Sin City: Goodness and Sin – Of the filmmakers
Posted by Ronak M Soni on October 25, 2009
Every day, we go out into life and see the same things, or the same type of things. Every once in a while, however, some of these stand out; they have colour none of the others have, because we’ve seen the others too many times to see their colours, their details, their specifics. This philosophy, I think, drives the colouring of Sin City, based on a comic book series by Frank Miller and directed by him and Robert Rodriguez, which is mostly in black-and-white but has colours – mainly red, blue and yellow – for things like blond hair, red women’s dresses, Clive Owen’s boots and all cars’ taillights. One can never be sure, however, because, after all, it’s a graphic novel movie, and these graphic novels are over-themed beings of awesomely gargantuan complexity.
The movie has four stories; one involves Josh Hartnett as a hitman of some sort, one Bruce Willis as a 60-year-old cop with a heart problem who’s trying to save a little girl from rape and murder, one Mickey Rourke as a big ugly hunk of a man who’s trying to take revenge for the death of the only woman who has ever slept with him and one with Clive Owen as a come-back hitman trying to save Oldtown, the home of the whores of the meticulously named Basin City. These four stories cross paths, with not one story not having a character of another at some point. But, what really connects them is a context, a setting, of the underworld of Basin City and a lifestyle, a glee, almost, at action that lights up their lives. And it is this glee that I think the movie is trying to examine.
Of course, I’m wrong. The movie is all-out artified porn (remember the last Frank Miller graphic novel that made it to movie form? 300. This is true even though Robert Rodriguez is significantly better than Zack Snyder). No, seriously, it is, even if you want to say that pornography is merely in the eyes of the beholder. It is very much porn, toned down little by the lack of colour of some of the blood: observe, for example, the number of times I went evil-laughing at a great description of true gruesomity. Then again, is it wrong for a movie to be pornographic? I don’t think so. If the cast is there of its own free will, I think it’s allowed to be porn. In fact, I’m very much tempted to say that porn is the form it takes to communicate this thrill to us. Perfectly plausible, but wouldn’t explain all the cringing I did; it’s too well-made a movie to allow me to cringe if I wasn’t supposed to.
Okay, even I’m not completely convinced by my arguments in the last paragraph. The reason: there is no right argument. As I’ve already said, this is graphic novel movie. It is porn, yes, but porn is also an instrument for a study of the uses of morality in an amoral setting and of the glee these characters feel. And anything you say it is, I’d have to quote Clive Owen’s character:”always and never”. But, whatever else it may be, it is a brilliantly directed and acted movie that is a must-watch for all who have a not-too-weak stomach.