Don’t Go Alone in the Dark To the House On the Left By the Cemetery On the Edge of the Park

IF YOU SPEND enough time watching movies, you’re bound to find a movie or two that, after the movie is over, leaves you wondering “What in the hell is wrong with the people who made this movie?
One of those movies is The Last House on the Left.

Originally released in 1972 and re-made in 2009, The Last House On the Left is a loosely-based exploitation ripoff adaptation of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 film The Virgin Spring.

Based on an a Swedish folktale, The Virgin Spring depicts a father’s revenge against the men who rape and murder his young daughter.

virgin spring 2
One of the United Kingdom’s infamous “video nasties”, The Last House on the Left, along with Reggero Deodato’s rape-revenge flick, House on the Edge of the Park, the rape-revenge themed I Spit on Your Grave (not to be mistaken with I Eat Your Skin, I Eat Your Corpse, or I Hate Your Guts, which, for those who are curious about that film’s plot, is about a trio of racists who terrorize a black family), and the rape-vigilante revenge themed Death Wish, Wes Craven’s The Last House On the Left was among the early 1970’s cinematic progenitors of grindhouse exploitation flicks and reprehensible cinema.

last house poster

Whereas many exploitation films are completely devoid of significance beyond a few boobie shots and gratuitous violence, The Last House On the Left is unique in that the film not only succeeds as one of 70’s cinema’s finest examples of an exploitation flick done well, the film is also philosophically intriguing in its probing on the nature of violence and the ethics of revenge.

WHAT WOULD 1970’S CINEMA BE WITHOUT GRATUITOUS SEX AND EXCESSIVE VIOLENCE?

WHAT WOULD 1970’S CINEMA BE WITHOUT GRATUITOUS SEX AND EXCESSIVE VIOLENCE?

In Bergman’s The Virgin Spring and in Craven’s The Last House On the Left a naïve young maiden and her traveling companion encounter a trio of criminals who rape and murder the young woman (and in The Last House On the Left the young woman’s traveling companion).

virgin spring1

krug and mari

The trio arrive at the home of the maiden, where they are given shelter by the young woman’s parents. When the parents of the young woman discover that their daughter has been murdered by their trio, the parents take revenge against their murderous guests.

In The Last House On the Left, the young maiden is 17 year-old Mari Collingwood. Mari and her (older and worldly) friend Phyllis, are headed to a rock concert by the aptly named Bloodlust when Phyllis suggests that the pair score some marijuana before heading to the show.

mari phyllis and junior

The women are lured with the promise of drugs to the lair of escaped murderer Krug Stillo (played by the late David Hess) and his cohorts, Krug’s girlfriend Sadie and Weasel, and Krug’s heroin addicted son, Junior. Krug and his group immediately begin to brutalize the pair, eventually kidnapping the young women and driving them to the woods, where Krug, Sadie, and Weasel humiliate and abuse the young women sexually. Krug forces Phyllis to urinate on herself and carves his name into Mari’s chest. Phyllis, who manages to escape, is tracked down and is stabbed and disemboweled. Mari is raped by Krug and shot.
krug and mari 2

The killers eventually make their way to a home in the woods that (coincidentally) is the home of the Collingwood family. Mari’s parents, unaware that their unexpected guests are their daughter’s killers, offer Krug and company food and shelter for the night.

last house dinner scene

It’s not long before the murderous trio discover that the middle-aged couple who offered them food and shelter are Mari Collingwood’s parents. Junior, unable to bear guilt and severe heroin withdrawal, expresses his apprehensions about the murders and the possibility of being found out.

Unfortunately for Krug and his crew, Junior expresses his apprehensions a little too loudly.

Mari’s parents overhear the heated exchange between Junior and Krug’s crew. The couple, devastated by the news of their daughter’s death, devise a plan to exact revenge against Krug and his accomplices. The Collingwoods kill Krug, Sadie, and Weasel (he is dispatched by Mari’s mother, who bites off his penis).

KRUG’S DEATH MAY BE THE FIRST DEATH BY CHAINSAW IN CINEMATIC HISTORY

KRUG’S DEATH MAY BE THE FIRST DEATH BY CHAINSAW IN CINEMATIC HISTORY

In a final act of brutality, Krug, arguably a prime contender for worst father of the year, persuades his son to commit suicide.

junior suicide

The film ends as Mari’s parents, having exacted their revenge against Krug and his crew, embrace each other; shattered by the depths of brutality to which they have plunged.

