Homepage > Joss Whedon’s Tv Series > Firefly > Reviews > Firefly - "Serenity" Movie - Nilly.shriftweb.org Review - Spoilers
FireflyFirefly - "Serenity" Movie - Nilly.shriftweb.org Review - Spoilers
Friday 21 October 2005, by Webmaster
I skipped nearly 1500 posts. I’ve threadsucked them and intend to actually try and catch up, but before reading anybody else’s opinion, I wanted to write down my own. So I am going to blatantly ignore every single ongoing conversation, and apologize in advance for what will be - if ever - a very lame possible later meara.
Also, this is all so very jumbled up. I’ve hardly had any sleep (only got back around 3am, and got up before 7am), and the holes in that sieve I dare call brain are big and large. I tried not to write down the things I liked about the movie that I already liked about the show - the grow-up characters, with actual friction between them and still that trust and working-together, when needed, for example. It’s hard to tell apart, in a way, what’s the show and what’s the movie and where the one starts and the other ends in my mind, but whenever something felt "I said it once", I just tried not to say it (or at least, how unnatural to me, to say it with fewer words).
Even what I did manage to write is all fragmented. I wish I had the time to make it pretty, to actually put some thought and structure in it. Some of it is just sentences drifting with no connection to anything else other than their floating at one point in my mind through the movie.I don’t know when I’ll get to sit and try to write later, if at all, but I decided I’d post it anyway - a mess of a post is better than none at all, right? So, um, anyway, sorry. But, hey, fun movie.
It’s not fair to make me laugh while I’m in tears. And then again, and then again. It’s not like I didn’t expect that, but still. They kept the dinosaurs. That was so absolutely lovely. The first thing I could say, when the movie ended, was about those dinosaurs. The moment I fell in love with "Firefly" the show was those dinosaurs.
When the movie ended, in a room full of science-fiction-convention-geeks (and I say that as totally one of them, well, being there and all, so it’s not a criticism!), the credits rolled all the way through (usually, in an Israeli theater, you’re lucky if you get thirty seconds, even when there are all sorts of fun stuff hidden throughout). The lights were back on only when the last of the credits finished to roll. I was just sitting there in the dark, trying to hold to one more second in that world.
And people were all: "so do you think he planned that for the Reavers from the start?" and "How do you spell that in English?" and "Oh, the scale of the effects was much bigger" and "It was different from the tv show because - " and "didn’t he change Simon’s story from the pilot of the show?". And those are all good things to talk about. I’ll probably talk about them myself - what I’ll be able to, my vocabulary in movies-speak is so very limited (it’s not the English, this time, I have nothing to blame). But at that moment, all I wanted to do was slide slowly from that world, that held me for two whole hours. You know, like looking back after you turned to leave? And I think that’s the best sign, for me, that no matter what thoughts I may have afterwords, I got inside the movie and its world was real for me. I love it when that happens.
Oh, and the Chinese wasn’t translated! When they showed "Firefly" here, the network made the translator translate the Chinese phrases, no matter that the English-speaking original audience couldn’t understand them, and that’s how they were meant to be. In "Serenity", though, there was no such translation. The Chinese was as non-understandable as it should be. I was so very happy about that (and I’m never happy about being not-able to understand something!).
I don’t think I know how to phrase thoughts regarding actual analysis of the movie. When watching, I was "inside" the experience. I never thought "this is like the show" or "this is different from what they explained on the show" or the like. Also, I don’t know to use all those long stylistic words in order to talk about the differences between mediums or techniques or anything. Obviously, it’s there, but it’s not even that I don’t know how to phrase it, I don’t think I know how to form the thoughts for it, the actual questions, let alone the answers. So I’m not going to even try to get into that. Just the movie, without any comparisons (other than "this feels like that episode", which are emotional, totally a "me" thing).
Even though I was ’inside’ the movie, I remember myself thinking "oh, such a pretty picture!", on more than one occasion. I only remember one of them, now, that didn’t involve just "Serenity" moving in space. That image of the ruined planet (Haven, IIRC), and River looking through an empty frame, burning. Just looking through it, standing behind it, her look framed by the flame, with all the ruin around her and she’s so alert and so lost.
