Loss of Humanity in Dystopian Movies (Part 1) | The Lobster


Imagine a world. Not like this one. Just slightly off. Grab an everyday object and then take it away. What would happen? Let’s take a look at this jenga. It’s composed of several blocks forming
a tower. We take away pieces and it becomes unsteady,
fragile and weak until it falls. Now imagine we did that with the world, our
society or our humanity. What if we took away some elements (building
blocks) and distorted them changed them. Let’s say we take away some every day common
things like… books, What if we took away something fundamental like the ability to
give birth? No longer having normal food supplies? What if we take abstract things like: ideologies, privacy, health, law & order? How would the world look like then? What set of rules would we have? What becomes acceptable and normal? What becomes marginalized and untolerated. Many books have inspired themselves by asking
these types of questions. Some have been portrayed cinematically, breathing
life to unique worlds . Some are gritty worlds we would never want to live in, where there’s
constant danger, fear and persecution. Others are more subtle with their approach. They’re almost a utopia, outwards they look
like something we would want to be a part of and one day hope to achieve as humans,
but the utopic beauty is usually superficial and hides a shadowy side of society and of
human nature. These worlds are created with a high concept. Perhaps by a key event that has changed the
world , but these stories are not about the events that created these realities.They’re
more importantly about how these external factors affect the characters that live in
them. This is what dystopian movies explore by presenting
a dark mirror version of the world or by fragmenting it and ultimately distorting it to view humanity
under a different lens. They create a context that helps show what
human beings are truly made of. It serves as a pressure cooker for human behaviour. In this new world, how would we act? What decisions would we take? How would our wants and needs change in the
face of these inhuman events? What happens when we strip away the things
we thought were necessary for our existence, what’s left? What will always be part of who we are? How much can be taken away before we lose
our human identity? Could it ever be lost? And if so…could we ever get it back? Some dystopian movie explore these themes
by throwing a wrench to the world and seeing what happens, but other movies are a bit more
clinical. They grab a human element and they magnify
it and exaggerate it until it becomes absurd. This is something we can see in the movie
“The Lobster”. It’s a world that looks much like ours,
but the rules of the world render it almost unrecognisable as if we were seeing a disturbing,
heightened, offsetting parallel Universe of ourselves. A world where human relationships are taken
to a severe extreme. It is illegal to be single. You must be in a relationship and it is expected
of you to be with you companion at almost all times. Even if you get divorced or if your Significant
other dies, you need to find another mate. You cannot be a loner. If so, you will be taken to a hotel where
you will have 45 days to find someone you share a defining characteristic with. If you can’t find a companion, well then
you will be turned into an animal. Of your choosing. These are the rules of the world that our
main character David has to follow. His wife has recently left him and he sees
himself forced (without protest) to go to the hotel to avoid a literal dehumanization. Now the interesting thing isn’t how this world
got to be like this. That’s never mentioned nor is it important
to the story.The importance is how these rules affect the world and the people that inhabit
it. -Now the fact that you’ll turn into an animal
if you fail to fall in love with someone during your stay here is not something
that should upset you, or get you down. Just think, as an animal you’ll have a second chance to find a companion.- We can start by observing how the rules have
externally affected the environment and the characters into a coerced uniformity (robbing
them of their individuality). The characters, the sets and the locations
are presented to us is in a aggressively normal way. It looks like our world and it’s supposed
to. The normalcy of the cinematography is deliberate. The minimalist portrayal of this reality serves
two purposes. One is to ease us into thinking this is a
world we recognize. The second is to make nothing stand out. Everything looks ,controlled, still and measured. There’s no camera shake. Even the moments of tense action are filmed
in a way that looks subdued. The action does not leave the frame. Same can be said about the characters. They all wear the matching clothing. Be it as guests in the hotel, loners in the
woods or as couples in the city. Regardless of physical clothing they all seem
to be walking around with the same layer of loneliness stitched to their skin. The art direction looks purposely bland, complimented
with a the drab color palette all forming a parade of the mundane so nothing gets to
stand out. This uniformity has even invaded their speech
pattern – Have you seen John’s leg? No
John would you… show your leg? Oh yeah… – The characters sound the same.There is no
cadence in their voice. No emotion behind their words which is odd
since they’re usually talking about relationships. They say Hello the same way one character
can says: – I killed your brother … I left him to
die very slowly… He may not be dead yet even as we speak. – and in the same sentence… – Would you like some coffee? I’d love some… – It’s very blunt and matter of fact. Even when they sing or dance it’s devoid
of life. The rules share the same particularity. They try to make everything conform. – Is there a bisexual option available? No sir this option is no longer available
since about last summer do to several operational problems. Hmmm I’m afraid you have to decide right now if
you want to be registered as a homesexual or heterosexual. – The rules are made in a way to avoid any grey
areas. Even something as trivial as half sizes for
shoes is seen as non conforming. – Shoe size Please? 44 and a half. 44 or 45 there are no half sizes. When David escapes to the woods to live as
a loner, he seems to have evaded the rigidity of the hotel but he end up meeting with its
extreme opposite with their own set of rules. – any romantic or sexual relations between
loners are not permitted and any such acts are punished. Is that clear? Can I have a conversation with someone? Of course you can, so long as there is no flirting or anything like that. – What happened to your mouth? He can’t speak. He was given the Red Kiss. What’s the Red Kiss? We slashed his lips with a razor and the lips
of another loner and we forced them to kiss each other.They were flirting, you know. No matter what David does he’s still stuck