Mari's parents

Our gut reaction to the brutal murder of Mari and Phyllis may be to side with the parents. It’s more than reasonable to think that any person would want to exact revenge on those who do harm to the people that we love.

We may all agree that Krug and his band of criminals deserve to be punished for what they’ve done. But the notion of punishing someone for a crime isn’t as simple as it may seem. There are important questions we must ask before doling any punishment.

Namely, how much punishment is enough – and, more importantly, who does the punishing?

WEASEL DREAMED THAT HIS PUNISHMENT WOULD GO SOMETHING LIKE THIS. IN REALITY, IT WENT A BIT DIFFERENTLY

WEASEL DREAMED THAT HIS PUNISHMENT WOULD GO SOMETHING LIKE THIS. IN REALITY, IT WENT A BIT DIFFERENTLY

Now, if you’re thinking Kant has an theory on this you’re absolutely correct.

Or you’ve read Kant.

CAUTION: KANTIAN PHILOSOPHY AHEAD

Kant tells us that people should be held accountable for what they do and when necessary, the appropriate punishments be given. According to Kant, philosophically correct punishment necessarily requires that: 1) people be punished for the fact that they have committed a crime, and 2) punishments must be proportional to the crime – small punishments for small crimes and big punishments for big crimes.

But then, we already know that.

Of course we believe that people should be punished for committing a crime. And we also believe that heinous crimes deserve stiff (and swift) punishment. But what kind of punishment are we talking about? Do some people who commit a particular kind crime have a particular kind of punishment coming to them?

A punishment like, say, death?

Sure, we sympathize with Mari Collingwood’s parents, but is demanding an eye for an eye the philosophically correct thing to do?

krug's death

Opponents of the death penalty often claim that death as a method of punishment isn’t justice but an act of revenge. Sir Francis Bacon wrote that revenge is a “kind of wild justice” that puts man “even with his enemy” and has more to do with rage than justice.

gandhi quote

On the other hand, supporters of the death penalty argue that justice has nothing to do with revenge or retaliation and to execute someone for a crime such as murder is not an act of vengeance; it is merely returning a harm for a harm. The death penalty is just retribution.

IF WE BELIEVE THAT THE DEATH PENALTY IS MORALLY IMPERMISSIBLE, IS IT OKAY TO BITE OFF A MAN’S PENIS INSTEAD? JUST SAYIN'

IF WE BELIEVE THAT THE DEATH PENALTY IS MORALLY IMPERMISSIBLE, IS IT OKAY TO BITE OFF A MAN’S PENIS INSTEAD?
JUST SAYIN’

Ok, semantics alert: I realize that the words “revenge” and “retribution” are synonyms.
However, when we speak of getting “revenge”, we’re usually referring to the image of a vigilante, the lone gunman who exacts revenge without regard for the legality of their actions. We think of characters like Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Jodie Foster in The Brave One, Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, Alex and Ricky’s “victims” in House On the Edge of the Park, or in movies like The Crow, Kill Bill vol. 1 and Vol.2, and so on.

and so on

In the eyes of many people

GET IT? I’M TALKING ABOUT AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND I WROTE “IN THE EYES OF MANY PEOPLE?”

GET IT? I’M TALKING ABOUT AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND I WROTE “IN THE EYES OF MANY PEOPLE?”

The death penalty isn’t revenge.

It’s justice.

And according to Kant, justice is all about retribution.

KANT’S REACTION TO PEOPLE WHO THINK THE DEATH PENALTY IS MORALLY IMPERMISSIBLE

KANT’S REACTION TO PEOPLE WHO THINK THE DEATH PENALTY IS MORALLY IMPERMISSIBLE

Immanuel Kant tells us that justice should be retributive, that is, if you commit a crime, you get what’s coming to you; what you deserve. Kant’s system of justice is a lot like the maxim of the Roman legal system that for each person the constant and perpetual will to render to each what is his due.

