Silent Hill Movie

Silent Hill MovieYou would think that a movie that has women as the main protagonists would be a progressive step forward in terms of the portrayal of women in film. With Silent Hill, you would be wrong.

I went into the movie with the skepticism of a fan who has seen many of her favourite video games (not to mention books) ripped to shreds when they reach the big screen. I had heard that the movie was pretty good, and I was cautiously optimistic over the female protagonist who didn’t seem to fit the “sexy woman who kicks ass” paradigm that seems to have become a requirement for female heroes. I was even more interested when it was shown that the other protagonist would be a cop who, it seemed, just happened to be female.

Despite the lack of the lead pipe (I know, how could someone say they were being true to the series and not give the lead pipe some airtime??), I remained cautiously optimistic as the storyline got going. The cinematography was excellent. It was fun to recognize the monsters populating the town. The plot was both close enough and far enough from Silent Hill 1 to bug me a bit, but I never got the chance to play through all of the game so I could take it.

But, then, near the middle I started getting a sinking feeling in my stomach when I saw the themes that were emerging. By the end of the movie I wanted to throw something at the screen. Spoilers and mild rape triggers follow!

I. The Characters

The characters in the movie were both the best and the most frustrating part about it. Women, not men, were the spotlight characters; from the main protagonist, to her helper, to the main villain, and beyond. It’s rare in films of this genre, even films that are trying to make a point about gender, for there to be so many visible women in main, supporting, and extra roles.

But this was proven to be a double edged sword; none of the female characters were just incidentally female; it was all part of a larger reaching set of tropes and symbolism which will be discussed in more detail later.

First I’d like to give an overview of the female main characters. While a reading of the male characters is necessary for a full understanding of the portrayal of gender in the movie, I’m focusing specifically on what was done with the women and therefore in the interest of space I won’t be discussing the men.

Rose Da Silva
Rose is the protagonist of the story, the plot and all the characters revolve around her and her quest to find her missing daughter. If she sounds a lot like a female version of Harry Mason, well, she basically is. According to the commentary on the DVD, Harry was being written and somehow he turned into a woman.

It was implied that the evolution was owing to the difference between film and video games. Even before I heard that semi-explanation, however, I felt that the gender switch had something to do with the anxiety that the West has over parenthood — namely that it is perfectly natural for a mother to bond so deeply with her child that she would do things that seemed insane to others, but that it is less believable for a father to do the same things.

Cybill Bennett
Cybill was mine and Ariel’s favourite character. She was unapologetically strong, was frequently talked about by the cops from the “outside world” in terms of her heroic deeds, and saved Rose more than once. She even seemed at the beginning to be a character who happened to be female, rather than a Female Character.

That partly changed when she met her end, though. She first goes through a fake death, which was disappointing to us both but because it was off screen and not horrifically violent we could accept it as a hero’s death and not a slasher movie death. But, later on it’s shown that she wasn’t killed, but rather trussed up so we could see her graphically burn to death for being a witch/aiding witches!! Did I mention it was graphic, as in watching her skin bubble and flake off her skin? It also became clear that part of the reasoning for making her female was to have her fit into the whole theme of witches, which I will discuss later.

Sharon Da Silva
Adopted daughter of Rose and her husband. She had dreams about Silent Hill and it turns out that she’s the “good half” of Alessa, sent out into the “outside world” years ago.

Alessa Gillespie
Alessa was teased by kids whose parents believed her to be a witch, raped by a janitor at her school, and finally burned as a witch by her aunt. Her hatred draws the attention of an evil spirit (heavily implied to be Satan), which leads to the creation of the dual-dimension of fog and dark that is part of Silent Hill.

Christabella
Christabella is the main antagonist of the movie. She leads the people who live within the Silent Hill dimensions and it’s revealed that she spearheads the movement to burn Alessa, which leads to the current predicament. She is also Dahlia’s sister.

Dahlia Gillespie
The insane mother of Alessa. She is portrayed as crazy, weak-willed, and not unsympathetic but not untroubled.

II. Symbolism

The two main themes of motherhood and witchcraft are female oriented and therefore undoubtedly played a role in selecting the gender of the main cast. Although not necessarily bad themes in themselves, they create a troublesome picture when they manifest in the movie and also the way that they juxtapose with the recurrent themes of Christianity.