I loved the shots from River onwards. I’m not sure I explain myself properly. The shots that seemed to move in a direction that seemed to be dictated by a certain movement of river. A hand that’s sent somewhere, a strand of hair that move is a certain way, a look that’s being glanced in a certain direction. It wasn’t the "seeing things in her eyes" from "Objects in Space", but rather the drawing attention to the fact that she sees things differently. To me, at least. I’m still not sure I can explain myself, or even if I have any idea what I’m talking about.
Now, I don’t understand a single thing about fighting scenes. My sign of when they’re done well is if I can tell who is winning and who is losing without them telling me after the fight "OK, so I won". I was not only able to follow the fight scenes in the movie, both the personal one-on-one and the space-battle ones (though I have no idea who won there, the only thing I figured out was that "Serenity" escaped), but even to realize how beautifully River moves. There’s that image of her, with both swords in her hands, drawn each to a different side, her back arched and she forms a sort of half-a-circle with her shoulders - it was just beautiful. Like a waterfall.
I was just so glad to be back, to walk those corridors again with my eyes, to visit with those imaginary friends. The beginning long shot: with the name of the movie being the name of the ship, and how it gets inside and moves inside it. All the way through the corridors, and up and down, and following Mal wherever he went, and just feeling that the ship is really there and people can walk inside it and breath inside it.
I loved the way the Operative walked through the hologram of Simon and River’s escape. The beginning of "things aren’t what they seem". Also, the way River sees things, the way it’s like she’s inside somebody else’s head - that was looking like the Operative was trying to be inside her head, to figure out what was going inside her and Simon. And in a way, he did. He went through River’s head, but noticed Simon’s expression, was inside his emotions.
I loved the way River - with her dancer abilities - can choose the most unexpected places to hide, to hold herself, to be in. There was a shot of two characters talking - I can’t remember which - and on the floor above, River was lying on the metal grid. We only saw her head, and all the people talking, and it looked completely as if she’s part of - not the conversation, but of the minds of the people who take part in that conversation, if that makes any sense.
I loved how, just like in a dance, where each muscle should be stretched as far as it can, where each movement should be as precise as possible for the body to carry it properly, where the slightest change makes a difference in the feel of things, even if one (me) can’t see it - that’s how River not only moves, but also talks. It’s like she’s moving her face, her mouth, with the same precision of dancing that she moves her body. Like she sometimes manages to taste the words just the way she senses the earth and the floor with her bare feet
Mal trying to use River in his robbery makes perfect sense with Mal’s own personality - he uses what he can, he does what it takes in order to take care of his crew. Even if that risks them in the process. He - and they - take the risk. The "save what we can" approach, like in "Safe".
Mal throwing off that man who tried to climb the mule to run away from the Reavers - there’s a discussion in the Talmud that goes somewhat similar to this ethical dilemma: two people in a desert. Person1 has enough water for just the one of them to get to the end of the desert and survive, Person2 has nothing. The person who doesn’t drink the water will surely die. The person who drinks the water will surely survive. Splitting the water means they both don’t have enough to survive, so they both die, just as if none of them drank at all. What should Person1 do? The answer is, it’s completely OK to drink the water alone, even though it’s obvious it will lead Person2 to death. It’s OK to take care of your own life, even though depriving this from somebody else means their death.
And that’s the kind of grown-up dilemma that has no going-around it, no clever easy-fix solution, no way of out-smarting and out-hero-ing your way of. "Out of Gas". They barely made it safely inside "Serenity" as it were, with only the four of them. They would never have made it with that fifth man. And there was no outsmarting that. So they didn’t.
Throwing the loot - which was also throwing their life in the near future, just as vital as air (and probably is) and not falling into the hands of the Reavers - was just as much their death as the actual one. And that’s why Mal didn’t even consider it long enough before he chose to toss that man. Also, it echoed - though differently, possibly - Jayne’s choice from "Jaynetown".
Those are characters that may do questionable things, in a world that not only can’t find any easy other solutions for them, but practically the opposite, leaves them with no choice but to having to resort to questionable acts and tough choices. That’s science-fiction at its best, for me - the people, the situations they’re facing, their choices, the implications of those choices, and the thoughts they manage to make ramble in my head regarding them. I love it when a work of fiction, images and sounds, manages to do that to me.