However, Kant also states that punishment must be proportional to the crime committed – if a person commits a minor offense, the punishment ought to be minor and if a person commits a major offense, the punishment ought to fit a major offense. Krug and his comrades kidnapped, terrorized, raped, and murdered two people. According to Kant, it is reasonable, if not morally permissible, to put murderers like Krug Stillo to death.*

Kant states:

But whoever has committed murder, must die. There is, in this case, no judicial substitute or surrogate, that can be given or taken for the satisfaction of justice. There is no likeness or proposition between life, however painful, and death, and therefore there is no equality between the crime of murder and the retaliation of it but what is judicially accomplished by the execution of the criminal…

Kant adds:

A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is simply immoral.

ACCORDING TO KANT, SLICING A MAN LIMB FROM LIMB WITH A CHAINSAW MAY BE A PERFECTLY REASONABLE METHOD OF ADMINISTERING THE DEATH PENALTY

ACCORDING TO KANT, SLICING A MAN LIMB FROM LIMB WITH A CHAINSAW MAY BE A PERFECTLY REASONABLE METHOD OF ADMINISTERING THE DEATH PENALTY

We can make a compelling moral argument that Kant would not have objected to putting Krug and his fellow murderers to death. However, doing so is not without problems.


Mari Collingwood’s parents messed up.

Although the brutality of Mari’s and Phyllis’ deaths is matched by the brutality with which their murderers are killed, we can still argue that the Collingwood’s revenge retribution is not justice.

Mari’s parents should have allowed the authorities deal with Krug and his gang. We create laws to deal with those who commit violent acts against others. The courts decide what is the proper punishment for a particular crime and impose the death penalty if the criminal is deemed worthy of death. Mari’s parents didn’t just kill Krug and his gang, they devised a plan to inflict pain and suffering on the trio before killing them. Kant stipulates that the criminal’s death “must be kept free from all maltreatment”. It’s not irrational to believe that rigging a doorknob to electrocute whoever grabs it or killing a man with a chainsaw or biting off a man’s penis constitutes “maltreatment”.

Mari’s parents were also guilty of violating the First Formulation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative. (it’s much too time consuming to go into Kant’s Categorical Imperative here but check out this Wikipedia article on the Categorical Imperative: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative)

kant's c.i. 2

So… by the end of The Last House On the Left, although Mari Collingwood’s parents have their pound of flesh. They’ve killed the people who killed their daughter. But what do they get in return? Does their retribution bring them justice? The answer may be no, it doesn’t.

Mari’s and Phyllis’ killers are dead. But so are Mari and Phyllis. They’ve had their revenge but it is a hollow victory. Executing the murderers doesn’t change what’s already been done. It is only the Collingwoods who are changed by what they’ve done. Their daughter is dead. Their lives are ruined.

And their acts of brutality have only turned them into the same kind of beasts that killed their daughter.
* there’s an obvious glitch in the matrix, if you will, namely, that it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the wrong person may be put to death for a crime that they did not commit. And that is (obviously) morally impermissible – according to any moral theory.

Sources:

http://acad.depauw.edu/~jeremyanderson/old/120s05/120z_kant.html

Chess, Death, Kid N’ Play and the Essence of the Ultimate Pajama Jam

I was listening to the radio awhile ago.

That admission immediately tells how old I am.

I know that these days when someone says that they were “listening to the radio” that they were probably listening to music on the internet. It’s kind of like how some people say that they listen to “albums”.

I still say album.

I still listen to cassettes.

And I was listening to an actual radio.

The old hi-fi.

 

family-listening-radio-home-vintage-photo-01

 

I know that the current technology is supposed to be all that, but there’s at least one good thing about being an old fuddy duddy still hooked on listening to 20th century technology. Namely, listening to a radio allows one to channel surf.

And while channel surfing, one occasionally tunes into something interesting.

And by “interesting” I mean something that allows a person to write about philosophical stuff.

I was listening to a radio show called “The Pocho Hour of Power”. It airs locally in Los Angeles. On Fridays at 4 P.M. On KPFK. An affiliate of the Pacifica Network.    pocho hour of power

 

That’s a Liberal radio station.

 

 

Wait. I think I’m supposed to say it’s Progressive.

Anyway, I don’t remember what exactly led to what, but I remember one of the hosts of the show said something about existentialist cinema. He made a joke about the movies The Seventh Seal and House Party. His joke was that one of the films is deep and packed with existential significance. The other (obviously) is not.

 

I’ll let you guess which one is which.

 

 

th (13)

 

house-party

 

 

 

Figure it out yet?