Motherhood
Christophe Gans, the director, states outright in the origins of Silent Hill section of the DVD that motherhood was an integral theme. He stated that he wanted to show good mothers and bad mothers.

Rose is clearly the good mother — she blindly sacrifices everything to try to help her daughter, faces down monsters of both the supernatural and human kind, and never once falters in her chosen task.

I am loathe to call Dhalia a bad mother, although she is the only other actual mother portrayed in the film aside from a minor appearance of Anna’s mother. Dhalia has made mistakes — she failed to protect her daughter from the school children, the janitor, and even her own sister. She went to get help, but it was too late and her daughter ended up living in her shell of a burned body. She lives in her daughter’s twisted hell along with everyone else, but always slightly apart; she is shunned by other humans and untouched by her daughter’s demons.

Cybill, though not a mother, seems to fall into the “good mother” category, as the heroic story told about her over and over is how she stayed with a boy who had been thrown down the mineshaft by a man, his father if I remember correctly. She is clearly protective of Sharon from the moment she meets her, and even during her own death she is concerned about not having Sharon, a child, witness the atrocity.

Christabella is also a representation of a bad mother — though not an actual mother, she is aunt to Alessa and acts as a surrogate mother to the people who inhabit the Silent Hill hell. It is clear that Alessa blames her for what happened, and Rose speaks that “truth” to everyone when she comes back after having confronted the demon who teamed up with Alessa. For her crimes she is ripped in half by Alessa.

Witchcraft
Witchcraft was another running theme throughout the film, which is another reason for having so many female protagonists. Motifs of fire and burning can be seen in many different parts of the film, and any time a woman is shown to not fit the correct mold the response of the Silent Hill inhabitants is to shout “Witch!” and go after them.

Alessa is thought to be a witch because Dhalia refused to name a father for her. She is called “a sin” (whereas Dhalia is “the sinner”), taunted in class, raped, and finally burnt almost to death because of this.

Dhalia, who went against her sister’s wishes and tried to save her daughter, is an outcast, a blasphemer, and a witch. She is untouched by her daughter’s demons, and indeed in once place it seems that she causes a Pyramid Head to sprout up and kill a woman who has been calling her witch and throwing stones at her (done through a graphic scene of flesh being ripped off, I might add).

Rose and Cybill are both called witches when they first enter the church that is the refuge of the human inhabitants of Silent Hill. Christabella puts a stop to it, but as soon as she learns that Sharon is the spitting image of Alessa, she once again initiates the cries of “witch”. Cybill is burnt alive and Rose is stabbed in the chest by Christabella.

III. Female Fault

If it was one thing that this movie sent home, it was that all the bad things that happened in Silent Hill were the fault of women.

Christabella lead the burning of Alessa, which is what enabled the creation of the hell dimension. Through this she was responsible, and therefore at fault, for the atrocities that happened within. She was also charged with lying to the people stuck in the hell dimension with her and controlling them through their fear. She was portrayed as a tyrant who used religion to delude herself and her followers into believing in their own false righteousness.

Dhalia went along with Christabella’s plan and allowed her daughter to be brought to the hotel for burning. She is guilty of being an enabler of Christabella, and therefore shares the blame. This is partially mitigated by her realization of the error or her ways, but she was never fully absolved because she brought help too late — her punishment is to live in the hell dimension and witness what her daughter became through a result of her actions.

Alessa’s guilt began with her hurting a curious, but innocent, nurse who looked at her burnt body. It was furthered when she allowed her hate grow and culminated with her accepting the help of the demonic character in creating her own personal hell. She is revealed to be a moral monster when she descends on the church and violently (and graphically) rips everyone, save her mother, Rose, and Sharon to shreds.

Rose is also not spotless. She allows herself to be taken in by the demon, who enters her body and thereby enables Alessa to wreak her vengeance on the humans who inhabit her hell dimension. She therefore shares the blame for their deaths. Her punishment is to be stuck in the fog dimension alone with Sharon, who is implied to be (or somehow be influenced by) the demonic figure.

Cybill is what I would call an unintended consequence of this trend. While I think my above reading is more or less meant to be taken that way (although perhaps not with my particular spin), I believe that Cybill was in no way meant to be included in this trend. However, she was killed in the same spectacular way reserved for those who were not, in fact, innocents and therefore a tie was created between her and the others.

