Monday, 10 October 2011

Unit 1 Anatomy - Review - Vincenzo Natali's Splice (2010)



Figure 1. Spice Poster Art

A surreal film based on the Freudian interpretation of adolescence namely the Oedipus Complex. The central characters Clive Nicoli & Elsa Kast stumble from one bad situation to another adding an eighth sin to the already deadly seven. “Curiosity” - killed the cat, which normally would be used as a pun of sorts, except of course when you decide to play god, splice un-tested genes with human DNA & award your new pet with his/her own pet... and to think it started with the best of intentions.

•Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
•Written by: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant & DougTaylor
•Cast: Adrien Brody as Clive Nicoli, Sarah Polley as Elsa Kast, Delphine Chaneac as Dren, Brandon McGibbon as Gavin Nicoli, Simona Maicanescu as Joan Chorot & David Hewlett as William Barlow.
•Genre: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
•Duration: 104 Minutes (aprox)




Figure 2. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Splice” is the birth & fruition to the genetic level “Frankenstein’s monster” with its premise set at the heart of child rearing. Clive Nicoli (played by Adrien Brody) & Elsa Kast (played by Sarah Polley) are two top genetic engineers hell bent on curing the incurable diseases of man, so much so that they decide to break the law, defy the nature of the world and create a hybrid human being/lab rat with wings. What typically starts out as a science experiment adapts into a parental pursuit with their hybrid daughter Dren (played by Delphine Chineac) as she goes through instantaneous evolutionary changes with some more unbelievable then others.

“As we observe the strange creature (nicknamed 'Dren') that emerges from their endeavours and mutates from a helpless baby to a rebellious, sexually curious teen and then into a wholly different kind of adult, we also bear witness to the unfolding of a bizarre tragedy, in which the many flaws and foibles of the 'parents' are passed on to the child, with nurture playing at least as big a role as nature”. (Bitel, 2009)
Morality plays an even bigger role then one could initially think as Clive & Elsa dart from one hair brained idea to the next making one question how they ever got to the pinnacle of their career. The only morally incompetent is the monster Dren functioning purely on instinct with no reservation toward anything, only her primal feeling at that particular moment on that particular day. One could argue that Dren’s eventual evil was inspired by the actions of Elsa (her mother), who from her history did not know how to be a mother herself, trying to force her will on an unwilling child.



Figure 3. “You can’t always get what you want, that’s part of growing up too”

Splice atypically follows Freudian Philosophy at an alarming rate to the plateau of surrealism, raising the bar as Dren’s changes progress through the stages of her sexual development from Oral to Genital and then into a completely different gender. One could argue that Natali’s lean into Drens eventual Gender transmorphism originated from the notion that all of man are initially born genderless but are later differentiated by their gene structure be they XY or XX chromosome.

At eight weeks most of the features of the adult are visible, when it is referred to as a fetus. During the first few weeks, it is neither male nor female. However, a small group of cells, called the "indifferent gonads" begin to form, that are capable of becoming ovaries or testicles. At the same time, other internal features of both sexes develop, the Mullerian (female) ducts and the Wolffian (male) ducts. (Bland, 1998)


Figure 4. “We crossed the line” – yeah you sure did...

To Summarize

The monster “Dren’s” eventual actions were defined by her upbringing; she was born an emotive clean slate with no reason to justify a good or bad persona. The actions of her parents became her influenced descent into evil by a mother who knew nothing about raising a child and a father who was emotionally subservient to his spouse. One could believe that this is why the male “Dren” thought he could kill his father believing he could establish dominance over a man who was weaker than his mother; in retrospect Freud’s interpretation (namely the Oedipus Complex) pertains the domineering thematic’s in this filmography.

In Freud's view, each stage focused on sexual activity and the pleasure received from a particular area of the body. In the oral phase, children are focused on the pleasures that they receive from sucking and biting with their mouth. In the Anal phase, this focus shifts to the anus as they begin toilet training and attempt to control their bowels. In the Phallic stage, the focus moves to genital stimulation and the sexual identification that comes with having or not having a penis. During this phase, Freud thought that children turn their interest and love toward their parent of the opposite sex and begin to strongly resent the parent of the same sex. He called this idea the Oedipus Complex as it closely mirrored the events of an ancient Greek tragic play in which a king named Oedipus manages to marry his mother and kill his father. The Phallic/Oedipus stage was thought to be followed by a period of Latency during which sexual urges and interest were temporarily nonexistent. Finally, children were thought to enter and remain in a final Genital stage in which adult sexual interests and activities come to dominate. (Oswalt, 2008)
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List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Spice Poster Art. (com) [Online image]. At:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_9udfncYtHlw/TAi7iehK4SI/AAAAAAAACLM/d-fmZOb4rH0/s1600/Poster.jpg (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

Figure 2. What’s the worst that could happen? (com) [Online image]. At:
http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/Splice-movie-image-41.jpg (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

Figure 3. You can’t always get what you want, that’s part of growing up too. (com) [Online image]. At:
http://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/39/2010/06/500x_splice_critical_mass.jpg (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

Figure 4. We crossed the line. (com) [Online image]. At:
http://static.moviefanatic.com/images/gallery/clive-and-elsa-in-the-woods_612x918.jpg (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

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Bibliography

Bitel, Anton. (2009) Film4 Splice Review At:
http://www.film4.com/reviews/2009/splice (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

Bland, Jed. (1998) Concept & Development of Gender At:
http://www.theaspectratio.net/theelephantman.htm (Accessed on: 11/10/11)

Oswalt, Angela. (2008) Sigmund Freud and Child Development At:
http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=7926&cn=28
(Accessed on: 11/10/11)

2 comments:

  1. "award your new pet with his/her own pet..."

    "One could argue that Natali’s lean into Drens eventual Gender transmorphism originated from the notion that all of man are initially born genderless but are later differentiated by their gene structure be they XY or XX chromosome."

    I found both these points really interesting. The first one sums up the whole cycle of parenting skills beautifully.

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  2. “As we observe the strange creature (nicknamed 'Dren') that emerges from their endeavours and mutates from a helpless baby to a rebellious, sexually curious teen and then into a wholly different kind of adult, we also bear witness to the unfolding of a bizarre tragedy, in which the many flaws and foibles of the 'parents' are passed on to the child, with nurture playing at least as big a role as nature”

    Killer quote - the nurture/nature debate expressed in terms of how our children 'go wrong'...

    A nicely ambitious, contextualised review, well done.

    ReplyDelete