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Annihilation - Alex Garland directs Natalie Portman in Sci-fi Picture

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12 hours ago, Alex W. said:

I think there’s a poignancy to the ending that makes any superficial resemblance to that cliche irrelevant.

 

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She didn’t actually try to kill it initially, and was forced to as she realised she couldn’t get out with it mirroring her. The actual moment of its destruction is played out like the extinction of something precious.

 

 

She should have just put her sword away and walked past it (super obscure Prince of Persia gag)

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Ending being too tropey thoughts

 

Spoiler

On the surface level "getting to the center and killing the thing" is a well worn trope. But it's a film about self-destruction and identity, not the destruction of an enemy. The alien isn't bad, it simply is. Kane kills himself when the alien mimic arrives because he's unsure he's the genuine article, driven to his limits by his experience he becomes his own unreliable narrator. But Lena kills the alien. As she touches the alien's hands and places the grenade in it's palm, ripples of human skintone run up it's arms and a face swims into existence - her face. She looks herself in the eye, pulls the pin and runs. You're not supposed to be happy about it, the alien death and collapsing crystalline structures are presented like a stroke or hemorrhage destroying something unfathomably intricate and unique - identity, self. 

 

That's just how I saw it though. The fact we can have these conversations until the end of time and not reach a consensus is why I love the film so much.

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That's a really good point Moz.

 



I'm interested in hearing folk's thoughts about self-destruction in the film. What drives Portman to self-destruct? Is Area X just mirroring her own wish? The Psychologist suggests that maybe Kane came to Area X to self-destruct or escape, due to their marriage. 

 

I find this new ending and the theme of self-destruction very interesting, as its a bit different than in the book, and imagined in a different way. The word Annihilation in the book has a very specific meaning, but I feel that maybe Garland took that title and ran with it as a theme.

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3 hours ago, Moz said:

Ending being too tropey thoughts

 

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On the surface level "getting to the center and killing the thing" is a well worn trope. But it's a film about self-destruction and identity, not the destruction of an enemy. The alien isn't bad, it simply is. Kane kills himself when the alien mimic arrives because he's unsure he's the genuine article, driven to his limits by his experience he becomes his own unreliable narrator. But Lena kills the alien. As she touches the alien's hands and places the grenade in it's palm, ripples of human skintone run up it's arms and a face swims into existence - her face. She looks herself in the eye, pulls the pin and runs. You're not supposed to be happy about it, the alien death and collapsing crystalline structures are presented like a stroke or hemorrhage destroying something unfathomably intricate and unique - identity, self. 

 

That's just how I saw it though. The fact we can have these conversations until the end of time and not reach a consensus is why I love the film so much.

 

Spoiler

I was quite happy she managed to kill it because the alien was extremely dangerous. The alien had already caused the death of quite a few people and seemed oblivious of our existence as sentient beings, in the same way a human driving a car will be completely indifferent towards any insects it runs over. The alien was in my opinion the most dangerous alien I have seen, simply because you couldn't really interact with it. 

 

 

 

On 3/18/2018 at 13:13, Alex W. said:

I think there’s a poignancy to the ending that makes any superficial resemblance to that cliche irrelevant.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

She didn’t actually try to kill it initially, and was forced to as she realised she couldn’t get out with it mirroring her. The actual moment of its destruction is played out like the extinction of something precious.

 

 

Spoiler

Well, she did try to shoot it after it had killed Dr. Ventress.

 

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18 hours ago, Stevie said:

 

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Well, she did try to shoot it after it had killed Dr. Ventress.

 

 

Did it?

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I enjoyed this a lot - the scene with the carcas in the swimming pool was both oddly beautiful and terrifying, perhaps the best alien body horror since The Thing. I was expecting an escalation after the flowers and bear, but the ending went somewhere which felt more dreamlike and symbolic, but less coherent in terms of the shimmer being a sort of... “reality tumour”? The potential for horrific mutations and body horror went unrealised.

 

The grenade scene was powerful, but I was less than impressed by the “mirrored Lara” scene.

 

I wonder: is it worth picking up the whole series of books given I prefer the first two thirds of this?

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13 minutes ago, grindmouse said:

 

 

I wonder: is it worth picking up the whole series of books given I prefer the first two thirds of this?

 

Yes

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25 minutes ago, grindmouse said:

I enjoyed this a lot - the scene with the carcas in the swimming pool was both oddly beautiful and terrifying, perhaps the best alien body horror since The Thing. I was expecting an escalation after the flowers and bear, but the ending went somewhere which felt more dreamlike and symbolic, but less coherent in terms of the shimmer being a sort of... “reality tumour”? The potential for horrific mutations and body horror went unrealised.

