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The Grey with Liam Neeson

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Darrell Cody
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It's fiercely nihilist if anything. As one IMDb poster summed up quite brilliantly when discussing the meaning of the title:

"Yeah, Lian Neeson wears a grey sweater throughout the movie, and the color is washed out of most of the photography in post production. There's also a lot of shots of grey indistinct exteriors, most of the men have either salt-and-pepper hair or ice in their hair that makes it look grey, and there's the scene where Ottway is yelling at God, and he stares up into the grey, cloudy sky.

It's pretty clear that "The Grey" is actually a reference to both the existential and emotional condition of man as he confronts death, and to the natural world's indifferent disposition toward humanity, and to the uncertainty and indistinctness associated with death. It's a loaded title.

The main wolves in the movie don't even look like grey wolves."

The poem supposed to convey the central theme of the movie

"Once more into the fray,

Into the last good fight I'll ever know,

Live and die on this day,

Live and die on this day."

is about willful, deliberate self-annulment, as an end in itself. Self-sacrifice "Kantian style".

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The poem supposed to convey the central theme of the movie

"Once more into the fray,

Into the last good fight I'll ever know,

Live and die on this day,

Live and die on this day."

is about willful, deliberate self-annulment, as an end in itself. Self-sacrifice "Kantian style".

No, it's not.

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That doesn't sounds nihilistic ppw. That quote makes the movie sounds like a Jack London story, who was one of the best naturalist writers (imo). The idea of nature being supreme was a very big idea in his works and some others like Stephen Crane (who could be considered much more nihilistic than London).

I haven't seen the movie.

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It's fiercely nihilist if anything. As one IMDb poster summed up quite brilliantly when discussing the meaning of the title:

"Yeah, Lian Neeson wears a grey sweater throughout the movie, and the color is washed out of most of the photography in post production. There's also a lot of shots of grey indistinct exteriors, most of the men have either salt-and-pepper hair or ice in their hair that makes it look grey, and there's the scene where Ottway is yelling at God, and he stares up into the grey, cloudy sky.

It's pretty clear that "The Grey" is actually a reference to both the existential and emotional condition of man as he confronts death, and to the natural world's indifferent disposition toward humanity, and to the uncertainty and indistinctness associated with death. It's a loaded title.

The main wolves in the movie don't even look like grey wolves."

The poem supposed to convey the central theme of the movie

"Once more into the fray,

Into the last good fight I'll ever know,

Live and die on this day,

Live and die on this day."

is about willful, deliberate self-annulment, as an end in itself. Self-sacrifice "Kantian style".

There is nothing about self-sacrifice in this movie, explicitly or implicitly, whatsoever. It is about man's will to survive and live.

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There is nothing about self-sacrifice in this movie, explicitly or implicitly, whatsoever. It is about man's will to survive and live.

Yes, and about how completely impotent that will is in the face of existence.

  • they spend the entire movie fighting for their lives, only to get slowly picked off, one by one.
  • instead of finding shelter or encountering humans, they end up at the source of all of their deaths, precisely what they were trying to get away from the entire time, thus cementing their fate.
  • the main character, in the end, concludes that nothing really matters but "the fight" to stay alive, without any reference to values, purpose, goals or anything remotely connected to the mind.
  • but the movie tells us that even that doesn't matter, because they all die in the end.
  • metaphysical importance is ascribed to death (the poem is but one reference). Death is viewed as a valid goal. (Similarly to Mr. Smith saying "the purpose of life is to die".)
  • I don't mean 'self-sacrifice' in the usual sense of giving up a bigger value for a lesser value, or even giving up life for some prescribed "noble" goal (e.g. like Christ), that's why I gave it a different term. I mean it in the worst possible sense: shutting down the mind, leaving it all to automatized materialistic self-sustaining action, and hoping for an early death. That's what his dad was about, it's what the poem was about, it's what the Communists tried to achieve in man (destruction of the ego), and it's nihilism.

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PPW, I didn't get that from the movie. What I took from it was that even though death was inevitable, it was unimportant when contrasted with life. The will to live was the central theme of the movie; even when the characters resigned themselves to death, they chose to focus on what mattered in the time they had left. So in other words, I couldn't disagree with you more.

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Hah, just check out what the movie inspired a commenter on YT (watch?v=ZZPFp19AOKI) to write up:

"Another day i rise to the fight

Another day i wait for the end

A day when i rest and never rise again

Is the day i long for till i meet my end"

It's almost eerie how closely it matches what I was arguing about. This is what people take away from the movie.

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Yes, and about how completely impotent that will is in the face of existence.

