Literary Discourse on “The Other” meets with contemporary horror cinema.
Yesterday I was watching Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, a very fascinating horror / psychological thriller starring Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, and Christopher Eccleston (yes, the doctor!)which deals with the story of an American family during the Post-WW2 period living in a mysterious darkened house in which Nicole Kidman’s character and her daughter perceive disturbing presences, which she calls “the intruders”. Jump to minute 1:11 to watch an example from a sequence of the movie (indeed, from the same channel you can watch the whole of it):
It is pretty obvious from the title to the entire film content itself that the largely discussed theme of “The Other” is evident. What is important to keep in mind is that even a movie starts as a written work. The question which pervades the work is What is Otherness? and Who are the others?
Amenábar’s insight on the topic is pretty original and devastating. I don’t wanna spoil anything, so I’ll try being a little discreet. Let me just say that when talking about “the other” it is necessary to also refer to a “we”, which excludes the other, and consequently giving it the connotation of outsider. In the film the used device is of course the horror movie structure, which includes the narrative frame of “we” -> “normal, natural creatures”, “them” -> “intruders, monstrous and supernatural creatures”. The extraordinary thing about it is that in the final part of the movie this starting statement is completely confused and then reversed.
I have talked in a previous post (“Are these monsters gonna kill me?” “Not as long as they think you’re a monster.”) about the narrative function of monsters, but in this case, the destabilizing end gives the “we” something to doubt: are “we” “The Others” in some way ourselves? Do we have something monstrous ourselves? What happens to us when we discover this?
I would like to tie this post with events which are happening around us right now in the world, as I think that the reason why it’s important to investigate literature and its various branches (in my case the darkest ones) as through them it is possible to elaborate better on the world around us. I’ve read lots of simplistic comments on various social media on terrorism. What’s my point with this? That I also think that what is going on in the world, and I do not only mean Paris, that what we call “Isis” from many regards is partly our creature, we are in part its Frankensteins. I think most of the times it is just too easy to claim to be a “we” and to create an “other”, when we are a mix of both, yes we are Others too.
Cheers, grim readers.