Good Scene / Bad Scene
Chosen by Vincenzo Natali, the director of 'Cypher'
Friday 05 September 2003
GOOD: '2001: A Space Odyssey' (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
It's the scene where HAL the computer gets shut down. It's one of the saddest death scenes ever. Even though the character dying isn't human, you're witnessing the computer's mind eroding. Dave has been shut outside and says: "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." He forces his way in and erases the memory banks until at the very end, HAL sings "Daisy, Daisy".
HAL's dying, and it's horrifying to watch. Kubrick explores how "civilised" man is a brittle veneer, and his most human character is HAL. He was making a statement about human beings working hard at being computer-like when we're descendents of the apes. HAL isn't evil; he's acting in the mission's interests by shutting down life support. It's one of the ambiguities of the movie, and why it provokes so much discussion. HAL's a tragic Shakespearean character. My film is about corporations dehumanising our world, and 2001 deals with people lost in a technological world. It's a masterpiece.
BAD: 'Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace' (George Lucas, 1999)
It's when Liam Neeson's character explains that The Force is a bacteria in your blood. In one scene George Lucas undermines the entire mythology of the first Star Wars trilogy, films that were important to me growing up. I like the original explanation of The Force: that it's an energy shared by all beings and anyone who is open to it can access it. Neeson's character says you have to inherit it, and to me that's an elitist ideology as opposed to a completely democratic one.
I don't know why Lucas did it. The first trilogy was about rebels fighting an all-powerful empire, and at the time he was a young film-maker struggling against the studio. Episode 1, which he made after becoming very powerful, is about a trade federation. His priorities have changed, maybe it's the difference between youth and middle age. He's a really interesting film-maker, but a victim of his own success.
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