Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In is a 2008 Swedish Vampire film directed by Tomas Alfredson, based on the novel by the same name, and written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

Note: We started our discussion via email too hastily, so I am posting those email comments here:

Hi Guys
This is a fantastic review of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, and addresses the homosexual elements.

Go have a look at this blog!! BK

Guys I just read the posts at the end of the blog it explains the shot where we see Eli naked in the bathroom if you want to know what that meant. Sorry that is in the first blog. Now I really am going to have to read the book. JF

Yes, I agree I am going to read it for sure
I don’t think it was her dad, I think it was a pedophilic relationship.
I actually thought that maybe that the blood was her payment, which provides the motivation for him getting her the blood. But I suppose I will have to read the book. I think it is a real shame that they left all this stuff out of the movie. BK

Hello Fangsters
Thanks for the discussion on Friday and picking up on some things I hadn't thought about before.
It was very informative for me. You're all very clever - perhaps a bit TOO clever if you know what I mean (No, neither do I).

Here are some comments regarding Eli(as) and bonus scenes that were cut from the film.

A new Korean vampire film by Chan-Wook Park has just been released called Thirst.

I'm very much looking forward to this one as he's a filmmaker I very much admire. I think this is his first foray into genre film making so it should be quite interesting. JD

Certain scenes and themes take on a whole new meaning when you know the back story to Eli I think and I have no idea why they put the bathroom scene in the movie when they cut the back story out. It will be really interesting to read the book and find out who/what the man (did we even know his name?) was to Eli, I am going to stick with my guess from Friday night but it would not be the first time I had been way off base. Not that that doesn’t mean that there was a pedophilic relationship happening obviously as Oscar gets older that would develop?? I wonder what his reaction would be when he realized what “I am not a girl” really means We seem to have more questions than answers at the moment.

I have to say that this movie has really stayed with me.
JD thanks for the links they were great by the way

Thirst looks great it is another one for the list I think. JF

Hi all,
Thanks for the links JD, very interesting (I couldn't get the deleted scene to open for some reason though). I've had some thoughts on the movie:

I agree with you Jo, this film has really stayed with me as well. I've been thinking about the title... On the one hand the title "Let the Right One In" refers to the notion that you have to be careful who you 'invite' in to your home, they might be a vampire. On the other hand, it might also suggest that Eli needs to 'let the right one in' - to let the right one into her world, to choose the right mate for her own survival?

I found a reviewer that mentioned that the title was based on a Morrissey song also called "let the right one in" so I looked up the lyrics... really interesting,

Let the right one in
Let the old dreams die
Let the wrong ones go
They cannot
They cannot
They cannot do what you want them to do
Oh ...

And when at last it does
I'd say you were within your rights to bite
The right one and say, "what kept you so long ?"
"What kept you so long ?"
Oh ...

In relation to the lyrics it would seem that Eli needs to let the 'new' one in, and let the old one die... "let the wrong ones go".

I've also been wondering about the creepiness of this film, while it wasn't scary for me it certainly was disturbing - it seems to me that a great deal of the creepiness and the pathos of these characters comes from the fact that they are just children caught up in a world of violence and loneliness outside of their control. On top of this they live in an extremely hostile and unforgiving physical environment. The more I think about it the more I sympathise with Eli's character (even though she is a murderer). Despite the fact that she is a vampire she is also a very human character - when Oskar asks her if she is dead she replies 'no'. VKK

Hi all,
I agree VKK, they are really interesting ideas.
I wondered that too JF, why cut all that stuff out? But maybe it took to story sideways too much?

I have thought quite a bit about the film since Friday as well. It is one of those films that hang around, nagging you.
I have continued to wonder about that alienating, disturbing filmic style. I think it falls into Film Noir or Neo Noir.
I know film noir is usually associated with 1940’s B&W detective, but…
Then I got to thinking, who is the hero, I think Eli is, she saves the man who was helping her from his pain, and from the law and she saves Oskar from his lonely, bullied existence. Although she is a small, ugly vampire with very little in the way of ‘thrall’, we sympathise with her and we are really glad that she found Oskar to help her.

There is interesting stuff on Film Noir here, this is quote from the link below.
Beginning in the 1980s, neo-noir began linking noir with dystopian science fiction in films like Blade Runner (1982), Radioactive Dreams (1985), the Terminator series of films, and Minority Report (2002). Film noir presents a world gone sour and presumes the failure of utopian Modernism; similarly, an enduring strain of science fiction evident since George Orwell's 1948 novel, 1984, has depicted the future as a failed past. The central character of the futuristic Blade Runner speaks with a world-weary cynicism that evokes that of 1940s hard-boiled detectives.
What do you guys think? BK

BK, I agree that Eli is in some ways the hero of the story. She also gives Oskar the courage to stand up for himself when no one else will. After he hit that guy in the head there was a shift in his character he become more confident in way he even began standing up to Eli – refusing to invite her in comes to mind. Eli also literally saves Oskar in the pool at the end of the movie.

VKK, I have to agree, it was a very creepy movie. I never really saw Eli as the murderer though until she killed the boys in the pool at the end. Yes she killed people but that was because she has to it was clearly something she struggled with doing. Although on reflection she had no problem getting someone to do it for her!! JF

Hi all,
I haven’t been able to get this movie out of my mind either.
Did anyone notice that at one point Oskar asked how she got there and she said she flew? (or was I just tired and imagined it?) I also thought it very interesting that all the way through we were led into a false sense of sympathy for the dirty little waif – until her true strength and abilities were revealed in the pool scene. Funny though, I never really viewed her as a child, more like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

I thought it was very interesting that the superhuman qualities associated with vampires such as her scaling walls, flying etc. was underplayed in contrast to her more ‘human’ qualities (until the end that is). So nice to see a vampire film that also focuses more on the drama than on special effects. I think that’s why I keep thinking about it. Maybe we should put this on our “must see again sometime” list! KM

KM, you were not imagining that she did say that she flew there – interesting, wonder what she meant by that. For the record I am officially banned from talking about it at home now.

