Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Silent but deadly

I'm cleaning house.

Literally, actually. We've had workers in here all week, renovating the place inside and out, and my room in particular is a disaster. So while I'm in Hazel mode, I decided to put in a movie - not one to watch, but one familiar enough so I can just listen and follow along. Some people use music for this; I'm more visual-aural, if that makes sense.

Looking through my DVDs for a cleaning soundtrack, I quickly decided on the red-blooded American classic that has spawned one sequel, one spin-off, comics, toys and perhaps most impressively, two governors.


Arnold Schwarzenegger's best film. The film that gave Jesse Ventura his autobiography's title: "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed." And the movie that began perhaps the most underrated stretch by any single filmmaker: director John McTiernan's action trilogy of 1987's Predator, 1988's Die Hard and 1990's The Hunt For Red October. All classics, all in a row.

I've seen Predator a number of times since I first snuck into the R-rated film 20 years ago. I've never just "listened" to it, though, and now I have an even greater appreciation.

The climax of the film really begins at its one hour, 17 minute point. Schwarzenegger is on his own; his comrades are either dead or have fled to "the choppah." As he plunges into a jungle lake and subsequently gets covered in life-saving mud, he screams: "Oh, shit!"

This is the dialogue that follows.

1:21: "Couldn't see me."
1:32: "Bleed, bastard."

The dialogue picks back up at 1:36, beginning with the understated "You're one ugly motherfucker."

So for a span of 19 minutes, from 1:17 to 1:36, the film has only five words of dialogue. Can you imagine one of today's big-budget summer blockbusters - which Predator was in 1987 - going damn near silent for 19 minutes? During the film's climax, no less?

I assume I'm more impressed with this than others will be, but I admire McTiernan for allowing his visuals to tell the story, and not filling our ears with jokey Schwarzenegger lines or obvious exposition. It was a ballsy move, and one that obviously paid off seeing the film has maintained popularity two decades later.

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