The crime that Cybill comes across as having committed is that of transgressing the feminine — usurping the male role of hero, despite it being in a clearly maternal context — and is punished by being burned as a witch. Her death is clearly meant to be read as a tragedy, and she is a sympathetic character, but the violence in which she ends and the thematic elements that surround the women of this movie do not send a wholly positive message, but rather one that allows blame to be shouldered by a woman who goes too far outside of her “natural” role.

IV. Conclusion

I in no way think that Christophe Gans, Roger Avary, or any of the other crew set out to create a film that was damaging to women. I think that they simply did not consider women at all, at least outside of the symbolism that female characters could contribute. And that, when it comes down to it, is the problem.

The women in this movie, though in many ways well rounded characters, were nothing more than tropes and themes to the men who created them. This is shown not only through the main symbolic themes, but especially in their graphically depicted death scenes, as well as the way that everything ends up being their fault and their responsibility.

The violence the women in this film are subjected to — both the actual physical violence and also the violence of their representation — is clearly problematic, but when perpetuated through such a casually thoughtless avenue as it was here, it becomes truly harmful. Because no one who isn’t familiar with the history of women and film (especially horror film), no one not used to taking a feminist lens to film, no one who is watching the film for sheer entertainment (and, let’s face it, that’s the majority of movie watchers) is even going to notice the messages being sent about women.

And if they don’t even notice it, if they don’t even have the opportunity to think about it, then how can we expect them not to somehow internalize these messages?

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By tekanji on January 1, 2007 · Posted in Abuse, rape, and domestic violence, Film and televison, Gender issues, Privilege, The Evil -ism's, Video Games

23 Comments | Post Comment

100littledolls says:

I’m really glad you wrote this. You hit on all the points that really bugged me about the movie. There were things that I really appreciated, like the cinematography, but ultimately I was left unsatisfied. It got to the point that when I was watching the movie, I just started to make believe how I’d do things. So it ended up that my mind wandered quite a bit.

The movie, for me anyways, started out close, but then missed it by a long shot.

I struggle like this with the series in general, though. I love survival horrors, and Silent Hill is no exception. Silent Hill 3 remains the best for me–Heather’s great. I really wanted to like Silent Hill 4 as well, Henry is so incompentent that it’s endearing, but I really hate all the crap that is thrown towards Eileen, it’s too much, and not thought out, like you point out in your critique of the movie.

Posted on January 1st, 2007

DNi says:

She allows herself to be taken in by the demon, who enters her body and thereby enables Alessa to wreak her vengeance on the humans who inhabit her hell dimension. She therefore shares the blame for their deaths. Her punishment is to be stuck in the fog dimension alone with Sharon, who is implied to be (or somehow be influenced by) the demonic figure.

I’m not sure that’s the intended interpretation. What I got out of the movie was that Rose — as well as everybody else in the movie, including Cybil — was already dead, that she was killed in the car accident (and that the denizens of Silent Hill died in the coal fires).

That’s not to say you’re not right about there being a violently misogynist theme in it. My God, are you ever right. Though, to be fair, it’s not like there isn’t precident for that in the games themselves; hell, anybody who’s ever played Silent Hill 2 will tell you that that’s basically the entire point behind Pyramid Head. (Except the games typically had the good taste not to go too far into the details, unlike the movie did with Cybil’s (second) death).

Christophe Gans, the director, states outright in the origins of Silent Hill section of the DVD that motherhood was an integral theme. He stated that he wanted to show good mothers and bad mothers.

I don’t think he did a very good job at that, especially considering that that’s also a theme in the games (well, Parentage in general, really). In the games you get the relationship between Harry and Cheryl/Heather in contrast to (evil cult leader) Dahlia and Alessa’s relationship, as well as Leonard and Claudia’s in the third game, relationships which were far more direct and better conveyed.

Posted on January 1st, 2007

Ragnell says:

There’s a lot of unhealthy symbolism about femininity in this film, but there’s a part of the horror genre that holds a pessimistic viewpoint where every element of the universe holds pure evil. The knowledge that women are the ones who screwed up is mitigated by the fact that the women are the only ones who hold the power on both sides of this conflict. The men are bystanders, henchmen, side-characters, love interests, and exposition vehicles. Analyzing this story inside the setting and according to the rules of the setting I don’t see it as damaging to women. Its not a slasher flick, a horrible graphic death is not a punishment for character traits but the unfortunate lot of anyone who gets trapped in the “mists” level of reality in Silent Hill.

