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Brighton Journal | 31st May 2020

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A Few Classics To Enjoy on Lockdown

A Few Classics To Enjoy on Lockdown
Nick Staunton
  • On 2nd April 2020
  • https://www.brightonjournal.co.uk

With the Lockdown upon us, there are many trying to stay positive. But what if you just want to wallow in the pandemic turmoil? It wouldn’t be that bad would it? It could even be seen as a cathartic experience – one in which you let the complexities and challenges of your current situation wash over you in an exhilarating pessimistic wave. Then, once that wave has passed, the hopelessness swept from your hair, a more positive mind-set can resume. If all that sounds surprisingly lovely, then look no further  – 5 films and novels to lead you away from an anxiety induced pit of despair and, (hopefully), to a ‘I guess this isn’t all that bad’ conclusion. Elliott Woods gives us his best 5 to catch up on

The Road

Let’s start off with a film and book recommendation – The Road. Written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men, Blood Meridian) and adapted for the screen by Director John Hillcoat (The Proposition), The Road is a story about a Man and Boy as they travel south through a barren apocalyptic wasteland. Constantly fighting for survival, the Man must teach the Boy how to survive in a world ravaged of food, plagued by a murderous cold, infested by violent groups of cannibals, and not a toilet roll in sight (that last one doesn’t seem to bother them).  It’s a nail biting story – activities often beset by tedium are elevated into anxiety by the unforgiving world in which they inhabit. Various threats swirl around them as they journey through the wasteland.

That is not to say that this is a story devoid of hope – surprisingly both film and novel are able to conjure a glimpse of light in an otherwise bleak world. The novel sees McCarthy weaving cosmic philosophy expertly into the text, with the writing style that is as beautiful as it is terrifying. The films use of stunning cinematography both accentuates the violence of this world and displays the romantic sense of the sublime. With a fantastic performance by Viggo Mortansoan and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and a compelling score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, both film and novel are able to capture a startling pilgrimage of hope. 

Mad Max: Fury Road

Let’s move on to something a bit less sombre shall we. Millers soft reboot/sequel to his 1979 film Mad Max sees Tom Hardy in the part of Max Rockatansky, and Charlize Theron as Furiosa as they flee from the overlord forces of Immortan Joe. This post-apocalyptic action film is one of the best displays of full throttled adrenalin in the last 10 years. Beautifully stylistic and utterly bombastic, Miller crafts a film that is wonderfully deranged, barely giving you time to catch your breath whilst also showcasing a surprising amount of narrative depth. 

In an incredible display of world building, every action and plot point has a sense of physicality, with Miller opting to show the viewer the story rather than explain it. If you’re looking for something to get your heart-pumping during this lockdown, (and Joe Wicks online PE lessons aren’t quite your thing) this is definitely one to watch!

28 Days Later 

Danny Boyle’s classic zombie film sees Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders, Batman Begins) wake from a 28-day coma. As Jim roams around a derelict London he starts to realise that something is amiss – a mysterious virus has overrun the United Kingdom, and he and a group of survivors must search for some form of security. 

Hmmm – ‘a mysterious virus has overrun the United Kingdom’… maybe don’t watch this one; could be a bit too close to home. If you are feeling brave though, 28 Days Later is definitely worth a visit – Characters you care about, gorgeous cinematography and a chilling insight into how the UK might cope in a pandemic. 

 

1984 

Time for a classic – George Orwell’s seminal masterpiece is one that has shocked and inspired readers for generations. Published in 1949 the novel imagines a future in which a totalitarian government oppresses its subjects through a combination of war, surveillance, and the repression of individuality (sound familiar?). 1984 centres on the character of Winston Smith, a Party member rebelliously navigating the omnipresent government, which he hates, dreaming of a world without their presence whilst also understanding the futility of this dream. A terrifying vision of a purgatory existence, in which Orwell’s precognition of hell is equally disturbing and impressive. 

Whilst the tyrannical government depicted in Orwell’s novel might not be your first thought/fear during the current pandemic – if there is one thing that dystopia’s have taught us; it’s that there need only be one event to rework the fabric of society. Whether it be the implications of mass production, the exploitation  of our ecosystem, or the reign of Boris Johnson, (maybe not that last one… hopefully), present anxieties can path the way to a worrying future. 

Vivarium 

With flickers of the Twilight Zone, this thriller sees a young couple, Gemma and Tom (Poots, Eisenberg), as they look for their ideal home. When attempting to leave white-picket-fence suburbia, they find themselves in a labyrinth, with each road taking them back to their starting point. 

This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, the premise can feel overindulgent and too bizarre for many a viewer. However, with a striking visual design, and fantastic performances, Lorcan Finneganâ’s film is definitely a televisual tale of the un-expected. For those on house arrest, with plenty of time to go stir crazy looking at the same set of walls day in day out, this could be rather fun whilst striking a chord close to home.

   

 

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