Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

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BurgerPrince
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by BurgerPrince » Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:06 am

I never expected this thread to last so long. I'm still reading through some old pages and appreciate the thoughtful discussion here.

I think @Alice?Maybe was right in 2014 that the films should be appreciated as "different animals." The most important difference is in primary theme. Loneliness is prominent in both films, but LMI focuses more on the loss of innocence, which is why I think it resonated with me so much.

I first saw it after finishing middle school.That summer, I felt the end of my childhood. Part of it was simply growing up, but another factor was witnessing and experiencing evil from adults. I saw photos of Southern lynchings (including live burning), Chinese slow slicing, German civilians blown up in WWII, and serial killers mutilating pets. I read in depth about the torture-murder of Sylvia Likens, wishing for her abusers to die more painfully.

Back then, I felt like I should have been more shocked than I really was. I already had violent fantasies and most of the human gore didn't bother me much, which made me think something was wrong with me. Even trying to direct my urges against evil people made it hard to discern myself from them. There was no moral guidance. My parents didn't pay attention; they blamed TV and video games for my problems. Meanwhile, I caught on to domestic abuse that my family ignored and even encouraged. That year, I lost faith in God and man.

Owen was bullied in plain sight as his school pledged to "justice for all." "America is good," his president would tell him. Evil was elsewhere or in Satanic cults, but Owen had to deal with it every day. His only source of moral guidance was a mother too drunk to know where he is. His father was too abusive to take that responsibility himself. The eyes of Christ would not stop him from committing evil via theft. Abby -- the "evil" one -- would not reject or mistreat him. Even after killing Thomas, she didn't want Owen involved in her deeds. "I told you we couldn't be friends," she said.

Looking back, I do think Reeves over-used special effects and fell into some stereotypes of American horror. [Edit] Abby's "be me" and puzzle scenes may have been worth keeping, but the actors conveyed the story well without it. [/Edit] The apartment raid should have been done a lot differently. Invoking Death of the Author, I don't think his intentions necessarily limit the way one can interpret the movie.

I still think it was better for Abby not to cry after killing the jogger. As much as it scars her, centuries of killing people would harden her. I rarely cried during my teenage years after losing my grandmother at 13. Even when my uncle died two and a half years later, I could hardly force a tear out. The guilt affects Abby on a deeper level, which is why her "I'm nothing" line is important.

Unless she turns her partners, Abby cannot maintain romance with them as they out-mature her, forcing her into decades of loneliness at a time. Owen breaks that cycle. She can finally be a kid with him again, emulating the days when she was innocent. The way she acts when he isn't looking indicates that she cares about him. She didn't have to come back for him in the end, especially when someone could have identified her. If she merely wanted a slave, she could've seduced someone else anywhere.

Owen, meanwhile, has someone to take him away from the society that disillusioned him. Whether he turns into another vampire or another Thomas is still debatable. The tragedy is that Abby eats either his life or his soul.
Last edited by BurgerPrince on Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by dongregg » Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:53 am

I haven't seen LMI, but I enjoyed your analysis. Even more, I enjoyed your sharings about your personal growth.
“For drama to deepen, we must see the loneliness of the monster and the cunning of the innocent.”

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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by BurgerPrince » Sun Feb 21, 2021 2:33 pm

dongregg wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:53 am
I haven't seen LMI, but I enjoyed your analysis. Even more, I enjoyed your sharings about your personal growth.
Glad you appreciate it.
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by sauvin » Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:46 pm

dongregg wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:53 am
I haven't seen LMI, but I enjoyed your analysis. Even more, I enjoyed your sharings about your personal growth.
It ain't LTROI, that's a fact, but it still rated highly enough on IMDB and it passes the Grumpy Old A**H*** muster as a different way of interpreting the kind of reality laid out in the novel. I believe it's still streaming somewhere, I'd recommend giving it a shot. One word of warning: when I first saw it the music was screechy and grating (but it grew on me after a few dozen viewings).
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by BurgerPrince » Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:09 pm

I have more to say after fully catching up on the thread.

"Little girl" was a better insult than "piggy" not simply because it's more thematic but because it's more realistic. Bullying is often gendered and sexualized. When I was in middle school, "piggy," unless cleverly directed against a fat kid, would have been the lamest -- or, in my middle school's parlance, "gayest" -- insult one can use. Even then, "little girl" would have been tame. "Retard" and "faggot" were go-to insults. Sometimes "nigger" was thrown around.

Matt Reeves specifically uses "little girl" to touch on androgyny and he type-casts Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz for that theme. He comments in the "making-of" documentary that Kodi "has a beautiful face" and "feminine features" while Chloe has "masculine features." When my brother first saw LMI, he said that Abby looks like a guy when she first meets Owen. The scene didn't show her hair. As someone pointed out in this thread, Reeves was bullied the same way for having "feminine features" such as long hair.