Posted on January 1st, 2007

Darth Sidhe says:

One thing you forgot to mention is Christabella’s death in the movie — Alessa-as-demon basically rapes her to death with barbed wire. You don’t see much; all you see is a sort of angled shot from an underneath perspective of a darkened skirt, the barbed wires shooting up, and blood pouring out. It’s pretty obvious what that’s supposed to mean even if it isn’t totally obvious.

That’s where the movie basically lost all of its credibility for me. I was interested in the fact that the main characters were all female, but all acted in ways that protagonists of either gender could act, and suffered punishments that male or female characters could suffer (though I don’t know how many men would have been accused of withcraft, granted). Right up until Christabella’s death.

Posted on January 1st, 2007

100littledolls says:

I forgot to mention in my earlier comment how Gans had said in an interview that the main reason why the movie starred mainly women was because it would be more frightening. The whole women-are-weaker-and-are-less-adept-at-protecting-themselves trope. I think that was initally prevelant in the survival horror series, but I feel that characters like Jill, who was supposed to be an embodiement of that, ended that (for me, at least.)

I also think about the Resident Evil movies–Alice is a really capable, strong woman. So I don’t think they were looking to exercise that trope. I’d be interested in knowing what made them decide to make a character like Alice instead of one that was based on Chris or Leon. (Both of who, interestingly enough, haven’t made an appearance yet, even though Jill has. Though I hear that Chris will be in the third movie.)

Posted on January 2nd, 2007

Furikku says:

“It also became clear that part of the reasoning for making her female was to have her fit into the whole theme of witches”

Actually, Cybil’s from the game, and has sort of the same role, so the filmmakers are somewhat innocent there, though her gruesome death sequence is all them.

Gans stated that he’d originally wanted to make a movie featuring only women- hence the females in major roles, except in the tacked-on sequences with Christopher.

However, it still only deals with very broad strokes, and lacks the inricate subtlety and inner consistency of the source material.

I also felt that his reasoning behind making Harry into Rose- that Harry’s fainting, reacting with fear and horror, and caring nature were inherently feminine- was pretty offensive overall, to both sexes.

Posted on January 2nd, 2007

jlg says:

This really makes me glad I decided to skip the movie. I was writing a paper on the game series when the movie was about to come out, and both me and the professor were looking forward to it being a quality movie to make a comparison between game and film narratives. It was pretty awkward to come in the class when the movie turned out like it did. I remember cringing when I caught a YouTUbe clip of Cybil’s death scene, that it was so gory and terrible.

A note about Cybil in the original game, though. The player does have the choice of being able to save her, and it seems like the game team has always been vague as to which ending (the good one where she dies, or the good one where she lives) is correct. So the filmmakers could’ve chosen to have her live. And nothing about witches at all. Silent Hill 4 at least gets some points for letting Eileen have some sort of attack during the escort missions. She does get a lot of crap thrown at her, but it does have to do with the theme of passive voyeurism (Henry – and the player by extension – can only watch in his prison of a room). I agree with 100littledolls about Silent Hill 3 being the best – I could go on about how great a character Heather is and how the game subverts horror cliches and avoids what the movie falls into.

The addition of Pyramid Head is a real problem for the film, making it feel like they shoehorned him in somehow into the first game’s story because he was a “fan favorite”. What made the Silent Hill games so great was how much of it was psychological, that it tied in with the mental state, rather than some physical outside danger (like the witch hunters or a demon-Alessa actively doling out revenge). Silent Hill was a personal hell of your own making, while the film makes it out to be a literal hell ruled by Alessa. Pyramid Head had nothing to do with the first game, but was an enemy specific to the main character from the second game! James used the Pyramid Head to serve as a figure of judgment to punish himself, and be a sort of doppelganger for his crimes. The second game has a lot to do with James’s frustrated, repressed sexuality, viewed through Silent Hill’s nightmare dream symbolism (James Brooks had a whole lot on the “return of the repressed”). The game isn’t misogynist, because it criticizes James’ behavior – Maria, a “monster” generated by the town serves to tempt James by being a manifestation of what he selfishly desired, but was denied because of Mary and her fatal illness. (SPOILER) One of the bad endings has James figure Mary at the end as an antagonistic force, which results in James doomed to repeat everything by accepting Maria and repressing his crimes (END). All this is lost by trying to shove it into the context of the first game, and trying to make Pyramid Head a figure of revenge (both dealing it and receiving it if the monsters are “punished human beings”) or appear as a threatening antagonist to Rose misses the point.

