The Thing

The Thing ★★★★½

I just so happened to have recorded an HD version of The Thing on IFC this week, and watching Beyond the Black Rainbow made me want to stop that movie and start this one the entire time. As a kid I reveled in the extreme gore, while feeling cool for knowing that this was based on an old black and white movie (The Thing from Another World). I enjoyed knowing film history as a kid, most probably because it made me feel connected with the adults who remembered it from their past (specifically my father and grandparents).

First and foremost I admire John Carpenter for keeping the thing from outer space, but changing the focus of the story. Here the movie opens with something burning up as it enters our atmosphere, but that is the outer space focus is only briefly explored later when the ship is investigated. Instead the human condition of trust and the state of paranoia that Americans felt in 1982 are the central themes and focal points.

History repeats itself, and today we life in a world were anyone can be a terrorists just as back then anyone could be a communist. An interesting scene in Sherman's March involves men talking about the government possibly trying to take away their guns. This rhetoric is found in our news cycle today as well. The fear and suspicion of communist spies 30 years ago can now be found in the same emotions applied to suspected terrorists at airports. The real fear is in not knowing where the enemy is. Powerful enemies can be frightening, but an unknown enemy is terrifying.

When alone, when isolated, is when the human mind can create a fear or destructive behavior that is terrifying. I wrote of the scene in Flight when Whip Whitaker is alone in a hotel room, left to his own internal thoughts. This causes him to overlook rational thought (stay sober for an important hearing the next day) and plunge into destructive behavior (lose himself in alcohol to avoid the pain of his life, ironically escalating the pain). These men are alone from the world. They lose chess games to computers, they watch taped television shows over and over again. This makes them susceptible to destruction similar to an addict alone in their thoughts. The Shining is an example of loneliness within before isolation being a catalyst for destructive behavior, and ironically alcohol consumption. Here the loneliness of these men makes their reaction to trouble be clouded by underlying fear and resentment.

We are ultimately the enemy. We trust doctors, but they can infected with corruption. We trust animals, but they can infected with disease. We trust our peers, but they can turn on us. I take away more than cold war tension, nuclear paranoia, and the burdening threat of isolationism. I take away the fact that man is ultimately responsible for the destruction around them. Yes, these men are invaded by an alien being inside of them, but this can be representative of potential major changes that people sometimes experience. A major shift in character, in interest, in desire, in occupation, etc. can be cause for alarm in the people in our lives. And it's because such a shift can tragically change or end a relationship.

The film ends with two men who are able to express care and respect for each other. They very well may be harboring The Thing inside them, but in the face of inevitable doom they are able to have comfort in the fact for a time they are together. The impending doom is acceptable through the power of not being alone.

Oh,the practical effects looked AMAZING in HD.

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