 

For the host of the show, even slightly suggesting that a movie like House Party can in any way be as existential as a Bergman film is as laughable as the punch line of a joke. At first glance, the host is right. House Party is a thematically shallow movie.* Based on the film’s ostensible meaning, it would be absurd to suggest that the movie is anything more than an urban teenage comedy about a couple of buddies who throw the ultimate house party. But here’s a secret: movies, like books, TV shows, and songs, often have more than one meaning. There’s what a movie is supposed to be about – but then there’s what a movie is really about.

Want to take a guess at what House Party is really about?

That’s right. You guessed it.

Existentialism.

 

claire on existentialism

 

At first glance (or as the philosophers say, prime facie), Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal is just an old, overly-long movie about a knight who does some stuff, plays chess with death (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Observer from Mystery Science Theater 3000), rides across the Swedish (are they in Sweden?) countryside, and chats it up with some weird lady who is condemned to be burned at the stake.

 

 

If you watch the film on a purely surface level you wouldn’t get much out of it.

Other than annoyance with another foreign black and white movie with subtitles.

And the Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey reference.

And that that’s the old dude from The Exorcist.

Now THAT’S a good movie.

 

max von sydow

THIS DUDE SHOULD LOOK FAMILIAR

 

If you watch The Seventh Seal without really paying attention to the movie, you would miss the film’s philosophical significance.

Philosophical themes/significance in The Seventh Seal include (but not limited to):

  • Reason for man’s suffering.
  • God’s existence.
  • Struggle with religious faith.
  • Identity (as relates to our place in the world).
  • The nature of being (including our place in the world).

There’s another movie that covers some of those philosophical themes, too.

1… 2… 3… Say it all together…

Right!

That movie is House Party.

 

 

 

On the surface, House Party (written and directed by the Hudlin Brothers) isn’t what anyone would call a “deep” movie. The movie’s seemingly simplistic plot goes a little like this: we follow a night in the (mis)adventures of a pair of inner-city high school chums (played by early ‘90s rap duo Kid N’ Play) and their chronic halitosis-besieged buddy (played by Martin Lawrence) as they evade cops, bullies, and Kid’s belt-wielding father (played by the late Robin Harris) to attend the ultimate house party.

 

Not to get off track, but is it just me or did the guys in Full Force look like they were about 40 years old?

 

Don’t get me wrong. I could plausibly suspend my disbelief watching Full Force as high school students in House Party. At least they weren’t as unconvincing as Vic Morrow as a delinquent “teen” in The Blackboard Jungle. Or the obviously-past-thirty-year old Stockard Channing as high school student Betty Rizzo in Grease.

NOT FOOLING ANYBODY

NOT FOOLING ANYBODY

 

And while we’re on the Grease tip, throw in Lorna Luft, Christopher MacDonald, and Adrian Zmed in Grease 2.

 

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

 

When House Party was released in 1990, moviegoers and critics immediately spotted the movie’s themes of race, class, gender relations (in particular, in the African-American community), and how the film bucked against the typical depiction of hypersexuality among teenaged characters in most teen-oriented comedies.

That already kind of proves that there’s more going on in this movie than meets the eye.

 

Now, we can spend our time, like the movie critics did back in ’90, discussing the social and cultural relevance/significance of House Party. And certainly there is plenty there to discuss, even after more than 20 years since the movie’s release.

Or, we can look even deeper and discuss the movie philosophically.

Perhaps existentially.

 

Let’s do it then, shall we?

 

 

In the movie House Party, Kid, played by Christopher “Kid” Reid, is a somewhat nerdy high school student, plagued by bullying classmates and stifled by an over-protective father. Kid is a character at a crossroads. He’s a character on the verge of manhood struggling to find his own identity.

Kid is being pressured by many influences: he wants to be a dutiful son to his widowed father, yet he feels the pressure as a young male at the edge of adulthood, to conform to the expectations of his peers – in particular, the pressure exerted by his best friend, Play (played by Christopher Martin) who urges Kid to attend a house party in hopes of “hooking up” with the object of Kid’s affection, a fellow student named Sydney, portrayed by Tisha Campbell.

 

 

GINAAAAAAAA!

GINAAAAAAAA!

 

Kid’s attempt to stand up like a man ends in a brutal lunchtime beating. His attempt at independence lands him in trouble with the police. His attempt at being a teenage Lothario ends in humiliation.

