Cloverfield as a peer-centric movie

Just went to see Cloverfield, and it was a gripping experience, quite a surprise given a number of negative reviews I had read, such as the one in the New York Times. Luckily,some smart people I admire, such as Jon Lebowski, liked the movie too.

Now of course I’m a little obsessed by the p2p meme, so I’m bound to see it everywhere, but really, I see this movie as exemplifying an important shift in worldview.( Perhaps not surprising since the movie is the idea of the creator of Lost, which innovated television by creating a plotline from a multifold of characters, and has an episode showing the superiority of a commons to a market approach)

For example, this movie is totally friends-centric or peer-centric. Yes, there have been buddy movies before, but in my view, that such movies consisted of buddies that are individuals coming together. But in Cloverfield, it is really the group and the relations of the group that are primary. But not in a collectivist or wholistic sense either: there is no unified group, just relations. (perhaps the blair witch movie was like that, but I haven’t seen it?) . The relations are primary to the individuals.

You could say that the point of view of the movie is a-centric, a-perspectival. It is neither the problematic character of the boy who holds the camera, nor even the camera itself (though it ostensibly is) that is really the center, but rather, what it randomly sees. What it sees is entirely driven by the relational dynamics of a group reacting to outside events. The movie has no real hero, because even the heroic things that are done, one of the main characters is for example obsessed by saving is girlfriend, are not done out of any heroism, but rather matter of factly, because it’s the only choice available. That the others decide to follow him is entirely done on the basis of their relationship to the character. I see a lot of equipotentiality depicted in the movie, everybody contributing to his/her own potential, a mix of qualities and weaknesses, just doing what they can.

The other peer aspect I see is the role of institutions. They are there, there are some attempts by the authorities to evacuate the population, the army has a big role, but there is no sense of unified command, no priority given in attention. It is really filmed from the point of view of ‘citizens’, present to their own life, for whom these institutions are just a given, not a primary factor that drives their reality.

So in any case, I found this movie very innovative in its approach, it really defies all the conventions of the monster movie genre, and it is for me so much better than Godzilla for example.
Okay now, if you still hesitate, read this review from Marc Savlov

“Cloverfield is the most intense and original creature feature I’ve seen in my adult moviegoing life.”

1 Comment Cloverfield as a peer-centric movie

  1. AvatarChinarut

    wow – this review is pretty intense – I’m going to have to watch the movie with these “glasses” on and comment again!

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