[Back in 2018, there was a social media challenge on Facebook in which a person posted a picture a day for 10 days of 10 films that made an impact on them. However, I went a step beyond and posted an explanation as to why they made that impact. For the sake of posterity, they're being reposted here in their entirety (with some modification/update where warranted)]:
Day 5 of 10 movies that had an impact on me. 10 films that inspired you, 10 days, one image. I was nominated for this challenge by Andrew Baldwin. Anyone else care to try? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
“Take your best shot, Funboy. You got me dead bang”.
No, Mr. Lee…you had US “dead bang”.
“Reality Bites”, “Dazed and Confused” …those films and a few others are among those considered the cinematic benchmarks of "GenX". Well, I submit that “The Crow” (1994) is THE seminal film of that...my...generation. While those films did humorously touch upon the concerns and preoccupations of those of us coming of age in that tumultuous period, this film (despite its fantastical nature) touched upon and explored the existential angst (whether affected or not) that simmered beneath the surface, belying the dismissive Boomer sobriquet of “the slacker generation.” Ours was the generation who saw all our institutions crumble as we grew into adulthood: Church scandals, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Contra, skyrocketing divorce rates and broken homes, Reaganomics, the Iraqi war, Rodney King, Compton, Nicole and Ronald, S&L…is it any wonder that a certain degree of nihilistic apathy developed? This film captures those concerns in atmospheric, Gothic, foreboding fashion. In that sense, WE collectively ARE Eric Draven, a victim of a world that has robbed him of all foundation (represented by his wife Shelley, ethereally played by Sofia Shinas), stripping him of his very life. However, his frustrated anger and despair cry for vengeance; to make sense of a world made senseless by forces beyond his control…and it’s only in the supernatural that he finds his outlet, one not afforded to the viewer. My own world had crumbled by this point, to which I almost lost everything, including my own life. Because of that, perhaps I’m making more of this than warranted; reading into it more than I should. But the film is literally a work of art for it is emotionally evocative in a way that goes beyond simple film. But isn't that what good art is supposed to do? Stir the emotions? Inspire self-reflection? The soundtrack by various grunge artists and the bittersweet, haunting, tribal, affecting score by Graeme Revell adds to the aesthetic. It is initially oppressive and permeated with a sense of loss.
That loss is no more powerfully felt than it is in the form of Brandon Lee as the title character. In many ways, his story is that of Draven’s: a man on the cusp of stardom and (arguably) a happy life until fate unexpectedly robbed him of it. Lee had been known primarily as the son of martial arts “god” Bruce Lee, and his highest profile film to date had been the eminently forgettable “Showdown in Little Tokyo”, playing second banana to Dolph Lundgren (even going so far as to proudly comment on his co-star’s manhood in script in an especially embarrassing sequence). Yet he was more than a martial arts star in the making. He was a bona-fide actor who gave the performance of a lifetime, which serves as both the apex of his craft and a hint of what could have been. The tragedy of his on-set death only adds to the material in a way in-and-of-itself supernatural. Like the character he portrays, Lee is the specter that hangs over the entire production like a shroud; his presence, and lack of same, permeating every facet and aspect of the entire film. Ernie Hudson is especially moving as “Officer Albrecht”, representative of the previous generation whose job is to protect the next, yet woefully inadequate to the task. Rochelle Davis, as “Sarah”, gives an equally moving performance representing the next generation whom ours is charged to protect. Yet how protective and nurturing can one be when one is dead inside? "The Crow" offers a bittersweet response.
Like the comic that spawned it, “The Crow” is a film that transcends itself. Yet, it is also subversive, for beneath its nihilism is a theme that resonates especially in the film’s tagline “real love is forever”, for this film is ultimately about love: How it uplifts us when it’s there, and how we despair when it’s gone. Love drives us, motivates us, and figuratively and in this film literally, restores us to life. There is no way to truly remake this film…though not for lack of trying Like yesterday’s cinematic choice, a host of diminishing sequels (and one moderately successful television series) followed, each incapable of capturing the evocative power of the original.*
Truth is, no matter what I say about this film, it would still be inadequate. “The Crow” is an iconic piece of art; one that despite its air of oppressive despair, shows us that where there is love, there is hope: it’s a film that reminds us that no matter how bad life can be…
…it can’t rain all the time.
*As of this writing, a remake starring Bill Skarsgard and Danny Huston will be in theatres in 2024. While whether it succeeds or fails remains to be seen, it will be due to its own merits. I’ve said on this blog before that “every generation deserves its own iteration”, and from that idea is the understanding that it will be its own entity completely devoid of the circumstances mentioned above, both internal and external, that makes this film so special.