Monday, April 04, 2005


It says a lot that I was actually disturbed by Sin City.

I read the graphic (appropriately called) novels several times on the train going to work in San Francisco. I remember being somewhat shocked by the books, but I enjoyed the visceral rawness of it, and I liked being shown things I'd never see in my normal life. Some part of me is interested in humanity's rock bottom, which I guess is why I liked undeads so much when I was DMing D&D. The Sin City comics were great, because everyone involved was bad, even the good guys. The cop trying to save a little girl blows the kidnapper's balls off. The guy avenging the murder of his perfect woman is a complete psycho madman. There's a layer of blood and silt on everyone in the town, and Frank Miller is the best at making characters who are covered in blood and silt.

The film is interesting in that it rarely ever shows blood as blood. Sometimes it's a white pool on the ground. Sometimes it's black and pooling in a dead man's slit throat. Sometimes it's even yellow. But the thing is, whatever color it is, it's somehow nastier than regular ol' red blood. Somehow the film sells us the three-color world of Basin City so completely that even in white sillhouette a man blowing his brains out is nasty and horrifying.

I had forgotten much of the graphic novels, and so it was interesting to rediscover the stories. I had forgotten Elijah Wood's character in the book, which was good, because it let me rediscover him in the film. I had forgotten Benicio del Toro's secret in the book, so I could discover it in the film. Of course, I had forgotten much of the rawness of the book, or I assumed that some of it would be glossed over in the film, but I was wrong. It's all there: The hooker tearing a girl's throat with her teeth, the talking severed head with the gun barrel sticking out of it, the dismembered guy being eaten by his own pet wolf. Somehow, where I said "Whoa, ew, cool" in the book, the film made me say, "Oh man, good lord."

It really is a fantastic film, and I imagine that the reaction I mention above is one the film causes on purpose. The "review" I linked in the title bar above contains an itemized list of the "offenses" in the movie, in case anyone's keeping score. Robert Rodriguez, the director, apparently shot the movie using the comics as a storyboard, and it shows. There were individual frames in the movie that I remember from the comics, which is pretty damn cool. The actors, especially Marv, looked more or less exactly the way they looked in the books. Marv's parole officer, played by Carla Gugino, looked exactly the way she did in the comics, especially in one scene in which she speaks with Marv in the bathroom, She's naked there, and it's almost like they gave her prosthetics or some CG to make her body look exactly like her character's body in the comics. The attention to detail is amazing, and the way in which it's different from our world is just pronounced enough to reassure us that this sort of thing isn't really happening on Earth.

I think I'd like to see it again, a matinee by myself, where I can really take a look at the film now that I know what to expect. It's not often that a film, especially one for which I read the comics, to disturb me the way this one did. I want to find out why it disturbed me so.

Besides, it was a damn good movie of a damn good comic. I'm tempted to take the comics with me when I go so I can compare and contrast. I expect a hideously good DVD.