 

THIS ATTEMPT AT A STYLISH HAIRDOO IS MORE LIKE A HAIR DON’T.

THIS ATTEMPT AT A STYLISH HAIRDOO IS MORE LIKE A HAIR DON’T.

 

But despite the competing influences and occasional humiliation, Kid wants to determine his own life path.

Determining the path that one’s own life takes is the principle at the heart of existentialism.

Existentialism is the:

school of philosophical thought associated with Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Nietzsche. Existentialism emphasizes the importance of free will, personal responsibility, and how our experiences and choices forms what we become – what we make of ourselves.

Of course, bearing all the responsibility of who we become presents us (or any movie character) with a dilemma. To wit: how do we decide what we become? How do we determine what makes our lives meaningful? The French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) stated that the main message of existentialism is

… to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.

 

 

THIS IS JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

THIS IS JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

 

For those of you who are well-versed in Sartre quotes, you’ll know that Jean-Paul Sartre famously said “existence precedes essence”.

According to Sartre, we are born without an innate nature. No one is a “natural born” sinner or saint. Or even naturally masculine or feminine. What we are and who we become (our “essence”) is a construct; it is not determined by a priori factors (God, society, biology, destiny, family, etc.) but by our own choices. We must make our own essence. In the absence of external influences, Sartre says, we are nothing more than the products of our own creation.

 

That means we are free to be whatever or whoever we want to be.

This can be a problem.

 

problems

 

 

This is the problem:

Sartre’s “existence precedes essence” says we are free to create our own identity. We are not, as Freud declares, bound by our biology. Sounds good so far. After all, who doesn’t like freedom? But, the freedom to create one’s own essence means that we and we alone, bear all of the responsibility of figuring out who we are and making our lives meaningful.

 

DESPITE HIS MOTHER’S AND SOCIETY’S INFLUENCE, THE CHILD WILLL NOT GROW TO BECOME A JUGGALO BUT CHOOSE TO BE A NICKLEBACK FAN.

DESPITE HIS MOTHER’S AND SOCIETY’S INFLUENCE, THE CHILD WILLL NOT GROW TO BECOME A JUGGALO BUT CHOOSE TO BE A NICKLEBACK FAN.

 

According to Sartre, freedom is a double-edged sword: we are free be whoever we want to become, but we are also free to be whoever we want to become. When we have absolute responsibility for determining who we are, the freedom to choose is as liberating as it is problematic and confusing. Which path of life should we take? How do we figure out which path will make our lives most meaningful? And we can’t blame our bad choices on God or our biology. We almost we have too much freedom to choose. We have no other choice but to be free. This is why Sartre says “man is condemned to be free”. Sartre writes:

 

… man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet, in other respects is free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

Sartre also says:

 

He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate; to marry, to give up the game, to drag this death weight about him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no on had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good or Evil unless he brought them into being.

 

To make matters worse, Sartre says man cannot fully exist if he fails to create his own essence.

 

TIM GUNN JUST REALIZED ONLY HE CAN CREATE HIS OWN ESSENCE

TIM GUNN JUST REALIZED ONLY HE CAN CREATE HIS OWN ESSENCE

 

I figure at this point, you’re probably thinking that I’ve completely forgotten that this blog post is supposed to have something to do with the movie House Party. You’re probably wondering what the H-E-double hockey sticks does existentialist French philosophy have to do with early ‘90s urban comedy.

To the point: how exactly is House Party a modern existentialist masterpiece?

This is how:

At the outset of the film, Kid is subject to the kind of external forces that Sartre describes: his father, his friends, the pressure to act like a typical urban male. Kid seems to want to give into the pressure – it would be easier to simply follow along and be exactly what his family, friends, and society expects him to be. But he can’t. Kid must determine his own life path.

 

Kid chooses to live on his own terms in defiance of others’ expectations. Although his father warns against attending the house party, Kid chooses to go to the party despite his father’s threats. During a moment of intimacy with Sydney, Kid chooses not to have sex with Sydney, favoring instead to first develop a friendship with her. Kid is not the culturally stereotypical thug the police believe that he is. The path isn’t his father’s or his friends, but his own. And as a consequence, Kid finds his authentic self – who he truly is – not the person his friends, his father, or school lunchroom bullies want him to be. Kid does what he wants to do what he wants to do, and when he does he realizes the potential consequences.

