Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The best film of the year

The civilized man who wants to force his view of a better world on his rough-hewn opponent warns, gently and compassionately, "I have to hope you understand: You can't beat us."

The man who'd rather live free in the world as it is replies, "I got no need to beat you. I just want to go my way."

A quick moment that is gone before the profundity of the exchange can sink in. One of many such moments in the slam-dunk no-doubt best movie of this year, heck, the best movie of most years, Serenity - which arrives on DVD today.

Malcolm Reynolds has become worn and bitter in the years since he fought in a bloody war for independence from the Alliance that rules the planets with a civilized but iron hand. The bitterness grows from the Independents' crushing surrender in the Battle of Serenity Valley. In his disillusionment Reynolds just wants to go his way, eking out a living by hook or by crook as the owner of an independent cargo ship, which he has named Serenity. Mostly he's content to earn his living by flying under the radar of the Alliance, until ...

... until he discovers the depth of the horrors being committed in the name of the Alliance-led better world. He must decide whether to go his way or try to force the Alliance to stand down and leave its citizens alone. He finally realizes he has no choice - he must fight for his right to go his way unimpeded.

Before we settled on the Stars and Stripes, one of the memorable flags of the United States of America depicted a snake and the incription, "Don't Tread On Me." The message was that free men are like poisonous snakes - harmless until you step on them, and then they bite and teach you about their venom.

Serenity is the story of a free man and an attempt to tread on him. It is a story about the cost of freedom. Ultimately it is the story of the triumph of free men, a triumph that feels as shaky as it feels triumphant.

Many TV series and films have featured snappy writing, terrific acting and direction, and memorable characters and images. But Serenity and its predecessor, the beautiful but short-lived TV series Firefly, have something more: A message about the hard costs and glorious benefits of liberty. And that, above all, is why the story of Malcolm Reynolds is the best damn story ever shown on screen.

May America and the world discover this story and begin to shape a future where free people live in peace one with another.

Oh yeah. It's also funny and the best damn adventure ride in years. Rent the darn thing, or accept the inevitable and buy it, because you'll want to see it over and over. I love these characters, I love this film, I love the TV series - I have to believe you will, too.


Blogger Wally Conger said...

I really wish I hadn't asked for the Serenity DVD for Christmas. If I hadn't, I'd be watching it on my TV this evening. Damn!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous John Newman said...

Wally, I hoped you asked for two, the first one is gonna get worn out and you'll need a backup.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Vache Folle said...

Loved the movie, loved the series. Own the series, want the movie. I have taken to talking like the characters and using phrases like "morbid and creepifying" and such like.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Tom Ender said...


Like Wally I asked for it for Christmas and now must wait.

11:49 PM  

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