Sin City – is this what hell is like?

22/11/10 Originally posted several years ago – warranting a re-post as I was preaching on Matt 13 yesterday which contains the line “weeping and gnashing of teeth”, and it reminded me of this film.

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I watched the film Sin City last night.  It is very violent, but also very interesting.
Spoilers follow….
It is based on a four comic book stories which all interlink, through a common character or place. The city itself is exactly as described. It is a horrible place where the people are violent, the church, government, and police are corrupt, women are treated mostly as sexualised objects. One of the stories is about a former convict, who is very ugly, who is framed for the death of a prostitute (he had slept with her although he didn’t know she was a prostitute). He is gutted and angry that the only woman to have paid him any attention had been murdered whilst he was asleep. What follows is a violent rampage as he tries to get to the bottom of the issue. (The girl was one of many to have been killed and eaten by a cannibal, supported by the church). Anyway, although he uncovers the truth about the murders, he is still framed and killed on the electric chair. Two of the other stories in the film also demonstrate unsatisfactory endings.

In the midst of watching this world unfold, through the perpetual violence and corruption, I was yearning for something ‘good’ to emerge. I was wondering, is this what Hell is like: violence, lack of trust, corruption, continual broken relationships. This film emphatically shows sin for what it is: disgusting, depressing, with seemingly no end. There is a perpetual yearning with seemingly no end, and no hope

Good does eventually come in the form of the saviour figure, Bruce Willis. His character, Jon Hartigan, a police investigator, is just about the somewhat morally good person in the film (although he also has to kill people along the way). Near the beginning, he saves a young girl from a paedophile, the son of the senator, who planned to rape and kill her. In the process he dies. “An old man dies, a young girl lives. Seems fair”.

Towards the end of the film it emerges that he doesn’t die. He is kept alive by the corrupt senator in order to be framed for the girls rape, which never took place.  Th girl knew this and kept writing to him in prison. When the letters stop, worried for her safety, he eventually confesses in order to get out of prison earlier and he goes to find the girl. Unfortunately the  paedophile (who’s skin had been stained yellow in an accident in the scuffle at the beginning – he looks like a yellow version of the devil) follows him, and the whole scenario plays itself out again. After the paedophile is killed, the investigator kills himself. He reasons that only with him dead is the girl safe. Once again an “old man dies, a young girl lives”. A hint of redemption which stands out in an otherwise fallen world.
Is it a good film? Well, as it makes no illusions over the seriousness of sin, it has its merits. It is also beautifully shot, mostly in black and white with harsh lighting, with just a splash of colour. You feel like you’re watching an acted comic book. But it is Tarantino-esque in glamorising violence. And it is very, very violent.

I don’t want to see it again.

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One thought on “Sin City – is this what hell is like?”

  1. When I first (and only once!) watched this film, I was mesmerized by its style. I thought it was the perfect incarnation of movie and comic book, something like anime is to manga. The visuals were so stunning that I was just barely able to tolerate the oppressive brutality of the film’s content. I feel this film deserves a notation in the history of cinematography for its style, direction and presentation. That said however, I found it to be one of the most repugnant films I have ever seen. The misogyny is present in the air the characters breath. I was amazed to see so many well established actors associated with this film as I believe this represents a black mark on their careers. Wouldn’t it be great to see the enormous talent invested in the making of this film lent to a different less graphic, gratuitously violent, misogynistic and nihilistic work of fiction?

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