Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Battle of Good vs Evil

Today I watched the first two episodes of "Carnivale". Am now waiting for the next three episodes to complete downloading, so I thought I might as well capture my initial reaction to the series in the meantime.

Let me get the Clea reaction out of the way first. She's got lots of screentime here, unlike most of her other appearances. Objectively, I can't yet say that she's got the range of really outstanding actresses like Jodie Foster and Julianna Moore; haven't seen enough of her to make that call. Still, she is so intense, so extremely watchable, so.... hot. (Is that a profound observation or what? *smirk*) Needless to say, I'm looking forward to more :)

About the series, I think anyone who enjoys magic realism will appreciate the world of the series, where comatose women can communicate psychically with their daughters and blind men can "see". As for the storytelling, you'll have to be a masochistic fan of storytellers like David Lynch to not be frustrated by the lack of answers. The structure is linear enough - the difficulty is the lack of backstory and the pace at which the audience is given clues. Personally I am enjoying it, trying to guess who and what fits in where. Hey, if I can enjoy watching "Lost Highway" (which to this day I still don't understand), this is a piece of cake.

I particularly like the ambiguity of who's good and who's evil. We know it's a battle of good vs evil, but I don't think it's going to be as straightforward as that. Brother Justin may be the preacher who seems to have the direct line to God, but he strikes me as being the evil one. Feels evil, if you know what I mean. The carnies however, ostensibly the freaks, seem to be the normal ones. Perhaps, the Management is God. So Ben Hawkins has the "unnatural" gift of being able to heal and raise the dead - does this make him the evil one? If there is a twist, the role reversal reminds me of Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy and good ol' feminist revisionist versions of the Eve/Lilith story (was it Sara Maitland's short story that I first read?), both of which I enjoyed tremendously.

If this seems like so much intellectual wanking, it probably is. Still, this is nothing compared to the deeply serious debates ensuing on the Carnivale website, about the symbolism and significance of everything and anything on the show, right down to the names of the characters. So, for the cynical or the unbelievers, I suggest you watch out for the beautiful cinematography and lovely attention to circa 1930s Depression-era detail instead.

I'll return to my star-gazing now, if it's alright with you.



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