Saturday, December 5, 2009

Death List Part 1

The whole world is a homicide victim, Father. Would a god who is good invent something like death? Plainly speaking, it's a lousy idea; it's not popular, Father. It's not a winner. ~ Lt. William Kinderman talking with his friend Father Dyer (Exorcist III)
Death in the movies. I guess I've been thinking about this subject, subconsciously, since last weekend. Ever since I participated in another of Dennis Cozzalio's semi-regular movie quizzes (fun as they are), in fact. And, I can point to the specific question that triggered it, too:

44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.

It shouldn't surprise that an answer came forthwith. Plus, I marveled at the answers leveled by those who participated in the quiz to that question. I don't recall where I read it, but someone wrote, given the choice, men secretly hope for a demise such as the one nobly characterized in the question above. Sure, I bet everyone would rather have the idyllic, dying in bed of old age. Author Stephen King once described a good death as that (following a great dinner and a prime bottle of wine, that is). However, for most normal folk, it doesn't happen under those ideal circumstances. So, going out by giving up your own (for something greater) has an appeal. It's a Y-chromosome kind of thing, I guess. This kind of selfless, life-ending, act sure sounds better than the bad death King countered to the ideal one: that of being under your car to change the fluids, and the jack collapses; and as you're slowly crushed to death, as lousy as that is, the last insult is the slow drip of oil onto your forehead. Ugh.

This post has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.


  1. Good list! I would agree with pretty much everyone you listed. John Woo seems to be into self-sacrificing deaths and one of the best was in THE KILLER where Chow-Yun Fat takes one for the poor girl who's eye operation he was trying to pay for and the cruel irony: his eyes get shot out! Ouch...

  2. That's another great one, J.D. (along with the cruel irony in that story). Tell me, have or are you going to take in Woo's Red Cliff. I hear it's good, and I'm trying to find some time to take it in myself. Thanks for your comment, my friend.

  3. I have not seen RED CLIFF yet but it sounds fantastic altho, I heard that we're getting a drastically cut version of the film (in HK it ran 4 hrs.) so I think I'll wait 'till DVD. Hopefully Criterion can snag it and release the full version.

  4. Amazing list! You managed to pick several of my faves. I will also add:

    Gandalf (Ian McKellen) in LotR. I swear that when I saw the movie the opening night I heard very heavy sobbing in the audience.

    Ofelia's (Ivana Baquero) sacrifice in Pan's Labyrinth tore my heart apart.

    Mufasa in The Lion King and Bambi's mom, because I cannot deny that they somehow marked my childhood.

    Guido (Roberto Benini) in La Vita E Bella

    And not quite a death scene, but a whole death movie... The Passion of the Christ, particularily during the whipping. As a pseudo-orthodox Catholic, I dare say Jesus's death has never made me cry so heavily as when I saw the flagellum.

    By the way, I do agree with you that we Y-cromosomers like to see death, while girls love life; but did you know that in ancient nahuatl culture and their belief in duality they associated death with the femenine while life was considered masculine? Odd, isn't it?

  5. Oh, you've added some really moving examples here, Poncho. All of those are great. And Ofelia's really got to me, too. That's also a very interesting fact you cite about the nahuatl culture, too. I wonder what was behind that particular belief? Thanks much for your comment, cousin.

  6. Oh, another gut-wrenching bit of self-sacrifice, Bjork in DANCER IN THE DARK. Talk about your heart-wrenching conclusions to a film! Not a dry eye in the theater when I saw that one. Whew!

  7. DANCER IN THE DARK is one of those films I've always heard about, wanted to see, but haven't, as yet. I've place in the ol' Netflix queue. Say, wasn't that directed by the same guy who did Antichrist (that I've been hearing about)? Have you seen that one? Thanks, J.D.

  8. Thank you for the kind words and the shout out. Alex Delarge is actually a pseudonym. He is the lead character from my favorite film A Clockwork Orange. I actually like working under cover. Thank you again and I will be linking to your site shortly, keep up the great work.

  9. Glad you could stop by Alex (I'll use your moniker). I enjoyed your posts. Thank you, too, for the kind words.