Mal knows he can get all outrageous, crazy notions, going on the line, in terms of dangers and of ethics, because he has Zoe at his back, and she questions his every move when it seems to her to be worth questioning - leaving that man behind, leaving River and Simon, going all the way with them, deforming the ship. He can play with all possibilities, because she’s such a rock, and has no problem challenging him.
In the chase after the mule, when Zoe thought that they’re not going to get to "Serenity" on time, she was leaning on Wash. She’s the strong warrior, the one who can actually kill them (who later does), but she leaned on his calming words, on him coming to rescue her. She trusted him saying that she could fly the mule to safety, and together, they did manage to save it. In all the action and chase and monsters, I loved that relationship most.
The movie starts with the lecture of the teacher, the attempt to put order and "the way things are" into other planets in other solar systems. It starts with telling the planets what to do, and we can’t avoid it, because otherwise it will be impossible to live in them. And then the central ones are so very much inside this process, they think they can regulate anything,, even the outside planets.
The operative wanted a world without sin, and Book, the Shepherd, wanted people to believe in something, whichever it was. He didn’t try to correct their ways - for example, the way he treated Inara in the pilot - but to help find peace in their hearts.
I don’t think I’m able to accept that Mal actually went through all this "make the world a better place", wanted to really change the world outside him own little one that he had built. I think he wanted so much to believe in something, when seeing that the one thing he had - the ship and the crew - is falling apart - that he wanted himself into believing in something that the ’old’, pre-war, Mal would believe in.
Again, flaws - in a perfect world, there’s nothing to learn, nowhere to grow, nothing to become better. In a world without sin, there’s no forgiveness, compassion, giving-a-chance. In Judaism, the world was created for people, with their flaws and imperfections ’built in’, and not because G-d couldn’t create us perfect.
And that’s Book’s story, isn’t it? Being able to go another way.
Book’s story, as short as it was, with all those missing pieces, that’s what the movie was all about, in a way. A man who chose a way to live his life. A man who found a meaning other than surviving. A man who seemed to not be afraid of admitting that a former life was wrong, that he made mistakes, that he needs to change. And took the steps towards that change.
It seemed that he found a destination at the end of his journey, that he started in the pilot. He wasn’t on board "Serenity" anymore, he found a planet to live on, to work in. A physical rest-stop throughout a mental search that didn’t end yet.
And even though he wasn’t aboard "Serenity" anymore, he was still a member of its crew. Not just in his eyes, but also in Mal’s. In a contrast to the way River and Simon were portrayed as apart from the other members of the crew, even when they were still aboard the ship, he was inside even when they were a far distance away.
I loved Jayne quoting Book. The thug, who puts himself first and is willing for everybody else to die as long as it may ensure his safety, is the one who remembers the words of the man of faith, the man who seemed to dedicate his life to that little community built on Haven, to the man who seems so much like his opposite. I loved the relationship between those two characters in the show, I totally understand how come it couldn’t be shown in the movie, and I thought that this touch was just lovely as it was, without any further explanations or elaborations. Especially considering the content of that quote.
In a movie, two hours and that’s that, pretty much every character can die. There’s no "opening credits" immunization, like in most TV shows. So this movie was strange - which could play here? And in a funny tv-land sort of way, Book’s death was like a relaxing pat on the hand "look, there, you know that I’m evil and kill characters, so here, I killed you a character, and now you can all relax and watch the rest of the thing", but also exactly the other way around, because, hey, nobody is safe! Not even Mal.
"Leaf on the wind" (I hope I’m quoting right) - and he was exactly that, and anything but. He moved between those two giant fleets, the one led by the person who threatened them for the whole movie, the other but the biggest threat ever presented in that universe, and those two fleets were fighting between themselves, shooting and bombing and responding, and the existence of both of them in that place on that time was caused by "Serenity", the ship was who moved things along. There was complete self-decision in that. "Serenity" maneuvered the situation for that fight to happen. Not at all like a leaf who is being ripped from the branch by a wind and carried by that wind and gravity to wherever the currents may take it, completely dependent on other forces. And yet, "Serenity" got stuck in that situation by others, there was no conscious choice in the sense that the consequences of their actions, of taking River and Simon in, were completely not known to them.