Owen doesn't say "little girl" to be bigoted -- he's simulating the power of his own bullies. While his "but you're a girl" comment was arguably misogynistic, Oskar also expresses doubt (at least in the book) when Eli promises to fight his bullies. Oskar is also anxious about being gay; his bullies use the word "fag." It's significant that he accepts Eli/Abby's insistence when he could've laughed him/her away. By the end of the story, he stands 110% corrected.

Depiction isn't the same thing as promotion. A storyteller's responsibility is not to appease everyday sensibilities when depicting everyday evils, especially in horror. The movie is meant to feel uncomfortable. My father went to a gang-ridden middle school and saw a lot of brutality. During the wedgie scene, he asked me, "is this a movie where we get to see them all die in the end?"

One of @Sauvin's comments from 2014 reminds me of my aunt. She was 10 when Title IX passed and still faced a lot of sexism in school, especially from teachers. "Little girls don't need to worry about math," they'd tell her. When her school educated girls menstruation, it went through painstaking lengths to keep the boys as far away as possible. It was thought that boys would freak out at hearing about it.

On another note, the impracticality of Owen's knife is raised in the movie. "What are you gonna do with that?" his bullies asked him. When I saw him use it against the tree, I couldn't help thinking "don't break it, kid!" I just re-watched the scene where he buys it; he only has $20 and spends some of it on candy anyway. A bigger knife might have been been too much in that moment and he might have wanted something easy to conceal. Owen's a bit sneaky; he buries his wrappers, spies on his neighbors, stays out of the pool, and steals from his mother.

Someone asked why Oskar was friendly with one of his bullies at the beginning of the pool scene. Bullies tend to target their own friends and members of their own peer group. Oskar could have had friendly interactions with some of the bullies before or even during the story. He referred to them initially as "friends" when Eli asked about his cheek. Kids tend to be a bit disarmed when their bullies suddenly act friendly, even in LMI. In the book, Oskar's own friend Johan lures him to swimming practice. "The whole class hates him," he said after the fire.

I was infected when I first saw LMI and had never heard of LTROI yet. On top of the thematic elements I talked about, it touched the romantic feelings I had as a kid. When I first came to this forum at 15, I was a bit too defensive and biased (and junkposted a bit too much.) Writing was still rough for me and I didn't articulate my views as well as I should have, but we all grow. LMI has some flaws that LTROI doesn't, but I still think it's a beautiful adaptation of JAL's story.
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by sauvin » Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:11 pm

BurgerPrince wrote: "Little girl" was a better insult than "piggy" not simply because it's more thematic but because it's more realistic. Bullying is often gendered and sexualized.

There might be a couple of things to mind here. One is that LTROI's "piggy" might be more than you think because this isn't the Anglosphere, and (knowing nothing of Swedish culture or values) it could be that porcinity has connotations for Swedish folk that don't occur outside Scandinavian cultures. Another is that we're talking about Blackeberg (and Los Alamos) forty years ago.

Fifty years ago in my little corn patch there was a worse thing to be called, a word beginning with 'p' and rhyming with 'wussy". Just about the only thing worse would be words imputing homosexuality, one such word starting with an 'h' and another starting with an 'f'.
BurgerPrince wrote: Owen doesn't say "little girl" to be bigoted -- he's simulating the power of his own bullies. While his "but you're a girl" comment was arguably misogynistic, Oskar also expresses doubt (at least in the book) when Eli promises to fight his bullies.
It's not bigotry. It's sexism (although we could go 'round and 'round the mulberry bush a few zillion times about what the actual difference is).

Again, remember, this was set 40 years ago. Ellen Ripley (Alien, 1979: in space, nobody can hear you scream) had only started making the rounds three years prior on the Big Screen - she who chucked H. R. Giger's creation's phalliform head out the window of a deep space life pod - and while she most definitely blazed a trail for other tough, smart and independent leading ladies in mainstream theater and everyday life, the message was still taking a while to start breaking glass cielings. Ripley wouldn't establish herself as a Marine's best dream and worst nightmare for another seven years, how's that for "slow"?

Some five or six years earlier, when I graduated high school, the implicit assumption schools (and most of the rest of society) being foisted on children was that boys would grow up to be farmers and construction workers, and girls would grow up to be cooks, baby factories and housekeepers. Anybody who wanted anything beyond this was either rich or kinda weird, or maybe both. At the time, if anybody had tried to suggest that a twelve year old girl with Abby's physique (or Eli's) could chuck Kenny's head out any kind of window would have been laughed right into an asylum: Kenny out-massed her by almost half, and none of the difference was flab.

