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... who wants to write me a comparative essay on the use and meaning of fantasy in Life on Mars, Pan's Labyrinth, The Science of Sleep, and the end of Angel season five?
I think you're the best man for the job. Either that or possibly ninebelow but ask nicely.
Could Martin also throw in The Bridge?
That fact I haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth or The Science of Sleep may be a small impediment to this. I have seen 'Normal Again' and read BRazil though.
It's not Angel, it's Buffy "Normal Again" !!!
God, I found that episode depressing.
Yes please...
Smashing. I suppose we should try to come up with a slightly more definite title ...
I found Pan's Labyrinth satisfying precisely because its ambiguous fantasy elements are so carefully balanced that they can neither be conclusively proved nor disproved.

In contrast the finale of Life on Mars has left me a bit bemused. Although it was always going to be impossible to end in a completely satisfying way, it's so very obvious to us as viewers which of Sam's two 'realities' is the real one, which means that the ending is far from ambiguous. Brazil is definitely the more apposite comparison, I think. But still, I can't help but wonder if that's really what they intended.
I don't think LoM's ending is intended to be particularly ambiguous -- I agree with Martin that it's meant to be seen as a retreat into fantasy.
But still, I can't help but wonder if that's really what they intended.

It was:
“To be honest with you, I was always slightly surprised that people thought there was a genuine mystery. To me, it was very obvious – he got hit by a car, the doctors and nurses were speaking to him over the radio and through the television and he was in a coma.

“The fact is that he just began to suspect that there seemed to be a way in which he could change his world and so, obviously, naturally once he’s there for quite a period of time, he begins to assimilate so much of that world into himself. He starts to question whether he was ever anywhere else.


Whatever Matthew intended, fans have taken ownership of Life On Mars, and the ending, with Sam back in 1973, can still be viewed in different ways.

Simm, himself, believes his character may not even have returned to the modern day.

It depends on what you want to believe.

“I think it does,” agrees Matthew. “The truth is, when I wrote it, what I was trying to say is that’s he’s died, and that for however long that last second of life is going to be, it will stretch out for an age, as an eternity for him. And so when he drives off in that car, he’s really driving off into the afterlife.”
Also, bad Gene => cancer has just occurred to me.
I'd throw Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective into the mix too.

Also, while we're at it, Potter's Cold Lazarus, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Mulholland Drive, Total Recall, and *especially* Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Also, was I the only one who was strongly reminded of the end of the Sodebergh/Clooney Solaris? Right down to the thumb-cutting scene?
I haven't seen LoM, but it's an intriguing pitch.

Sorry for flaking on the Pan's/SOS discussion, BTW. I went away for a week and when I came back I'd sort of lost the thread.
Yeah, that keeps happening with email discussions I try to start. :)

Not to worry -- it was interesting while it lasted. And you should watch Life on Mars.
Perhaps. I'm in equipoise.
That comment has disturbed me to a ridiculous amount. Ask Liz why...
Shame I can't stand Angel, eh?
On many levels. :-p
My new favourite comment on Life On Mars.

Funny how Turn of the Screw was supposedly the only Todorovian fantasy and yet there's half a dozen movies we could name that do the hesitation thing.

The phrase cosolation fantasy distinction sprang to mind, too.
The consolation fantasy definitely sprang to mind, too, dammit.

Could've been worse. Might have typed coleslaw fantasy.
Also: I thought consolation fantasy was mostly used to describe fantasies that console the reader. Life on Mars may console Sam, but it definitely doesn't console me.
I haven't been watching Life on Mars, but am curious as to how it ended: did it turn out, as i had predicted, that he was a character in a Chris Priest novel?

-- tom
Not quite. Sam was in a coma; Gene turned out to represent a brain tumour; they operated to remove the tumour (which in 1973 equated to turning Gene in to internal affairs), failed, but managed to get Sam out of the coma; Sam found life in 2007 numbing, and jumped off the top of a building to get back to his 1973 life.