Is Denis' DUNE worth the trip?
Plus some quick bites on a busy Friday
It’s Friday, October 22, and here’s where we are…
There are no words that can easily sum up what a tragedy it is to lose your life on a film set, especially when it’s an accident that should have been easily prevented.
I have nothing but empathy for everyone who was working on Rust, including Alec Baldwin, who reportedly fired the shot that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Evidently, director Joel Souza was also injured, and it sounds like there will be an investigation into what happened. I have absolutely no opinion about the set itself because I have no idea what happened beyond those broad-stroke details. What I do know is that the thought of having a fatal accident on a set I am responsible for is something that absolutely haunts me. When I was working at Dave’s Video, we were lucky enough to get to know Brandon Lee. His manager was a long-time customer and they would come in to pick up movies together. It was clear to all of us working at the store that Brandon was charisma incarnate, sweet-natured but with a quick, sharp wit. He seemed to me like an inevitable movie star, regardless of his parentage, and I was happy to see him start to make his way through the system.
When the initial reports from the set of The Crow came out, it was inconceivable. There was no acceptable world in which Brandon wasn’t at the start of his career. He was so young, so vital, such an intense life force, and the idea of a momentary lapse in on-set security snuffing out his life was obscene. It still is. No film is worth a human life, and one of the primary tasks on any set is making sure people are safe. It’s crazy because so much of what we do on film is designed to create the impression of something dangerous, something out of control. I look at a movie like Mad Max: Fury Road, and what I love about it is that sense of absolute chaos captured and somehow tamed. I am truly awed by filmmakers who are able to wrangle a storm onto film somehow, and watching Burden of Dreams or Hearts of Darkness is just as thrilling to me as watching Fitzcarraldo or Apocalypse Now. I think film culture has celebrated the idea of risking it all for art, but that’s not the experience I’ve had on the vast majority of film sets. For the most part, film is a craft, and part of that craft is simulating danger without actually being in danger, and stunt and special effects technicians I know are all devoted to making sure everyone goes home at night intact.
I am sure people will milk this accident for headlines and traffic and that Alec Baldwin will become a target for even more controversy than he already routinely attracts, and that is all heartbreaking. It is truly startling how ghoulish our mainstream culture has become and how vicious and how little consequence there is for any of it. Suffice it to say that my heart goes out to everyone who knew Halyna Hutchins. I cannot imagine the shock or the pain today, or the sudden loss to the creative community that had so warmly embraced her.