Exploring the Art of Transcendence with Films!
Have you ever watched something that felt so real, a scene that somehow seemed to engulf you wholly, transporting you from wherever you were sat watching it, and brought you right there, to that exact moment? Have you felt as though you could feel all the emotion, chills, pain, or even fatigue, yourself? I definitely have, and these three films are what struck me like lightening striking a tree: Atomic Blonde¸ Blade Runner 2049, and The Shallows. The Oxford Dictionary describes the word “transcend” as to “be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract, typically a conceptual field or division)”, and specific scenes in these three films do exactly that. So, my blog and I are here to highlight these key moments of transcendence, and hope you feel all the chills and all the pain – and I mean this in the nicest and most amazing way possible, of course!
Let me first introduce you to Atomic Blonde, a definite favourite of mine as this film takes the words “raw” and “real” to the utmost measurable level of such words. A 2017 espionage/action film set during the Cold War, based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Antony Johnston, and starring the undeniably talented Charlize Theron as its protagonist, the fight scenes in this film are no joke. Brutal, gritty, extensive, raw and real beyond belief, are the adjectives I would use to portray them. And although there are many fight scenes in this action/thriller, the scene that transcends is a little more than half way through the film, when our protagonist Lorraine is trying to transport a “package”, across the Berlin Wall during a protest demonstration in Alexanderplatz, East Berlin. A scene that pays no regard to sexism – as it shouldn’t – you witness the protagonist getting beaten to a pulp while fighting off many armed men trying to steal her package. But, as much as she is taking numerous blows, she reciprocates them just as well, if not better! Now what separates this scene in Atomic Blonde from other films particularly, are the shots and camera angles. There isn't a lot of switching between angles, and the camera follows the action instead – as people get thrown around, pushed over ledges, fall down stairs, bullets flying, and blood splatter everywhere – this tactic truly makes you feel as though you're in that building, watching the madness unfold right before your eyes. This, is what transcends the most in Atomic Blonde. An extensive fight scene done so well, that you actually feel all the pain and exhaustion the characters are enduring. Every time Lorraine got thrown down the stairs, into a wall, or punched in the face; every time she musters up the strength to get back up, to smash the butt of her gun into someone’s head, or to kneecap her opponent, I can honestly say it feels like you're doing all this fighting – and it feels amazing as much as it feels completely exhausting!
Next on the list we have, Blade Runner 2049. Another favourite of mine, and a remake of the 1982 Blade Runner that actually wasn’t a total waste of money and time like most remakes are these days! This 2017 sci-fi/thriller starring one of Canada’s most cherished “Ryan’s”, Ryan Gosling, and cast member of the original film, Harrison Ford, is set in a dystopian Los Angeles in the year 2049 and is as action-packed as it is eerily twisted. The scene which transcends is toward the end of the film, where our protagonist and Blade Runner, “Officer K” (portrayed by Ryan Gosling) is fighting the Replicant, “Luv”, to the death. Outside the massive concrete city walls, and with intense waves constantly crashing on what was once most likely beaches before humanity ruined the Earth and all its ecosystems, both protagonist and antagonist are fighting and drowning with such intensity it literally gives you goosebumps. I’ve always thought drowning would be the absolute worst way to die as asphyxiation is a slow death, but coupled with your lungs filling with water as you feel yourself having no choice but to try and “gasp for air”, is a feeling too horrendous to even imagine. That is, until I watched this scene in Blade Runner 2049 and I all of a sudden knew what it felt like to drown to death, even if I was no where near water. As character “X” (to avoid spoilers) is held underwater for longer and longer, and as they begin their slow decline by eventually swallowing water, the camera almost never leaves their face. Every realization of eventual death that comes across character X’s face, every struggle to release the hand around their neck choking and keeping them underwater, the anger in the eyes of the one drowning as they still refuse to lose this fight, is all right in your face. And on the other side, the visible strength used and energy drained from the one committing the eventual homicide, the thrashing of water and of course, the score hitting you right in the stomach, are all the factors that make this scene transcend right through the screen and make you feel like you're drowning to your death – and it’s a horrible and immensely overwhelming sensation that you’ll never forget, in both a good and bad way!
Last but certainly not least, we have The Shallows. A 2016 thriller shark film starring Blake Lively as the protagonist – and pretty much only character in the film (yes, it’s one of those ones) – who gets caught surfing alone at a secret beach in Mexico, when a massive shark comes toward the shore. A medical student and surfer, protagonist Nancy eventually suffers a serious leg wound from a shark bite and must try and save her leg and close the open wound, if she ever wants to escape. It’s this scene right here where the transcendence takes place, as she tries to suture the massive gash on her thigh using her necklace and earrings! The absolute agony, anxiety and pressure that begins to consume Nancy, her facial expressions and her cries, pierce right through your skin and cuts you deep as if you’re the one sat on a massive rock in the ocean, trying to stitch your leg back together with jewellery, as a shark circles and waits to rip you limb from limb. To add to that, we’re also confronted with an incredibly detailed and gruesome scene showcasing her using her earrings like safety pins, to close the gash and pull her skin somewhat back together – leaving you feeling sick to your stomach, in pain and incredibly anxious . The exact same feelings the protagonist is currently overcome by while you're watching, the scene. And as horrific and grotesque as this all may sound, trust me when I say it’s a worthy scene to witness and experience, as Blake honestly does such a phenomenal job. So if you've not yet seen The Shallows, Atomic Blonde or Blade Runner 2049, buckle up the courage and get ready to see what it's like to experience these game changing moments yourself!
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