And in Wash’s movement of the ship, as well - he took it between the fighting giants, the fire and the explosives and the heat. His movements were as random and as smooth as a leaf which is falling and being jerked around by much bigger forces, and yet thanks to that, manages to land peacefully on the ground, as if nothing was ever in its way. As if the randomness of things was what enabled it to get to safety. And that same randomness was what, a second later, killed Wash.
And he brought them to safety. He not only did his job, but in a way that a few minutes earlier none of them would have really thoughts possible. It wasn’t just "keep flying", no matter the odds that are against them. It was probably one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do in his life. And he did it. He saved the crew. He saved his ship. He saved his wife. He was proud of himself. That man who knew he wasn’t a warrior and in most places would be shot down first. That man who was willing to live openly with his weaknesses, and wasn’t afraid to love such a strong powerful woman. He was probably the most fragile of them all, along with Kaylee - good-natured, looking for the non-violent solution. And still, he chose to live there, on that ship, facing those dangers, with those people who in many cases didn’t even follow his jokes all the way. And he saved them. No, he was part of the whole group efforts to save them, he was part of that group, with all the differences and the faults. And there should be rules against being that much of a sap, shouldn’t there?
I didn’t have time to shed tears over Wash when he died. I had time over Book, but Wash was too sudden, and they all still had to fight for their lives, and Zoe, and I think my hand covered my mouth for all the following five minutes, but I just didn’t realize that. I only got to crying later on, when Zoe was snapping out of soldier mode and being a person who mourns, when she could.
Zoe just snapped into soldier-mode, full power on. I don’t think it was only because this was what had to be done, right there and then, for their mission and their lives. I think it was the only place she could go inside herself in order to not break down, right then and there. The place of the soldier, before Wash, the part she knew so perfectly how to play, she didn’t need to wallow in thoughts and emotions. And it was a part that took each and every one of her senses and thoughts at their full possibly alertness and all her attention, which was only for the best in that respect, at the time, keeping her from drowning, in a way.
Mal talking to Zoe, in the end. All business, both of them. They talk about the ship, but of course, about Zoe herself and how she holds up. But, maybe, also about her faith in Mal, her following him now, still, after Wash’s death. About their friendship. About her choosing to continue with him, having faith in something. She had to make that choice again, too. She followed a similar process, as well, because of what she lost.
River managed to give something to Mal, in normal conversation, in terms of a personal simple friendship gesture. She wanted to hear him say something. She gave him the place and the comfort for it. And he was willing to accept it from her. More than the actual words that he said, the fact that the conversation actually took place was what touched me.
Look, it’s no secret. I’m the worse kind of sap, I’m hardly even embarrassed by it anymore. And when Mal was talking about love ("Out of Gas"!), even though I could hear that little voice inside my head telling me that the Mal I know, not just from the show but also from the movie, wouldn’t ever let his words be that specific, I still couldn’t help myself, feeling that he totally earned his right of saying that, that even the Mals of this (yeah, OK, imaginary) world may take down the guards once in a while, especially in front of somebody who sees through all of them anyway, and just let themselves speak put the things that are important to them.
"Out of Gas" was one of the loveliest deepest love stories I’ve ever seen on the screen. It wasn’t about a love between a man and a woman, but that doesn’t make it any less true or the love it shows any less strong. And in that episode, Mal said "everybody dies alone", and that this was the only choice he has when his world seems to lose all the air and freeze and die. But in "Serenity" it seemed that he managed to convince himself, sent to the corner like that, that he still has the ability to be a part of something bigger, that he can still care for those other people, the ones who aren’t members of his crew, care enough that for him, from the inside of him, regardless of the facts who have remained completely the same, he’s a little less alone. A little less of a drifting object in space.
Believing in something bigger - what, no matter what? As long as it’s bigger? Being part of something that is more than yourself, having a purpose outside of just your own life, food and shelter, no matter what that purpose may be? "If nothing that you do matters, all that matters is what you do".
