Sunday, December 27, 1998
By Ervell E. Menezes
THAT marketing is a major aspect of Hollywood is evident in many of its releases. One has only to see the number of TV serials that have been converted into films to realise this. There was The Adams Family (1991), The Fugitive (1993), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Maverick (1994), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and Mission:Impossible (1996). Now it is The X Files.
But the major thing about The X Files is that it is the first big hit of the Internet age, a show about obsessive loners for obsessive loners precisely the kind of people whod rather sit at home and watch TV than go to the movies. Now, the makers of the film are catering to whom?
Is it a whole new film-going audience? Or is it a little of both, that is the old TV The X Files fans as well as the new market of movie-goers. Then theres the trouble of things being to simplistic for the "X-philes". Well, its a problem of their own creation. But the flip side for the producers is that it adds to the audience of The X Files.
Isnt David Duchovny a big name today precisely because of the TV serial? Yes Fox Mulder (Duchovny and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are FBI agents who work as a team. They have their differences but they sort of need each other and no prizes for guessing but they are also in love with each other, or so they think.
In The X Files agents Mulder and Scully are drawn into a web of intrigue while investigating the mysterious bombing of a Dallas office building and the secrets buried inside. Set against the dynamic backdrops of Washington DC, the dusty fields of northern Texas, private meetings in London and the frigid reaches of Antarctica, the film is meant to popularise the already popular TV personalities. Apart from Mulder and Scully theres Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), a writer whose favourite subject is Doomsday, and Strughold (Armin Mueller-Stahl), whose undercover activity is so essential to the plot.
There are three starting introductory scenes. The first sequence reveals a ferocious creature killing a caveman. The second shows a boy falling into a pit, being attacked and infected by a sort of black goo that gets under his skin and darkens his eyes. This new extra-terrestrial biological entity (remember the film The Entity two decades ago?) is the focal point of the film. The third and most elaborate scene deals with the discovery of a bomb at the FBI building in Dallas. Despite the efforts of special agents Mulder and Scully, the blast occurs.
Not being a TV serial buff, The X Files is new to me. It begins promisingly with a hint of some foreign power in action, but around the halfway mark the interest flags. The reason for some dramatic happenings are not duly explained and credibility suffers. Then things get too far-fetched. There may be a few good twists but surely not enough to keep the viewer engrossed; the result is, it creates a lukewarm effect. Youre neither here nor there and then the thing you miss most is that you are not alone and in the night, but you are in a theatre with hundreds of others. You are no longer an obsessive loner for whom the story was first written for.
I saw Pulp Fiction again but the delay in releasing it (after four years) must have adversely affected it. No, I dont condone the spurts of violence. They tend to get too graphic these days. But the structure is brilliant. There is no conventional beginning, middle and end. Rather, it begins somewhere near the end and ends somewhere in the middle. Which means that after the end (not chronological) you are still a bit confused about the story and that I think is its biggest selling point.
In three intertwining slice-of-life narratives, director-scriptwriter Quentin Tarentino introduces us to a pair of thick-witted hit-men, a double-crossing prize-fighter on the run, his absent-minded French girlfriend, his hit-men hiring boss, his exotic but drug-addicted wife, and two young lovers contemplating a career namely, whether to start holding up restaurants instead of liquor stores.
What Tarentino wanted to
do as separate episodes he thought of combining into one
narrative. It gave him the opportunity to play with his
characters and have them move from one story to another.
The main characters of one story would go to be a
supporting character in the next. And what a way he does
it! He makes nonsense of time in the conventional manner.
The cast is made up of 12 principals and a handful of
cameos but you weave in and out of them as in a maze. As
for star power, theres Travolta, Willis, Samuel L.
Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Kietel, Tim Roth and Amanda
Plummer. Why theres even Tarentino himself as the
high-strung Jimmy. It certainly is a path-breaker.
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