 

The grenade scene was powerful, but I was less than impressed by the “mirrored Lara” scene.

 

I wonder: is it worth picking up the whole series of books given I prefer the first two thirds of this?

 

I read them one after the other and I think it's best to see them as 3 chapters of the same story rather than individual books.  

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On 19/03/2018 at 15:15, Alan Stock said:

That's a really good point Moz.

 

 

  Hide contents

 

 


I'm interested in hearing folk's thoughts about self-destruction in the film. What drives Portman to self-destruct? Is Area X just mirroring her own wish? The Psychologist suggests that maybe Kane came to Area X to self-destruct or escape, due to their marriage. 

 

I find this new ending and the theme of self-destruction very interesting, as its a bit different than in the book, and imagined in a different way. The word Annihilation in the book has a very specific meaning, but I feel that maybe Garland took that title and ran with it as a theme.

 

 

 

I thought of a good way to phrase it -

Spoiler

she commits and act of self destruction as an act of self preservation. And by doing so is changed into something new. That's really what the film is getting at - life and death are a cycle which create new and wondrous things, unique and beautiful and finite. The importance of the uniqueness of identity is such a big deal to us because we want to feel singular and self actualised. And in some deep part of ourselves we all know we're part of the process.

 

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Enjoyed this right until the very end when the film tried to present some ambiguity that wasn't there at all in the scenes that came before it.  Apologies if already covered, I'll read through the thread tomorrow.

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Seems like Garland's experience in the big studio system has left him a bit burned, his next announced project isn't a film, he's making a TV series instead, well at least a pilot:

 

Quote

 

FX has given a pilot order to Devs, a drama from Alex Garland, the award-winning writer-director of sci-fi thriller Ex Machina.

 

Garland wrote and will direct the pilot, which he will executive produce with Ex Machina and Annihilation collaborators DNA TV and Scott Rudin Productions.

 

In Devs, which will be produced by FX Productions, a young computer engineer, Lily, investigates the secretive development division of her employer, a cutting-edge tech company based in San Francisco, which she believes is behind the disappearance of her boyfriend.

 

 

He previously gave some hints about what the proposed full series would cover:

 

Quote

“The next project, provided it happens - hopefully we're gonna shoot it later this year - [and it’s] an eight-part television series for FX,” he said. “It’s a sort of science fiction, but it's a much more technology based sci-fi whereas Annihilation is a more hallucinogenic form of sci-fi and more fantastical form of sci-fi. This is slightly more in common with projects I've worked on like Ex Machina or Never Let Me Go, which are taking something about our world now -- not our world in the future, but our world as it is right now -- and then drawing sort of inferences and conclusions from it."

 

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Sounds good to me, his choice of film topics are quite complex and slow burners, so a move to TV makes sense. Give him a good budget and I look forward to seeing what he'll do with it. Look at how good stuff like Westworld is now - where they take a cool movie concept and turn it into a much deeper show with great writing and acting, where you can explore the topic over time. 

 

I've finished the audiobook trilogy of the Southern Reach - which has excellent narrators on the Audible versions. Overall it's still as good as I remembered, although a bit slow and drawn out at times. Totally packed with mysteries throughout and each book builds more and more on Area X and how people deal with it. My favourite is the 2nd, Authority, which many people dislike but I find especially creepy. Without spoiling it, it's mostly set in the stagnant Southern Reach headquarters. Vandermeer was inspired by Kubrik's The Shining in its tone and that really shines through, with a great ending and lots more nuggets about Area X and "pre" Area X.

 

For anyone who has been reading the books and has questions/theories about it, check out the excellent comments section on GoodReads, where even Vandermeer popped in to say  he enjoyed reading the theories there. It definitely helped me cement some of my thoughts on what's going on - although of course most of it is deliberately left ambigious and unknowable.  

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21 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

Sounds good to me, his choice of film topics are quite complex and slow burners, so a move to TV makes sense. Give him a good budget and I look forward to seeing what he'll do with it. Look at how good stuff like Westworld is now - where they take a cool movie concept and turn it into a much deeper show with great writing and acting, where you can explore the topic over time. 

 

I'd agree with that, for the type of stories Alex Garland is interested in telling, longer runtime big budget TV seems more suitable for him, hopefully he'll find more of an appreciative audience there. Of course, FX have to like the pilot to greenlight the proposed series.

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Took me a while to get this watched. I'm fond of Garland - I love 28 Days Later in particular and some of his work is poetry - but he's structurally a bit rough sometimes and can't write third acts. 

 

This is very much in that vein. I like the fact that it would have reached a wider audience through Netflix but it was like watching a C64 demake at times with my connection. I would have loved to have seen it in the cinema. 

 

Favourite bit

Spoiler

 Was when Lena woke up and you realised she'd missed several days at the same time as the character. 