And my heart was so broken for "Serenity" - how they tore her apart, how they made her ugly and bloody and a thing of viciousness, how low they had to take her in order to survive.
And that was a big subject there, too - how low is it possible to go in order to get to a higher cause, how low do you go before you ruin that very own cause with that descent. The Operative and Mal, both, kept dancing on that line. Oh, and the good intentions behind such a low-point, too.
It’s like in that book of the "Narnia" series, where the people who believed in the ’evil’ god, but their belief was right and true, and they acted well based on that false belief, were told by Aslan, the good ’god’, that it was counted for them as if their deeds were done in his honor and in faith in him. What counts more, the intentions or the actual actions taken? When do good intentions stop being enough? How can you tell?
You have to believe for your own self, to drive your actions from your own personal inner core, not have it forced upon you. Forced-from-outside order and behavior will eventually break. There are just too many possibilities, too many paths for entropy to win. Each person has to fight their own internal fight, each day, failing and sobbing and choosing badly and dying and being ugly, in order for the world to not only keep going, but also grow and be better. And that takes faith. You can’t work on automat. You have to have some sort of compass.
The characters themselves, the members of the crew - they argue with Mal, the don’t let him boss them around without checking inside their own moral code for the way they see what they are made to do. But it’s not just that - he also already got their faith, their trust. It’s their own beliefs that make them in a way part of his crew. It’s the fact that they have such a thing, that they fly by them. And they may be different than his - he accepted Book, with all the obvious differences - but they were there. It was like Book was reminding him, regarding faith, what he was already doing without knowing that.
Giving River a safe-word, just as activating her, is a way less subtle way of the attempts to control that it seems the Alliance is playing with all over the place. And again, it was dangerous. She would have killed Mal, whom she later protected and worked with, without even knowing it. She shouldn’t even choose to stop. When she saved Simon and the rest of the crew, in the end, she was petrified and couldn’t get herself to actually fight at first, so in a way it seemed like ’activating’ her again would be a good solution, or at least one that would prevent all of the others from getting hurt. But when she started finally fighting, it was by her own choice. She was willing to try, to pay the price, to face those monsters. And she could stop on her own. She wasn’t a doll (Mr Universe had a doll!), but a real person. Still broken, but in a way whole.
Mal volunteered to the war. It was his own choice. He chose, on his own, to be part of that big tear that ripped humanity apart at the time. He chose to risk his life, definitely change them forever, in order to be a part of something bigger. And that choice led him to a path in which he doesn’t want to take part in anything ("none of this means a thing", what River read from him in "Objects in Space").
I loved it that Mal shot first, without any sort of hesitations or regrets. Just like shooting that cop in the pilot or throwing that man to the engine in "The Train Job". I loved how his search for faith - and not just for him, but also the way Book saw it, Book who knew him well and had a very different moral compass - was not in that ruthlessness of him, but in what guided it. He didn’t kill the Operative in the end, not because of the mental voyage he went through the course of the movie, but because it served no purpose. He didn’t kill Saffron at the end of "Our Mrs. Reynolds", as well, and it didn’t carry an impact, in pretty much the same way.
So that search for an internal compass that is an outer light, that belonging to something bigger, that permission he gave himself to believe in something again - it had nothing to do with the shooting-first, with the argument about the size of the wound of that inside-guy who helped their robbery. That’s just the way of life on the frontier, no other choice about that. So the question is what’s behind that, what guides that?
Book saying that he killed the ship that killed his people reminded me of his conflict regarding the not-so-Christian things he had to do aboard "Serenity" when he first came aboard on the pilot. His questioning of himself wasn’t over. He was still looking, still doubting, still trying to find the path that will be the most right, the least harmless, the most truthful. And he died looking. He died doing exactly that thing that Mal was fighting for - trying to correct a mistake, to find out if something was a mistake, through choosing.
Inara was trained in many ways. In "Shindig" she knew what to do with a sword, but that’s not the kind of knowledges that seems to be of any actual use to her in a fight. She didn’t raise a hand against the Operative (and when he hit her I was as stunned as when Early made her bleed in "Objects in Space"). Even though swords can kill (and, um, River proved that magnificently later on), she didn’t artistically - or any other way - faced the Operative. She used "things aren’t what they seem" instead.