I did feel sorry for her at one point, it was the first time that we saw her kill to feed. She was sitting on top of the victim and she rested her head on the body once he was dead. I got the impression that she was crying about what she had to do, did anyone else get that impression?

It should be on the must see again list and maybe the must discuss again list as well. I was on my way home Friday night in the car and I kept thinking of all of these things I wanted to bring up. I think this is the kind of movie you need to mull over for a few days and let the layers unravel a little. JF

Hello Fellow Vampsters
I'm enjoying your insights and would like to address a couple of comments, but I won't because I'm tired and have to go to sleepy-poos.
In the meantime here's a link to an interview with the author of the book and screenwriter for the film.

It's a little on the long side but a worthwhile read with lots of info that may answer some of your questions.

Also, short responses to some comments:-

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!

More later. JD

In reply to JD’s emphatic, and apparently definitive conclusion:

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!

Thanks for the opening into a passionate debate on this point, because I totally disagree on both counts.
Firstly here are just a few definitions of Film Noir.

Film noir (a movie that is marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, menace, and cynical characters) "film noir was applied by French critics to describe American thriller or detective films in the 1940s"

A film / movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical or desperate characters

Are films with a grim, urban setting that deal mainly with dark and violent passions in a downbeat way. ...

I think it is in part, modern Noir; this film crosses a lot of genres.

As to whether Eli is a murderer, how else can it be described? Not only does he/she procure helpers to kill for her, but she kills at least six people during the movie. Ok, she has to feed, but most sympathetic vampires at least seek out the evil in the world to feed on, or choose to feed on animals. Not only does she kill the bullies who are ready to kill the Oskar, but she entices a man, who is described by his friend as "the kindest man I know", to come to her aid under the bridge, and then brutally kills him.

Virginia was a poor lonely character who harmed no one, and she was jumped on from the bridge and killed. Do we say that the pirates of Somalia have to live somehow, so they are not guilty of piracy, murder etc?

I think the choice to have her feed on good or innocent people, and Oskar’s willingness to help or at least guard her, was intentional and intensifies the moral ambiguity of both the child characters. PK

The question as to whether or not Eli is a murderer weighed on me a little bit. As I said earlier I never really saw her as a murderer until the last scene where she killed the boys in the pool, but and this is a big but, she never had a problem getting someone else to do the killing for her. Also it would seem by what happened to Virginia that she could not just feed, she had to kill, but the man could have drain some of their blood but let them live (ignoring of course witnesses)

I guess the question, for me is anyway, is she in fact an animal? (if she was an animal then it would not be murder) I have to say that she is not an animal, so any life that she takes, whether or not they are good or bad victims, makes her a murderer. I think part of the issue for me was that I felt sorry for Eli (as I believe we were intended to do) until I realized that she was not in fact the victim in this story. I have come to think that even though she didn’t feed on Oskar he was in fact her prey and he will one day end up like the man that was looking after Eli killing for her and being killed when he is no longer of use.

Eli may be in the body of a 12yr old but she is anything but 12yrs old. I think she is a master manipulator.
I will leave the debate about Film Noir to those that know. JF

Eli Murderer? No!
Film Noir? No!
Ha-Ha! Yeah, it's certainly lacking some meat on the bone there. I didn't mean to make it sound emphatic and definitive. I had all good intentions to clarify my view on these things before your wonderful and robust argument came crashing into my groin :(

Damn you’re well thought out arguments!

When VKK first brought up the 'Murderer' tag I was struggling to accept it for a ridiculously long time. I'm still not totally convinced. Eli is a killer for sure, but a murderer?

I would no sooner call a lion a murderer for felling its prey. That's why I make that distinction. She behaves exactly like a predatory animal that needs to feed. The growling, the large eyes, the way she feeds on her victims demonstrates that her humanity has left the building at that point.

Virginia was a poor lonely character who harmed no one, and she was jumped from the bridge.

I don't think Eli knew that Virginia was a poor lonely character. Do you think that Eli may have acted differently if she had that information? I'm not sure it would have made any difference because she was in hunting mode.

Do we say that the pirates of Somalia have to live somehow, so they are not guilty of piracy, murder etc?
I agree that they are guilty and should be charged within the full extent of 'human' law. If Eli were caught, would (s)he be charged with murder?

The pool incident is certainly problematic to my viewpoint but to my way of thinking she could be seen as a Wolf mother protecting its cub. Or the queen alien in Aliens protecting her eggs (hoo-boy! this is the point where I think I’ve totally lost it).

I think I may be getting bogged down with legal semantics here and my sympathy towards the Eli character may be clouding my judgment.

This film has presented ambiguous characters with ambiguous morals in ambiguous situations which have forced me to give ambiguous answers because I suck at arguing. Can't we just be friends?

Anyhoo, Film noir.

I was thinking of classic noir of the 40s and 50s when BK mentioned it the other day and for me it didn't seem like a comfortable fit. My definition was much too narrow to encompass this film.

Here's a quote "A majority of critics, however, regard comparable movies made outside the classic era to be something other than genuine film noirs."

As I understand it the critics are still arguing to this day as to what constitutes film noir outside the classic period. My personal feeling is that this film doesn't satisfy my narrow definition of film noir :)

I think it is in part, modern Noir; this film crosses a lot of genres.

Four genres according to this site. JD

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