 

So what 

Spoiler

Happened to Josie? 

 

Has anyone mentioned Tarkovsky's Stalker? There's literally a shot looking down on swimming fish. 

 

Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow on soundtrack, which is excellent. They did an unofficial soundtrack to Dredd, called Drokk. Intrigued by how they got from there to here... 

 

 

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Yeah it's very Stalker/Roadside Picnic at times.

 

I liked thinking about how this alien arrived and totally fucked up the surrounding area in ways we can't comprehend and for reasons we are likewise unable to grasp. Kinda like what a local ecosystem probably feels like when humans arrive/how it would be if we started colonising another planet that has life already.

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I watched this at the weekend and thought it was fantastic. I didn't really get it until the significance of the affair became apparent, then all the psychology and Jungian themes revealed themselves. The veneer of the science-fiction disappeared and a really beautiful depiction of the dark side of own psychologies emerges. It's incredibly clever and very astutely depicts how depression, loss and anxiety can change the entire existence of ones reality. That self revelation is annihilation of self. Which in turn is necessary for healing and rebirth. 

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It's pretty much a blow for blow personification of Jungian theory. At the end she literally meets her shadow self and destroys it with illumination. 

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Just read the second book ‘Authority’ and found it on the whole to be a rather unsatisfying slog after really loving the first one. Is it worth reading the third book, I’m in it for the weirdness rather than procedural overly descriptive banality that made up most of the second one.

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On 30/06/2018 at 08:41, SpagMasterSwift said:

Just read the second book ‘Authority’ and found it on the whole to be a rather unsatisfying slog after really loving the first one. Is it worth reading the third book, I’m in it for the weirdness rather than procedural overly descriptive banality that made up most of the second one.

Definitely worth reading the third if you're intrigued by the story.  Somehow the author manages to tie all the surreal craziness together and answers pretty much all your questions by the end. 

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Great film and great to read a thread like this afterwards. I watched the google video, Garland is a great interviewee with lots of interesting things to say about the process of making the film. 

 

I just posted in the Dredd thread a similarly revealing thread on the 2000AD forum where he answers questions from the forumites there:

 

 

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On 13/03/2018 at 13:20, Majora said:

Messy, incoherent thoughts on change and self-destruction

 

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So obviously the movie works on a literal level, with the 'alien' unknowingly fucking things up through the refraction of DNA causing mutations etc. And you have the team of women each entering the area with their own reason for wanting to face likely death. But what about the metaphorical level of how external events change us, and our ultimately self-destructive nature?

 

For example, one of the women talks about how two people died when her daughter passed away - her daughter, and the person she used to be. Just as occurs in Annihilation, we are constantly evolving and changing and shaped by external forces, often being changed so heavily by things outside of our control that we inevitably 'mutate' into a different person. Someone who looks the same on the outside but who is composed of something else entirely under the surface. God knows I can relate to that with what has happened in the past 18 months of my life and the change it has had in my personality, but I digress.

The alien in the movie doesn't know why it's doing what it's doing. At some unconscious, primal level it feels the need to carry out its actions, but it doesn't really comprehend the effects of them. It is destructive and, ultimately, self-destructive. It is a mirror for each the women in the movie and, essentially for all of us. One of the characters in the movie comments how self-destruction is built into our DNA, manifesting itself through aging but also in our destructive actions - in affairs and drug abuse and god knows what else. We may not understand the motives of the alien, but in its acts of unknowing destruction being carried out at a primal level, the alien is essentially as flawed as a human. After all, we often do not understand the subconscious motives driving our own destruction. It is, in its way, as destructive as Portman having an affair which then inexorably changed her boyfriend and herself forever. 

It's no coincidence that Portman battles herself at the end. A helplessly destructive entity assuming her form and quite literally mirroring her actions, facing a woman compelled to carry out this journey by her own acts of compulsive self-destruction and a desire to save her boyfriend and, ultimately, absolve herself of the guilt her self-destruction wrought. 

After just one viewing I'm not entirely sure I have a full grasp on these themes, these are really just fragmented musings. I do not initially have any real thoughts on how the group leader and her ultimate fate tie into this. They must do - hell she is even dying from cancer, the disease which the alien's actions correlate incredibly strongly to. But her role, and in particular the way in which she is annihilated is kind of awash in my mind at the moment.

 

 

I imagine a second viewing of the movie could be quite different taking it at a metaphorical level as opposed to a literal one.

Your analysis chimes pretty well with Dan Olson's.

 

 

Edit: Just an upfront warning, the first 6 minutes or so is a rant against certain types of Youtube film analysts who focus rigidly on plot without exploration of themes and metaphor. The Annihilation stuff comes after that.

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