Things aren’t what they seem.
I loved that the guy who was supposed to help ’save the day’ or ’save the world’ was a physically-week-looking young man, a futuristic geek, who couldn’t even get in touch with the world enough to have a real girlfriend, but a doll instead. And he even staged a wedding (a Jewish one!) between them, without even one single guest, but the whole ceremony. And he had enough equipment, enough looking-ahead and planning on time, enough strength to execute his plan, to actually play that key role in the "saving the day" process.
The guy whose ’wife’ is a doll, completely controlled and without any free will of its own, was the guy who ended up helping spreading the word, getting the free-will and lack-of-control message throughout all the planets. And the way that Mal was led to the backup system was through that doll, that will-lacking machine that he managed to use for his needs. So it was the machine who saved the day, in a way. But also, it told the Operative about Mal’s whereabouts, and sent him after Mal. And then again, the final fight between them, resulting in the Operative watching the message from Miranda, was what made him stop following his orders blindly and at the end saved the lives of the remaining crew members. So it was that technical creature, repeating mindlessly the dying words of Mr. Universe, who both helped Mal, risked him and saved them all.
Cutting the crew of "Serenity" from the outside world, all the groups of people who ever gave them cover. Mal’s issue was his disconnect with the world of men, and the Operative made it as worse as possible, cutting even the little connections that he did make, not leaving him a choice but to be isolated. And from that isolation grew Mal’s new faith, grew his new connection, not just to a few groups of people, but in a way to all its - and his - humanity.
I had tears in my eyes when River begged - even if only in Chines, without me understanding the words - to become stone, to not be forced to feel what she has to feel, to carry what she has to carry. She didn’t choose that burden, it was forced upon her, it was laid on her shoulders because other people thought that she could not only carry it but also work with it, and it’s not left to her to actually do that job. And now it’s part of her, she can’t avoid it, poor girl, in any way that isn’t either losing herself, the way it happened when she was activated, or just be broken to pieces and not hear anything else at all anymore, another form of losing herself.
It was like River was begging to be able to do what Mal was trying to do to himself - shut from the world, no connection, no bearing anybody else’s burden. He couldn’t do it, in his own personal way, just as much as she couldn’t in hers (very different than his, of course, but still).
There was a line that the Operative said to Mal, about saving the world, but not for him, that he is a monster, but he’s trying to save the world for others. And in a way it’s just like Frodo, who saved his world, but couldn’t stay living in it. And the act of saving that world is what made him disconnected from it, what stopped him from being part of it, for ever. Only, the Operative’s actions were what made Mal part of the world, and the failing was what made the Operative part of it, in a way (he got wet!), even if he did go and kill himself afterwords, nobly on his sword, so it’s also the other way around, too. He’s too out-of-this-world (imagine how many people he killed, of those he worked *with*, alone!). Objects in space.
Also, and this may make sense only in my head, it’s sometimes the defects that create the things we are looking for. For example, in crystals, which have a very regular and orderly structure, they can have certain characteristics and present certain behaviors if and only if there are flaws in their perfect structure, if instead of the atom that is supposed to be in a certain place there’s another one, a different one, if the pattern breaks. So we look for these flaws, these ’mistakes’, and we use them to work with those crystals. We need the imperfections. Not just as people, to be able to improve and choose our path, but also in other fields.
I don’t know to explain why, but I liked the things around the plot of the movie better than the plot itself. Does that make any sort of sense? I liked the characters, the humor, the personal voyages they were going through. I liked less - no, ’like’ isn’t even the right word - I connected less, maybe? The plot resonated less in me than the other elements of the movie. The very fact that I can separate that specific element is something I don’t think I could have done before I started babbling out here in order to try and clear my thoughts, from the pilot "Serenity". Hmm.
