Tuesday, 9 August 2016
A Synopsis and Thoughts on: "The Survivalist" Movie (2015)
So I watched a film about a dude lost in a forest somewhere in Ireland living in a hut last night.
The title of the film is "The Survivalist" with the stock story-line about everyone dying on earth
and the only survivors being reduced to starvation and brutal savagery.
The unnamed male protagonist who looked to me like a closest ginger, runs a horticulture farm that he patrols with a random shotgun strapped to his back. I'd describe the main characters personality as un-waveringly paranoid. At any moment he looks like he's going to shot someone or something a racy prospect.
Despite the formidable circumstances the lead characters finds himself faced with he manages to create a nice little pad for himself with wooden walls a fire, heaps of locks on all his doors and even some makeshift plumbing that gets fresh water into his hut from a nearby water hole.
After a while the viewers becomes accustomed to the monotonous mans way of life governed by fear and death jumping out from behind him at any moment. Then suddenly two woman appear on the scene literally trying to steal his radishes from his garden, Peter rabbit style. The guy gets mad angry at them and points a shotgun at both of them but then relents allowing them to stay the night as he fancies the younger woman. Naturally from this point on there is a strong undercurrent that underpins the film of the two woman trying to kill the man so that they can take over the farm, there only real prospect of living through winter.
During the numerous attempts of murdering the man the young girl (Mia Roth) and the male protagonist start having a whole bunch of sex and start getting on famously with a cute little relationship blossoming. The new couples status only further complicates things as the girls mother is still hell bent on killing the guy so that she can smoke his modest stash of cigarettes.
Synopsis over watch the film to see what happens!
What I want to mention though is the compelling qualities of "The Survivalist" that highlight the innate ability for human beings to be cold and calculating killers with our inbuilt instincts to thrive and survive in adverse conditions. When we are introduced to the male protagonist you can't help but put yourself in his own position and understand how human beings came out of the forest and wilderness by killing as a way of survival and life over countless generations. It's funny to think how badly we believe modern society to be what is really amazing is how superiour it is in many ways to the lonely precarious nature of the survivalist man. If he breaks his leg or falls ill he dies, in modern society you can simply rest in bed or wait for your broken bones to heal. It's a small difference but a very significant one that we are allowed to survive through what were once fatal accidents that seemonly trivial to us now.
The film also highlights how humans survived or died in nature due to the ability to hide and stay concealed from other predators. The myth of the apex human killing machine is mis-leading and not really true. In the film we see how human beings in our natural habitat generally only kill out of self-defence and the protection of vulnerable others. The remedial tasks of gathering food in the film also shows how something that was once so tough and a year long ordeal for most is now as simple as shopping at the stupid supermarket.
Lastly if this film succeeds in anything it's in awaking the hunter within the viewer. In modern society we sometimes find ourselves so removed from the wild and animals that we forget how we came to dominate them or take the position of shepherd over them. Sadly there are no animals in the film of the survivalist except a bunny rabbit so our place within the spectrum of animals and nature does not reverberate as strongly as it could of. The lack of companionship of the male protagonist does seem in many ways self imposed. But what is certain is how many is a rare type of creature suited to running, fighting, hiding and in general surviving against the odds and even with others trying to kill him at every fork in the road.
The role of horticulture in the movie also conveys how humanity slowly started to bring a certain amount of stability to our lives as we moved away from foraging and were allowed to grow crops and surplus food that could be stored.
One of the axes I have to grind with the movie is the naivety of which the protagonist planted and cropped his plants and where he situated his house/dwelling out in the open. It seemed to me a slight loop hole in the movie that the man didn't try very hard to hide his house and crops away from the prying eyes of evil stranges with bad intent. Paradoxically he chose to build his gardens in-front of his house with no protective measures or any thought of camouflage introduced. And for this reason in many ways he didn't really seem like much of a survivalist more a denialist of the necessity to be careful which he so often preached in the film but didn't practice nearly enough.