Make no mistake the movie Passion play 2010 is not a ridiculous story about beautiful women with white wings. It is a movie about movies; it is a movie about movie industry. The main character is kidnapped, taken to desert and is about to get his head blown off by the shotgun, he closes his eyes in anticipation of this final shot. That’s where the director Mitch Glazer places his movie. The whole script develops within this moment, within this split of the second. For Mitch Glazer, with this gesture (closing the eyes) the main character enters the world of his imagination and dreams. This dreams and imaginations are not just passive act of dreaming but apparently according to the movie very active function of the culture. The movie is critical analyzes of the industry as well as of the whole culture.
The story is simple; the main character in the movie played by Mickey Rourke, musician, and bohemian character of course, after having an affair with the wife of very influential gangster gets kidnapped, taken to some remote place. In the last moments before he dies he closes his eyes and sees this beautiful but at the same time very opportunistic dream. He dreams that he founds amazingly beautiful girl on the freak show, with real, beautiful white wings. He kidnaps her from the humiliating situation of being the highlight of a freak-show. Than he brings her to a gangster whose wife he seduces as a trade off for his life.
Only in the end you understand that the whole story is happening in his imagination during the split of the second before he gets shot. It is a dream production of a man who know that he’s dying – He keeps dreaming, keeps coming up with more and more spectacular stories to somehow extend this moment, when he should wake up, open his eyes and see that he is dead, moment when the movie is over.
Very interesting element is when he finally manages to wake up, open his eyes, come to terms with his death – Only when the women-angel falls in love with him, risks her life and jumps after him from the high building and caries him away in the sky… only than is he able to hear the final shot… But now he couldn’t care less because by that time he is already on the safe hands of his beloved angel who is flying him straight to heavens. This is the last frame of the movie… this is where he opens his eyes.
Through this imagination he able to open his eyes to his own death. Basically film shows that the problem can only be RESOLVED in a spectacular imagination. Deeper is the problem more spectacular imagination should get in order to find its resolution. And that’s where film gets so precise in describing the modus of a culture in neoliberal system. Where everything, practically everything translates and gets resolved into a spectacle. The close read of “Society of Spectacle” by Guy Debord explains spectacle for not only as a popular culture, every day circus of mass media etc. but the core function of capitalist society.
This function now a day’s is under tremendous acceleration. Culture and its icons getting more and more extravagant in their imaginative creations. No wonder why lady gaga became the biggest icon of our times. but this phenomena is not limited to celebrity culture… Even the visual arts, that has always been very disciplined and self aware of image production, now becomes more spectacular than ever. In this sense it is indeed return of Baroque not as a style but rather as a culture of excess.
There is one more aspect in the movie, which analyzes certain values of “western” society that we all share. It is about so much cultivated subject of uniqueness and authenticity. At some point Angel-women runs to a hospital for plastic surgery to remove her wings. Than you see the hysterical reaction of the Rourkes character persuading her to change her mind. He argues that “she is what she is”, “she is unique” and this is what is valued. But what he hides is that exactly her uniqueness is what makes hefty tradeoff with a gangster who is after his life. Her uniqueness is the only value that could delay gangster’s revenge.
So what we see here is that authenticity and uniqueness is literally, a currency within the economic exchanges. And this is a very straightforward reference to advertisings and commercials with the same appeal to the generation of young people, their sense of uniqueness and authenticity. And as is the case in the movie nobody is really going to tell them that they don’t really have any value but commercial value and that the idea of uniqueness and authenticity meters only as long as it feeds the driving engine of production and consumption.