Maybe it was because it’s a world I already know, and am used to accessing in a certain flow, a certain rhythm? Maybe because none of the former ways to connect to that world that I had, all episodes of them, didn’t have such a galaxy-effecting meaning. Maybe I just can’t think big enough in a natural way, maybe I just think too small. Maybe I cling to that same thing I said I can’t write about now - the differences between the show and the movie - in the sense that I loved the small sort of scale the show had. Nobody was saving the world from apocalypse or the like. The world could have gone on just great without that little ship and its crew members (as far as we knew, I have to say that. There were still plenty of secrets that could have been ’big’).
I liked that about that show, I loved the ’everyday’ sort of feel that it gave it, of people just trying to get by, of that simple running of lives. The personal arcs could have been huge and significant and they were totally important, don’t get me wrong! But they were important to the characters, because of their connection. It was a "nothing that you do matters" sort of world, and it gave a million times more impact and meaning then to "all that matters is what you do".
Or maybe it’s just me, the baby, who can’t let go of anything she loved and wants to keep it all. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Oh, and even that grand thing that they did, it was grand in the sense that it was big for the alliance, it made them send that bit Operative with all that fleet and all those resources. But it didn’t change the world, there was no revolution, no change of order in any other sense than in the hearts of people. The very taking of the action was huge for Mal, of course, and each member of his crew, and the ship. But in a way, that big thing is invisible to the naked eye. It’s just one step in a very long road, and the taking of that step promises nothing in terms of where that road may end. So maybe there’s still that sense of the ’regular person’, of that actual world with actual obstacles to face, that I like. Hmm. Nilly Oct 19, 2005
So, if it’s OK to have flaws and randomness and not to complete thoughts, here is my humble contribution to that approval:
I never notice clothes, but here it stood out: River in blue, with all the others in much more "earth" colors. The Operative also in blue, as well as Mr. Universe’s home and doll. On the scene with the tombs, River’s dress is brown, though. An earth brown, not the dark nearly-black one she had at the beginning. She’s more connected to the group now, even in the colors she wears. Oh, and Simon occasionally wears blue, as well.
Both Mal and the Operative used a similar phrase "define ---".
The moments of quiet, focusing on River, where everything just turned silent and the picture was focusing on her, a single head tilt, her hair moving with her, her eyes - for me, it was like "there’s no sound in space".
Zoe’s dry wit (not risking the ship to rescue Mal, the amount of money they found on the top vault being enough to retire from their life of crime), just like all the way along, just like her conversations with Mal on "The Train Job" and "Ariel".
The look of River looking through, from the angle of the planets that she’s seeing, like they are the ones who are looking at her ("Objects in Space").
Inara piloting the shuttle when they left her planet.
I loved the shots of River’s legs, of her walking, hovering, dancing, feeling, with them. Who knew feet could be so fascinating.
Jayne hands Simon the bottle in the end. They are so different, but part of the same crew, and that means that friendly natural gesture, no matter what.
River’s "I’m OK". And then she really was. And she said those two short words so differently.
The Reavers’ ship, the first one who responded to them through the second voyage through the Reavers’ space, the one they ended up starting to fire at, looked like a scorpion.
Mal letting River on the bridge, next to him, near the instruments.
Kaylee giving all those advices to Simon. He rescued his sister, but he needs Kaylee’s help in her world.
They were stranded and left to die on the war. Now, Mal is accused of doing just that. Also, "leave nobody behind" - it was exactly that ’leaving behind’ that cost Mal his faith.
Jayne - the thug, who wanted to run things, who wanted to make sure that he will be the one who is saved - checking the seatbelts of all the others before buckling in himself. Because Mal told him. Because they’re part of the same crew.
Inara didn’t leave because of Mal making her, it was her own choice, from the end of "Heart of Gold". In the end of that episode Mal even tried to say something to make her not go, more than he ever seemed to be able to realize regarding his own emotions and how he sees her, only she then didn’t give him the chance. Obviously, in one two-hours movie there’s no chance of actually touching so many relationships and their past and implications, but I still liked the way it made sense, to both show-watchers and non alike.
The ease with which River disabled and ship and got to the bridge. She could do it at any minute, whenever she wanted, and chose not to.
Zoe’s hand on Wash’s chair, when he’s most concentrated and into his work. Just like in the show. And her hand shows her stress and strain, and her face is completely calm.
