OK, I made a post like this on IMDb before, but I kind of want to expand on it here. I can't go off topic if I made the topic can I?
To me Eli is the most sympathetic mass murderer ever committed to celluloid, this is partly inspired by Wolfchild's introduction asking why that is and Wolfchild's "No Redemption" thingy.
umm, spoilers for those who haven't read the book
One of the more interesting changes I found between the book and the movie is Locke's death. In the book, Oskar takes a much more active role defending Eli. (Lacke also is also much more serious about killing Eli, he aims the knife at Eli's heart and interestingly is pushed to do the deed because of Eli's sleeping simile.) Lacke is thwarted by a Rubix's cube to the back of the skull courtesy of Oskar, and then Eli gets her snack. In one of the creepiest non-Hakan moments, Oskar locks the door and puts on his headphones to drown out the noise coming from the bathroom. This comes after the ear-whacking scene and it can be seen as evidence that that Oskar is maturing (into a very violent person but maturing nonetheless.)
In the movie, Oskar screams and Eli wakes up. He is still totally dependent on Eli, (he helps Eli only indirectly and may even be responsible for letting Locke in by not locking Eli's front door after he comes to visit her). Oskar in the film didn't mature at all, (or maybe he does and realizes he isn't capable of that kind of violence). Why did Alfredson change this key scene? I argue that it's to garner more sympathy for Eli.
Eli, the 12-year-oldish boy/girl vampire kills a lot of people in the movie. If it were a Hollywood production, those people might be gangsters or other characters painted as despicably as possible before their deaths. Alfredson and JAL thankfully do not go that route. Instead, Jocke is introduced as the bestest buddy anyone could want and it is Eli that manipulates his kindness and kills him. How are we suppose to root for such a character? It is because Oskar loves Eli and we the audience see Eli through Oskar's eyes. Before and after each killing by Eli, we see Oskar's loneliness and pain followed by the tender moments he shares with Eli. So Oskar's smitten with Eli and we're along for the ride. We share in Oskar's triumph when he asks Eli to go steady, and we're sad when Oskar's "first date" turns out disastrously. We connect with Oskar because he's just a sensitive kid, bullied through no fault of his own: an innocent.
For us to continue to root for Eli and Oskar, It's imperative that Oskar remains innocent throughout his interactions with Eli.
Eli has to give Oskar everything (friendship, courage, even her life during the invite scene) or else we wouldn't forgive her for taking the lives of so many others. As I write this, I'm reminded of the story, "the giving tree". You know the one, the tree gives the boy shade, apples, and even wood to build a boat. Eli is Oskar's giving tree, except that she has to take from others to provide for Oskar.
I'm thinking that Eli's selfless love for Oskar is barely enough to offset her other deeds. If Oskar actually actively participated in the killing of Locke, we'd blame Eli the vampire for corrupting Oskar. Oskar has to be defenseless during the pool scene for a similar reason. Oskar's lack of resistance makes the bullies more evil so the audience would cheer for what Eli does during her return.
So, we sympathize with Eli the mass murderer because we understand why Oskar, an innocent, loves her. Oskar's character is presented the way he is in the film because he has to be a symbol of purity that accepts Eli and Eli has to act as the protector of that purity. If Oskar was not a blameless character; if he took a more active role in defending Eli, the audience wouldn't sympathize with Eli enough to make the movie work as a love story. So instead of "No Redemption" Oskar is Eli's redemption. In the movie, Oskar is purely innocent anyways so he doesn't have to be redeemed (tree stabbing and murderous scrapbook notwithstanding).
That took longer than I thought. It's just one theory for why Eli works as a sympathetic vampire. And an analysis of how the movie manipulates the audience emotionally (in a good way). It's rambling but it's late and that's how I think.
Last edited by cmfireflies
on Tue Jun 30, 2009 4:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
"When is a monster not a monster? Oh, when you love it."