Even if Abby's physique had been greater and/or Kenny's less so, there's probably another component to Owen's weakly offered objection: having her fight his fights for him would have had pretty much the whole school calling him the dreaded P-word with a solid subtext of "coward".
BurgerPrince wrote: Depiction isn't the same thing as promotion. A storyteller's responsibility is not to appease everyday sensibilities when depicting everyday evils, especially in horror. The movie is meant to feel uncomfortable.
A storyteller's responsibility is merely to entertain, but an exploration of the whole concept of "entertainment" would probably wind up trying to go places where the moderators on this board would nail up a sign saying "ROAD CLOSED". Just as a suggestion for where such exploration might begin, our forebears gathered around the fire and told stories about things that happened on the hunt while they huddled in caves at night, and while their stories probably usually involved a lot of laughter, it just as probably often involved tears when hunting forays incurred casualties. They weren't just gloating about their successes or mourning their losses, they were also indirectly analysing all the coulda-shoulda-woulda scenarios in an effort to get a better grip on their prey and on strategies for maximising yield and minimising loss. Einstein didn't invent "thought experiments", some brute lugging around a cudgel did.

"Successful" storytelling happens when buttons get pressed. Blatty and Friedkin (Exorcist, 1973) pushed religious terror, Stone pushed the horrors of war (Platoon, 1986) and King pushed (amongst other things) the horrors of childhood (It, 1986 novel) with liberal supernatural (symbolic and/or metaphoric) inclusion. We have many buttons to push, so the "top ten" of just about any given list of works of fiction is going to have different kinds of button pushers. Lindqvist also pushed some buttons pretty darned hard and we're still trying to figure out exactly what those buttons are after all these years!
BurgerPrince wrote: On another note, the impracticality of Owen's knife is raised in the movie. "What are you gonna do with that?" his bullies asked him. When I saw him use it against the tree, I couldn't help thinking "don't break it, kid!"
The very first word to cross my mind when Owen tried to brandish it in Kenny's face in the locker room was "impuissance".
BurgerPrince wrote: On top of the thematic elements I talked about, it touched the romantic feelings I had as a kid.
There was this girl named Debbie when we were in the seventh grade, eyes like scintillating blue diamonds in the night, hair the colour of espresso, laughter like a symphony of silver flutes. Her whole body shook when she laughed, and she laughed often. I was at that age already, when I noticed other girls I tended to notice body parts rather than the girls themselves, but when Debbie invaded my dreams, eternity wrapped itself around my heart with millions of promises of cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, long, lazy days on tropical beaches just running my nose through that wonderful lustrous hair.

Romantic feelings? You betcha!
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Re: Did anyone else like LMI better as a film?

Post by BurgerPrince » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:26 am

sauvin wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:11 pm
...There might be a couple of things to mind here. One is that LTROI's "piggy" might be more than you think because this isn't the Anglosphere, and (knowing nothing of Swedish culture or values) it could be that porcinity has connotations for Swedish folk that don't occur outside Scandinavian cultures. Another is that we're talking about Blackeberg (and Los Alamos) forty years ago...
Interesting take. Just to clarify, I thought "piggy" was used pretty well in LTROI. My point was that it wouldn't have worked in LMI.
sauvin wrote: ...A storyteller's responsibility is merely to entertain, but an exploration of the whole concept of "entertainment" would probably wind up trying to go places where the moderators on this board would nail up a sign saying "ROAD CLOSED"...
Agreed. I think I should've worded my comment as "it's not a storyteller's responsibility to appease..." I didn't mean to indicate that a storyteller must cause discomfort or avoid being sensitive. Otherwise, I don't think most people would want to be "entertained." :P
sauvin wrote: The very first word to cross my mind when Owen tried to brandish it in Kenny's face in the locker room was "impuissance".
All the more reason I think it makes sense for him to become a vampire. He can hide a body, but he can't hold his own in a fight without Mr. Zoric watching.
sauvin wrote: ...There was this girl named Debbie when we were in the seventh grade, eyes like scintillating blue diamonds in the night, hair the colour of espresso, laughter like a symphony of silver flutes. Her whole body shook when she laughed, and she laughed often. I was at that age already, when I noticed other girls I tended to notice body parts rather than the girls themselves, but when Debbie invaded my dreams, eternity wrapped itself around my heart with millions of promises of cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven, long, lazy days on tropical beaches just running my nose through that wonderful lustrous hair.

Romantic feelings? You betcha!
My ex-girlfriend is bisexual and would confirm that. Growing up with the Spice Girls was awkward for her. When she was 12, three girls noticed she was alone and tried to befriend her. They asked her to say what she thought was pretty about them. "Your figure," she responded. The conversation ended quickly.

Another gay woman had this to say about infatuation:
To see a pretty girl is to see an angel, a paragon of beauty and virtue. You want to bow down before her, praise her, summon the very best of yourself and lay it at her feet in the hopes that she will deem you worthy and let you into heaven.
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