Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Frivolity: At the Movies

There are things that should be known, like history and literature and Einstein’s formula for the relationship between energy and mass. I have learned a thing that should be known so I am putting it here, in hopes that all of the Intrawebz will read and see.

Best Scene in a Movie Ever

I don’t say this lightly. The movie is called Immortal.


New York 2095; a good old sci-fi dystopic, with grunge and grey everywhere. Strange blimps float in the air advertising an organ sales company, where poor people can go to sell their livers, arms, teeth, ears (or other bits) for quick cash. And not only people. Aliens have arrived of all sorts from all over and the Big Company (a very nasty pharmaceutical-like entity doing secret research in collusion with the government) will harvest their parts too.

There is a resistance to this dehumanization of humans (interestingly, relying on notions of species-purity, which seems rather outdated) but they are small and threatened, as all good resistances should be.

Suddenly, a giant pyramid appears in the sky. People knock on the door or try to enter it and are zapped. Inside the pyramid are the slumbering ancient gods of Egypt, with their two god guardians, Bast and Annubis. Bast is a cat-headed goddess, a sort of wild mother protectress figure, who is also in some myths responsible for overseeing the immortality of the other gods. Apparently, their immortality is in question; hers is not. Annubis is the jackal-headed god of the dead. He guides spirits to the afterlife.

The pyramid is visiting New York because Horus, the hawk-headed god associated with the sun who created human beings, has been very naughty and is to have his immortality taken away. He has five days to find a human body to inhabit so he can find a special sort of woman to impregnate with his god-seed. He departs the pyramid.

Many things happen. One scene that I thought was the best scene until I saw the best scene shows Horus laying next to the man he has possessed (a member of the resistance, of course, without any icky alien parts) on a hotel bed, the two of them smoking cigarettes after having sex with the special woman who will eventually have a little hawk god baby. The man is arguing with Horus because he has taken advantage of the woman. Horus is not moved. He is a god, after all.

(Horus and the man appear separately when they need to talk or argue, which is frequently. Horus is a little surprised that no one really cares about gods any more.)

Meanwhile, back at the pyramid…

Bast and Annubis wait. They wait and wait and wait. What do two such powerful gods do when they are bored? In this Best Scene Ever, they play Monopoly.

Imagine it! Bast and Annubis sit cross-legged in the air, with the Monopoly board, money and cards floating in front of them. The shot begins over Annubis’ left shoulder. We see Bast looking annoyed. The camera swings around so both the gods’ faces are visible. Bast and Annubis look up from the board at each other. The actors (and, later, CGI folks) make slight but perfect movements—a raised eyebrow, the angle of a head—so that in about five seconds, we see these two gods thinking, “WTF? Stupid game. Humans suck. I hate New York.”

Just awesome. I love movies and have watched many scenes. I have laughed, cried, thrown things, reveled in beautiful palettes, odd angles and jump cuts. Nothing beats two Egyptian gods trying to play Monopoly in a giant floating pyramid over the New York of the future. Nothing.


  1. How is it I've never even heard of this movie? When was this cinematic gem released?

  2. Hmmm. According to the IMDB, there are three movies of that title: a depressing one about dying of cancer, the (inevitable) vampire movie, and one described as "half vintage, half '80s Hong Kong action, all supernatural!". Which sounds promising if you're in the mood for that sort of thing, but not what Ruby's talking about...

    Further down the list is a French/Italian/British co-production listed as "Immortel (ad vitam)", which is just the kind of title I'd expect to appeal to our Ruby. It does look pretty cool.

  3. Correct, vet! I watched it in English, though (shame). Buffy, I believe it was released in Belgium in 2004 but I don't know the U.S. release date.

  4. Ah, Bast. My favorite supernatural being, at least I think so. That sounds like a terrific movie, and I just added it to my Netflix cue, which is a way of committing to watch a movie in the future, assuming that the future is long enough.

  5. Ah, so Immortal (Ad Vitam) is a French/ Italian/ British co-production, judiciously tested first on the unsuspecting Belgian market! Why didn't you say so?

    It's an open secret in the biz that no one does jackal-headed gods of the dead quite like British Franco-Italians.

    It does sound like a good scene, thanks to that skillful presentation.

  6. It is a most excellent scene and, in fact, the movie itself is interesting. Lots of good themes: racial/species purity, old gods/new gods, and that, for some reason, it is OK to have a hybrid being that is a god or the result of mating with a god, but not as a result of human technology. Always the warning against playing god.