 

 

HE WAS EITHER GOING TO FIND GOD... OR EXISTENTIALISM

HE WAS EITHER GOING TO FIND GOD… OR EXISTENTIALISM

 

Thus, House Party is really about how to lead an existentially authentic life.

So, when Kid’s father beats his ass with a belt for defying his orders, the punishment is all Kid’s fault.

We assume that he assumes full responsibility.

 

 

 

Ok. I know. You’re not entirely convinced of what I’m telling you. I understand. House Party is not the greatest movie. It’s not even a great movie. But just think about what I’ve told you. Watch the movie again. You might want to have some Sartre handy. It might not have the pedigree of a Bergman film, but trust me, House Party is a film about something.

However, I can’t say the same about Class Act.

 

I have no idea why or what that flick is about.

 

 

 
*NOTE: you many have noticed, when referring to The Seventh Seal and House Party, that I refer to The Seventh Seal as a “film” and to House Party as a “movie”. This choice of words is completely intentional. There are those who use the word “film” when making reference to “quality” cinema – i.e., cinema with social, cultural, and/or philosophical significance. “Movies”, on the other hand, may or may not include significant philosophical themes. In addition, movies, unlike films, are often intended primarily for entertainment purposes.
I might add that referring to a motion picture as a “flick” denotes that the movie has very little to no (obvious) philosophical value and is made strictly for entertainment purposes (e.g. exploitation flicks, drive-in flicks, and pornography).

 

 

SOURCES:

1) Jean-Paul Sartre. “Existentialism”. 1980. The Norton Reader. 5th Edition (shorter). Eds. Arthur M. Eastman, Caesar R. Blake, Hubert M. English, Jr., Joan E. Hartman, Alan B. Howes, Robert T. Lenaghan, Leo F. McNamara, James Rossier. NY: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 659, 662

2) https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/existentialism

Don’t think too hard, you’ll miss the big reveal

Sometimes philosophers frustrate me. Especially when it comes to movies.

Philosophers are only supposed to watch philosophically approved movies made by philosophically approved filmmakers.

Go ahead. Ask a philosopher who his favorite film director is. No, wait. You don’t need to ask. I’ll tell you right now. It’s Woody Allen.

If you ask any philosopher, his favorite film director is Woody Allen. He’s required by law to tell you that Woody Allen is his favorite film director and his favorite movie is Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Swear on a stack of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling this is true.

Even if the philosopher hates Woody Allen’s movies he has to tell you he’s a Woody Allen fan.

It’s either Woody Allen or they take away his philosophy degree and he‘ll be dismissed from the ranks of professionally certified thinkers.

And that’s worse than being a logical positivist.

You see, if you’re a philosopher, you’re preference in cinema is supposed to be all highbrow. A philosopher is allowed only to watch movies that make you think. I’d like to watch That’s My Boy or Step Up Revolution. But I can’t. I am a philosopher.

Only the highbrow stuff.

But I’m saying this right now:

I’m not a fan of Woody Allen.

And I didn’t like Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.

 

This is the game with Death I'm supposed to like

This is the game with Death I’m supposed to like

 

 

This is the game with Death I actually like

This is the game with Death I actually like

I’ll admit: I like silly movies. I like stupid movies. I like the kind of movies philosophers would walk right out of the movie theater and declare them positively un-philosophic.

I’m not going to call any of these philosophers foolish, but they’re really missing out.

The truth is every movie is philosophical. A movie doesn’t need to be written by Jim Jarmusch or directed by the Coen brothers to be about something. If a character tells another character what he believes, we can talk about that character’s epistemological point of view. If at least one character in a movie is or claims to be God, or the main character is a woman who abandons her stale job and husband to screw other men  find herself,  then the movie we’re watching deals in metaphysics. And if, in any movie, any character does anything, we’re likely to find some kind of ethical dilemma or two.

So, if your movie tastes don’t lean towards Truffaut or you can’t bear to sit through Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Lord knows I can’t), don’t feel bad. Anything you’re watching is philosophical enough to get your mind thinking about philosophy stuff.

Trust me; once you start looking for philosophy in movies you won’t be able to stop.

You’ll find it, I swear.

And you’ll like it.

Unless you’re watching The Matrix. Then you’ll wish some filmmakers had never opened a philosophy book.