Viking Night: The Crow

By Bruce Hall

August 3, 2010

Is that gasoline I smell?

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Most consumers have no problem loving a huge budget blockbuster. Movies that are meant to appeal to the widest possible audience usually do just that. But some films have a narrower vision, or simply contain more complex meaning than meets the eye. They aren't always art, and they aren't always even very successful. But for a devoted and eccentric few, they're the best entertainment money can buy. Once, beginning with Erik the Viking, a group of dedicated irregulars gathered weekly in a dingy dorm room to watch these films and discuss how what pleases the few might also appeal to the many. Time has separated the others in those discussions so that I alone remain to ponder the wider significance of cult cinema. But while the room is cleaner and I no longer have to skip class to do it, I still think of my far off friends whenever I hold Viking Night.

Several columns ago, I made a solemn vow to eventually discuss a film that I didn’t particularly like. I started out with this as my goal and I think I’ve said this several times recently, but I can assure you that this is still not the week. I am going to say in advance that today’s selection is a movie that I absolutely, dearly love and that maintaining any kind of artistic subjectivity is going to be hard. I guess that in and of itself is a bit of a challenge, because sometimes it’s easier to write about something you love, and sometimes it’s easier to write about something you hate, because in either case your emotions allow the words to fall almost effortlessly from your fingertips - it all depends on your state of mind.


So, my state of mind regarding The Crow is this: I love this film. It’s one of my all time favorites. I am a Goth at heart, a music lover, a Bruce Lee fan, an action movie junkie and somewhere deep, deep inside a little bit of a romantic. The Crow delivers for me on all those levels. I love this movie so much I would marry it, I would listen to it talk about its feelings, I would put up with its obnoxious friends and I would bring it flowers and make it dinner every Sunday. I guess that makes for a good laugh, but it isn’t for purely sentimental reasons that I am such a huge fan of this movie. Sure, I can’t deny that part of it is nostalgia - this is a quintessentially '90s film in every sense of the imagination, and I can’t help but revert to my formative self when I watch it. But its central theme is timeless; it’s just a powerful film – and it's one that’s custom made for people who don’t normally respond to powerful films.

The Crow is based on a popular series of comics by author James O’Barr, who sought to deal with the loss of his fiancée by penning a story where his protagonist was able to gain some measure of relief from the agony he suffered. So here’s how it works: When someone dies under especially heinous circumstances, their soul is often unable to rest. A crow (which in mythology carried the dead to the afterlife) brings the spirit back to serve justice and find peace. Once the deed is done, the crow carries you back to your eternal reward. Needless to say, in this case the deceased comes back with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. If you’re going to take the trouble to rise from the dead and avenge yourself, researching legal loopholes at the library isn’t an option - you’re going to want to crack some skulls – and this is exactly what happens to Eric Draven (Brandon Lee).

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