in a world where he has to conform to a set of rules which deny him agency in his life. – Now have you thought of what animal you
would like to be if you end up alone? Yes. A lobster. Why a lobster? Because a lobster lives for over 100 years,
are blue blood like aristocrats and stays fertile all their lives. We can notice how the rules of the world have
managed to affect the characters internally by deforming their humanity, leaving them
to be blank canvases, defined only by their external traits. There’s a particular oddity visible with
the characters of the Lobster. In other movies it could be seen as a simple
omission or style taken by the writer but in this case it adds to the efforts of dehumanization. Most characters don’t have names and non
existant are last names. Let’s take a look at a paragraph of the script introducing us
to the other guests of the hotel: We see NOSEBLEED WOMAN, her BEST FRIEND who
stares at her, Biscuit Woman (with one hand tied behind her back), CAMPARI MAN, LISPING
MAN and HEARTLESS WOMAN, characters we will get to know later […] David spreads butter
and marmalade on a slice of bread with one hand and eats. Limping Man and Lisping Man come up to his
table. Rather than having names they’re defined
and reduced to a title or a character trait.This treatment is repeated to almost all the characters
regardless of importance to the story…Because in this world that’s what matters. Their basic defining characteristics are the
only way they can find a match and achieve coupledom so they can fit with the rest of
the world. – Im very happy because we have a new couple
they met just two days ago but they are very much in love an perfectly suited. They both have the same problems with their
noses. They bleed quite suddendly. [applause] – To an extent, it’s similar to our world. When we want to get to know someone we establish
things we have in common. Sharing the same like or dislikes in idle
everyday things or beliefs but in the world of the Lobster the director purposely grabs
this element in human nature and exaggerates it to a degree where people can only be in
a relationship by forcibly having something in common. Something as trivial as having a nice smile,
liking butter biscuits or being good with maths. Making the bond between the couples extremely
thin and superficiel. – My mother was left on her own when my father
fell in love with a woman that was better at maths the she was. She had a postgraduate degree I think wheres
my mother was only a graduate. My mother entered the hotel but didn’t make
it and was turned into a wolf… I really missed her. – Although not everyone in the hotel has an
easy time finding a match. It’s like they’re all playing an odd game
of musical chairs trying to find someone out of urgency before the time runs out. – New guest arrived yesterday. Yes I saw. I think I saw a woman with a limp. It’s just a sprained ankle. She’ll be waking normally again in a few
days. That’s a shame.- One of David’s friends in the hotel decides
to fake chronic nosebleeds just so he can be with someone. – [REALLY LOUD BANG] [SMALLER BANG] Is it coming out? The limping man opts for self mutilation to
force a physical similarity with the nosebleed woman while David decides to fake a behaviour
to form a connection with the heartless woman. – The last thing I want right now is a kiss
from a silly little girl [kick] [parents surprised] [girl whimpering] Don’t cry Elizabeth. You should thank me. Now you’ll have a limp and be more like
your father. The matchup doesn’t last long because she
quickly finds out that he has been lying about their connection after seeing him cry from
killing his brother. Before she gets to tell on him, he manages
to tranquilize her and escape to the woods to live as a loner. It’s there where he meets the nearsighted
woman Someone he truly shares a defining characteristic
with. – I didn’t know you were shortsighted.- – Do you have astigmatism too? Yes! But since they both live under the same loner
rules, they can never be with each other. This is where we get to see David have a sliver
of agency. He begins to disregard a set of rules to be
with her. Someone he’s starting to care about. – We developed a code so that we could communicate
with each other even in front of the others without them knowing what we are saying. The code grew and grew as time went by and
within a few weeks we could talk about almost anything without even opening our mouths – Although this is tested once the Lead Loner
blinds the Nearsighted Woman as a consequence of their relationship. When David finds out, he’s distraught but
not so much for her becoming blind but for them having lost the connection they both
shared. She’s still the same person emotionally
and mentally but the influence of this world is so strong in these characters that they
see the loss of this shared superficial defect as something that handicaps their relationship. They are now uneven. It causes David to hesitate being with the
Nearsighted Woman but ultimately his need to be with her pushes him to escape to the
city so they can become a couple. – [Long silence] Can I have a knife and fork please — Not
a butter knife a steak knife. Certainly. – The interesting thing we can observe is that
the director is not trying to say something about the characters.This allegorical tale
is about what we can find in ourselves. David wants to stay inside of a system to
avoid being lonely, this is what drives him, and in the process he’s increasingly disregarding
his identity but that’s just an extreme symbol of things we might have a bad habit
of doing in our own lives. We don’t outright conform to a set of rules,
but by osmosis, we end up following them. Have we ever avoided getting out of relationships
because of what other people might say? Or to simply avoid being alone? Have we ever feigned interest just to have
something in common with the person we liked? Have we moved in with someone, gotten married
or had children just because it was the natural next step that was expected of us? Of course these aren’t groundbreaking examples,
but they do show we can willingly give away parts of our individuality without the help
of earth shattering events or a strict invasive dictatorship. As we see David struggle with gouging his
eyes out, he’s weighing two things in the balance . One, risking not conforming and
breaking free from the suffocating uniformity or option two stabbing his eyes out following
blindly with the rules of this world. Dehumanizing himself out of the fear of being
alone. This is a story that’s meant to provoke
us.These unemotional blank characters are made to create an emotion in us. To make us question the everyday human behaviors
we set upon ourselves. What do these characters have to say about
us? Do we willingly give away our own identity?

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