  • they spend the entire movie fighting for their lives, only to get slowly picked off, one by one.
  • instead of finding shelter or encountering humans, they end up at the source of all of their deaths, precisely what they were trying to get away from the entire time, thus cementing their fate.
  • the main character, in the end, concludes that nothing really matters but "the fight" to stay alive, without any reference to values, purpose, goals or anything remotely connected to the mind.
  • but the movie tells us that even that doesn't matter, because they all die in the end.
  • metaphysical importance is ascribed to death (the poem is but one reference). Death is viewed as a valid goal. (Similarly to Mr. Smith saying "the purpose of life is to die".)
  • I don't mean 'self-sacrifice' in the usual sense of giving up a bigger value for a lesser value, or even giving up life for some prescribed "noble" goal (e.g. like Christ), that's why I gave it a different term. I mean it in the worst possible sense: shutting down the mind, leaving it all to automatized materialistic self-sustaining action, and hoping for an early death. That's what his dad was about, it's what the poem was about, it's what the Communists tried to achieve in man (destruction of the ego), and it's nihilism.

PPW - did you see the last scene of the movie, which comes after the end credits? There is no indication that Ottway's character dies. That is left open; and frankly, with a knife electric taped to one hand and 3 glass bottles as brass knuckles taped to the other, I gave that wolf about zero chances out of 10 to beat Ottway. Ottway no doubt smacked that Alpha wolf down and then smoked him. See the IMDb trivia page, and note - after the end credits - you can hear Ottway's breathing AND the wolf, who is obviously dying, so, with respect, I think you stand corrected.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1601913/trivia

Go Ottway! Go human beings! "That's why we're at the top of the food chain!" Boo-ya! :)

I bet he made that wolf into a wolfburger sandwich.

Edited by Darrell Cody
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PPW - did you see the last scene of the movie, which comes after the end credits?

Even if he did survive, they didn't choose to make that a point in the movie, did they? No, his survival was irrelevant, the creators wanted us to know. They did, however, show us him preparing a tiny altar to his wife and kissing her goodbye, then putting gloomy music over it. His preparations for the fight were more in line with him making a last stand out of desperation than actually gearing up to win. But even if he did win, the rest of the pack would come back and finish the job, and I'm basing this on the pure viciousness of the creatures portrayed in the movie, not on general knowledge of wolf behavior.

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Even if he did survive, they didn't choose to make that a point in the movie, did they? No, his survival was irrelevant, the creators wanted us to know.

Movies are not about the ending. They're about what happens in them. And in this one, a group of people fight valiantly for survival. And they do much more than fight. Adversity brings them together, and makes them better human beings. In contrast to the scenes leading up to the crash, they show warmness, honor and determination.

The ending is left open precisely because the creators didn't want viewers to jump to the kind of conclusions you're jumping to. It doesn't matter whether he survives or not. Good movies aren't supposed to be defined by their last few seconds. Any idiot can make an irrelevant movie and add a poignant few seconds to it at the end. Happy endings are a cheap device for people who lack the talent to fill 100 to 150 minutes with inspiring content.

Edited by Nicky
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Wait a minute - I would like to know - who else besides me waited until after the credits to see if there was additional footage? Ever since X Men The Last Stand I do that, and it is paying off more and more. :)

And who else liked that he challenged God to give him a sign, and then nothing happens? "Damn faith! Earn it!" That is a pretty strong anti-religion statement.

Edited by Darrell Cody
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Movies are not about the ending. They're about what happens in them. And in this one, a group of people fight valiantly for survival. And they do much more than fight. Adversity brings them together, and makes them better human beings. In contrast to the scenes leading up to the crash, they show warmness, honor and determination.

I disagree with your premise that suffering instills virtuous character.

It doesn't.

The ending is left open precisely because the creators didn't want viewers to jump to the kind of conclusions you're jumping to. It doesn't matter whether he survives or not. Good movies aren't supposed to be defined by their last few seconds. Any idiot can make an irrelevant movie and add a poignant few seconds to it at the end. Happy endings are a cheap device for people who lack the talent to fill 100 to 150 minutes with inspiring content.

Do try to differentiate "jumping to conclusions" from "forming a definite interpretation". I've provided ample reasons why my conclusion is the way it is.

Also, and this is the last thing I'm going to say in this topic: ambiguous endings definitely do not serve to provoke thought, on the contrary, they serve to paralyze it. They are a cheap device of non-objective art, a trope whose proponents claim that it "lets the mind fill the emptiness with its own content", or in other words, making art subjective.

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To me, the entire film was human history in a nut-shell: it is only through never-ending struggle do we gain value. Sacrifice, pain, strapping on the broken liquor bottles to face a fight we can't win... doing it anyway... this is what it means to be a human being. Suffering doesn't build character, perserverance does.

It was beautiful.

Edited by Justin Benner
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