Inara taking part in repairing the ship, in giving her her name back, in what is probably an art she’s well schooled in, too, so also doing her best with what she has for the ship. Maybe she didn’t choose yet whether she’s going to stay or not, but regardless, she’s part of that crew, of that way of life.
My breath stopped for a second when River hit Simon. Not because I thought she was actually going to hurt him, I have to admit, but because of the existence of something that is so very important to her that she’s willing to hit her beloved brother in order to try and get to it.
The Pax was developed on what seems like an outside planet (far away, enough that it could disappear off the maps and not be on any trade route or the like). They went to a more distant extreme than the core planets, even though they were, if the other planets are any indication, on average supposed to go the other way.
The technology guy, who could spread a single feed to all the planets, was killed with a sword, the simple primitive weapon.
River’s movement on the bridge, pulling her legs on top of the chair, her knees up, to listen to Mal. So much like a child, and yet it didn’t make her clumsy, didn’t delay her in a second in piloting the ship.
Jayne playing the guitar. I would never have guessed, but it’s perfect.
The "just lying down" is the exact opposite, in every way I can think of, of "just keep flying".
I loved it that Inara didn’t decide yet what she’s going to do. And that Mal liked that. The possibilities. They’re both going to choose how to continue this.
The Operative losing it when the Reavers came - nothing else seemed to baffle him. They’re like the opposite of his control, he can’t understand them, can’t ’find their sin’, make their world better.
If Mal knows a poem, it makes perfect sense that it’s one about seamen. The "wild west" analogy to the conquering of new planets holds beautifully, in my opinion, but they are still called "ships", and there is still a "captain", and despite Mal’s stubborn lack of education, I loved it that he knew the poem (me, I wasn’t that educated, and I’m 500 years closer to that poem. I had to Google, ignorant me). He invests in what’s important to him, in what matters in his eyes. And his ship is, so even if that means the sort of education he doesn’t seem to like, he still has a connection to it.
The way River made a face to Simon when he thought she was being "Miranda". Such a little-sister-to-a-silly-old-brother sort of gesture: all the depth of their relationship, the plot point and the laughter of the audience, all in one face.
Allowing people to have flows, finding grace and beauty and truth in those flaws. That’s the way the show (and the movie) had its special effects done - visual to aid the idea?
I could have all these thoughts, about how the world of the movie was different from the world of the show, about how there seemed to be a few things between the show and the movie that didn’t match and even about how I could understand those choices and not be bothered by them and why. I still don’t want to have those thoughts. I still want to be inside the world I’ve just recently spent two hours inside, the characters I’ve met, their stories and personalities and choices. So all that will probably come, with all my geeky flags held high, but right now I still have too much sappiness in me, to mellow on, for going that way. Not just yet.
Oh, and just because I said it so many times before, I don’t think I can avoid saying it again, I love Mal. That dark, closed-up, butter, lonely, lost, closed-inside-himself, joking-to-throw-attention-off, full-of-emotion Mal. And I believed him, on every step of the way. I don’t know how to judge acting, I don’t understand anything about it. I only can say whether I believed an actor or not. And I never stopped believing him, all through his journey. It was the same with the others, but since the movie focused on him more, and gave him a deeper journey, I felt it most with him.
Stories about characters making a choice always get to me (being such an important part of my own faith). Just to name a couple of recent examples: it’s one of the things I love most about the "Harry Potter" series, one of the things I loved most about LotR. There’s that line that Gandalf says in the movie "all we can do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us" (I’m paraphrasing, of course). And that’s exactly what this movie - to me, of course - was about. At first they were chased, they were forced. They were cut from their resources, from the jobs, from their shelters. Then, after Book’s death, it was their choice. Not just Mal’s, too. And when they left the Reavers territory for the second time, after shooting them, facing that fleet, it was all their choice.
And I loved the last shot, of that part falling and that thing they’ll have to look for and fix and replace. If all the movie was about letting people make mistakes and have faults and finding the strength to look for the way to correct them, than that little mistake - played for laughs, I guess, because I laughed through my tears - was pretty much what the whole thing was about, in a way.