience witnesses Starr’s internal battle between wanting to remain silent in order to maintain a life of normalcy, or speak in honor of Khalil, and other black men that have fallen victim to these unjust crimes. As an audience, we are immersed into this complex narrative through the cinematographic moves of the close-up and color. Through the use close-up shots, and a varying color scheme, we are no longer allowed to be voyeurs, distantly observing Starr’s hardships. Instead, we are forced to engage with the characters on screen, empathize with them, and face the issue of police brutality head on.
Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund’s 2002 film, City of God, is a vortex that swallows the audience into its cyclic narrative that emphasizes the dangers of toxic masculinity and consequences of the notion “being a man.” As observed in the film, a twisted perspective of manhood can be a bullet that passes through one generation to the next, destined to extinguish them all.
Meirelles and Lund’s film is a stunning execution of a labyrinth-like storyline in which the audience delves into the lives of multiple characters. Then, through cinematic moves such as foreshadowing and flashbacks, seamlessly intertwines these plots that become a metaphorical domino effect. As the film progresses, and gradually strips down the plot, we observe how the actions of one character cause a steady disruption in the lives of everyone else. From the jarring, handheld camera scenes, to the drastic shifts in color gradients from deep, saturated blues, to honeyed yellows, the audience experiences the chaotic and disruptive life of the film’s gang members. Similarly, to the characters in the story, the audience is overtaken by this whirlpool narrative, trapped in “the slum [that had] been a purgatory.” But, “now it’s hell.”
Hello, readers! Here we have another “Meet the Editors” post for this October! Today we learn more about Zakiya Cowan.
Zakiya Cowan is currently a sophomore at Lewis University. She is majoring in English: creative and professional writing, with a minor in Spanish. She is also the Student Worker for the University’s English Department.
Zakiya believes her love for reading and writing developed from learning how to read at a young age. Over the years, as she studied different types of literature and methods of writing, she knew that English was her passion. In her free time, when she’s not volunteering at PAWS or going to concerts, Zakiya loves to listen to music, read, and watch Netflix. Some of her favorite television shows include Shameless, The Office, and Workaholics. Zakiya hopes to one day work for a publishing company and play an important role in the book-making process. She also hopes to become a published author herself and see her work on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.