The Fury ★★★★

Film is seen through sight. Images translate to our brains through our eyes into materiality – what is the becomes that, evidence of something that was in a place in time. But it is only an illusion that our eyes deceive. "Let that screen fill your mind," we are told. And yet, we cannot touch. We can desire to touch—out of lust, anger, fear, or love—but to touch is to destroy the screen.

Perhaps more than Blow-Out, De Palma's The Fury addresses our relationship to cinema, except through the most insane, backwards way possible: a conspiracy thriller with a psychological horror fantasy bent. But every moment in this film is either one of sight or touch. Sight is what allows Kirk Douglas to sneak through the foggy construction set. Sight is what pushes Gillian to see inside the petty high school girl and expose her deepest anxieties…as well as the child inside her. Sight leaves a traumatic scar in Robin that channels his power (amplified again and again through the power of re-watching). “They’re always watching,” Douglas tells his girlfriend, and so are we.

Touch only destroys. Touch causes blood to rush from the bodies of others, or sparks memories of the past that are best left un-remembered. When two characters finally touch, grasping for each other, the result is only tragic. But when touch is dead in an arm, sight still causes the mind to feel pain. But we live in a society where tactility is no longer necessary to harm – you can see and listen from thousands of miles away, kill with a click of a button – and like Robin says, “I didn't have to touch you to hurt you.” The Fury is utter nonsense on its surface, a strange pastiche of genres and often tonally out of balance, even when that discrepancy is amusing (the old grandmother helping out Douglas is a hoot). But it’s so aesthetically strong, so ingrained in its vision of the beauty and danger of cinema and our ability to view sight as a liberating force in contrast to physical bodies, that one must contend with the beauty of the work. It’s often comic stuff, but it also employs our ability to laugh as a liberating device.

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