Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why The Fourth Kind left me feeling sad

I was recently lied to by someone that I care for.

I'm not an entertainment blogger, by any means.  I don't keep up on movies or TV, and have a hard time watching anything that annoys me even a little bit.  Not only that, my opinion of what's good, as far as media is concerned, often varies wildly from what I hear other people say is good.  I really enjoyed The Last Airbender, for instance.  All of this is fine with me.  I waste enough of my time without wasting it trying to keep up on the new releases.

With this in mind, you'll forgive the tardiness of my post.  I understand that The Fourth Kind was released on DVD some months ago.  I've seen movie posters, and thought, "Oh, some alien movie."  Then my significant other bought it for me, a few days ago, and I was a little more intrigued.  This is supposed to be like a documentary.  I enjoy watching documentaries about the paranormal the same way I enjoy watching stage magic, trying to figure out exactly where I might be getting misled.

So, at night, in a dark room, by myself, I watch it.  The first scene is Milla Jovovoich, as herself, basically emphasizing that what I'm about to see is real, and here's the real archival footage, and all that.  I know how it works, I've watched documentaries before.

The movie is pretty creepy, and the footage (which runs alongside dramatizations of the footage) is pretty remarkable.  However, I have to mention something.  When you're watching youtube, and you sometimes make the realization, "That's what it really looks like when someone falls down the stairs!" or " That's what it really looks like when someone drives a truck into a living room!" we can feel that what we're looking at is what actually happened.  There's a certain quality that real footage has that movie scenes do not.  A bit of randomness, a lack of grace, unflattering camera angles.  It's the flavor of reality.  The archival footage on The Fourth Kind did have a bit of this flavor, but it was not strong.

The movie ends with Milla talking as herself again, urging me to make my own decision about what to believe.  Of course, I immediately jumped on the internet to help me decide.  It turns out that the fakeness of the footage is old news.  I'm not one to take any debunker's statements without questioning them, but everything I read made sense, Google Maps showed me that the real town looks very very different that the town in the "archival footage."  In short, it was a movie.

I think one of the reasons I'm a skeptic is to balance out my natural naivity.  Naivity that would have me think that a documentary is a documentary, and that a movie would not go so far out of its way to convince me that it is real, when everyone involved knows that it is not.  I guess my belief was that if a documentary comes out that is not factual, it is because the creators are actually fooling themselves, not because they are trying to fool the audience.  My thinking was incorrect.

But I think the thing that hurts most is that Milla Jovovich, whose career I've watched blossom since I was fifteen years old, would break through the fourth wall, go out of her way to talk to me as herself, and then lie to my face (or a camera that represents my face, at least).  This is not what I would expect out of the loveable Leeloo in her masking tape outfit.  This is not what I would hope for from the dangerous (but honest?) Alice, firing guns with both of her hands.  This is not alright.

Should you watch the movie, if you haven't already?  I can't tell you.  I'm not a movie critic, and I don't like movie critics.  If you really want to watch a documentary, though, I'd say check out The Cove, or Outfoxed, or The King of Kong.  Good ones, and they don't need a beautiful woman to convince you that they're real.  But I'm pretty sure they are.

1 comment:

  1. Remember when The Bridges of Madison County came out and every female in the country who was over 30 went looking for the photographer from National Geographic?

    The first line in the book said "This is a true story..." But as the author pointed out in an interview I heard, he didn't think he had mislead anyone. This was a novel, cataloged as a work of fiction.