The time is the 1950s: seedy Brooklyn private eye Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is hired by shady Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to locate a pop singer who reneged on a debt. Harry ventures into Harlem, the first step of a Heart of Darkness-inspired odyssey. Each time Harry makes contact with someone who might know the singer’s whereabouts, he or she is killed in a horrible, ritualistic fashion; a Satanic cult seems to be at the bottom of all the carnage. Harry solves the mystery, all right. He just didn’t know that he had the answer all along — even before Louis entered his office. Also available in the “unrated” video version, Angel Heart is best known as the film that nearly got an X-rating due to a no-holds-barred sex scene involving Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet |
Assignment: This movie is perhaps the most controversial out of all the ones we have viewed this semester. It is referred to as a Horror-neo-noir film. If you are unfamiliar with the term “noir” you should google it. Basiclally noir is a term that was given by French film theorists to American films of the 1940s and 50s that were black and white films about murder, mystery and the downfall of the main character. Often girtty and realistic, these movies reveal the dark side of human nature. Among my favorite noir films are Detour– a cult classic, DOA (Dead On Arrival about a man who gets poisoned while drinking at a bar and only has hours to live) Kiss Me Deadly. The Big Sleep. You can also youtube film noir and see a short doc on the topic The Rules of Film Noir. So that’s just background for this next film Angel Heart.
The other aspect is that it is still horor, holds all of the atmosphere of Gothic and is at certain moments really scary.
There is also-finally- not an all-white English or Victorian setting and cast. The film is paritally shot in NY and in New Orleans.
Here is where it gets tricky also. The horror is also mixed with Voodoo and devil worship.
You have to rent the Netflix DVD version of Angel Heart and also watch the documentary on Voodoo that is in the bonus.
The topics to write about are:
1. How does this film both reflect the gothic genre in showing atmosphere and mood and how does it differ from the other gothic/horror that we have previously discussed.
2. Is represenatation of race and religion a problem in this film? In other words, are African Ameicans depicted as stereotypes and not realistically or is it finally a welcome change that African Americans are represented in the historically white genre of goth and horror? Could it be a little of both? You should also refer to the documentary on Voodoo.
3. This film has again the message of selling one’s soul to the devil. How does the twist at the end work to enhance the motif in this film? How does it differ from other films? Does it work or is it too confusing?
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