Posted on January 2nd, 2007

DNi says:

You have to admit, though, of all the things in the movie, Pyramid Head is one of the few done well, despite his loss of context. In Silent Hill 2, Pyramid Head was something of an angel of divine retribution, and though he wasn’t given such a purpose in the movie, he certainly had the aesthetic (even better than in the game, in my opinion). To be honest, when he ripped off that one girl’s skin and chucked it at the protagonists, I almost stood up in the theatre to clap. It was just so over-the-top, it was a fun sort of gruesomeness (unlike the kind that befell Cybil and Christabella, which was just… disturbing).

But yeah, you’re right, half the fun of Silent Hill is in figuring out the meaning behind the monsters and concocting theories about the storyline. The movie was just too obvious, and way too haphazard in throwing in random monsters from the games regardless of their original implications. And then the way that they changed the Cult’s ultimate intentions, from an insane drug cult attempting to birth a twisted god into the world- to a hyper-xenophobic bunch of Christian extremists just made it less interesting.

Posted on January 3rd, 2007

League of Substitute Superheroes » Blog Archive » Ninth Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy says:

[...] Tekanji looks at the Silent Hill movie critically. Money quote: “If it was one thing that this movie sent home, it was that all the bad things that happened in Silent Hill were the fault of women.” [...]

Posted on January 9th, 2007

AradhanaD says:

[...]Excerpt of: Silent Hill Movie via Official Shrub.com Blog by Andrea Rubenstein [tekanji].[...]

Posted on February 7th, 2007

v says:

(i really enjoyed it..)

not that i disagree necessarily with your analysis, i just like horror flicks, and video games, and it was a real novelty to have a movie where all the main characters were women. i didnt know that would be the case before i sat down to it, so that was a nice surprise.

there were bits that didnt really make sense (well, quite a lot of it actually). but the monsters were pretty good. i watched it and it just felt like your average computer game based horror movie, with female characters. and i enjoyed that. it was a ton better than the last all female horror i sat down to (that awful caving one – i forget the title atm).

i am glad that you decided to write this though and im going to watch it again, in a less popcorny and more analytical frame of mind, and with your review as a starting point.

thanks again :)

Posted on February 10th, 2007

Jordie says:

Your analysis is interesting, but I still must respectfully disagree on some counts…

If it was one thing that this movie sent home, it was that all the bad things that happened in Silent Hill were the fault of women.

What’s your point? The majority of the characters in Silent Hill were female. The fact that all the bad stuff was the fault of women was purely incidental as far as I’m concerned; a side effect of having so many female characters. I might be inclined to agree if all the villainous roles were filled by women, but we have Cybil and Rose, neither of whom are really “spotless” but are still good, well-rounded characters. Besides, spotless characters run the risk of being superficial, two-dimensional or even Mary-Sue-like, and that’s far more damaging from a feminist outlook. Women aren’t perfect, and they shouldn’t be portrayed as perfect to suit a feminist agenda.

Your argument concerning the witchcraft theme confused me somewhat. You’re saying that because witchcraft was a fundamental theme, all of the female characters are now suddenly merely stock characters whose only purpose is to die as witches? Come on. In a cult obsessed with burning “witches”, of course gender is going to play an important part. That’s not misogynistic, that’s realistic. Men were never persecuted as witches — to change this in the interest of avoiding gender as a pivotal issue would be historically inaccurate and just plain wrong.

I also feel it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Cybil is motherly or maternal. Yes, the motherhood theme is fairly obvious, but to put all of the characters under an umbrella of “mother” seems wrong. I honestly couldn’t think of a woman less maternal than Cybil — rescuing a boy who had been chucked down a mine shaft doesn’t make her a mother, it makes her human. In saying that he wanted to portray good and bad mothers in his film, I don’t think Gans meant for us to slot ALL of the female characters into those categories.

Coming back to the theme of motherhood, I couldn’t agree more on the Harry/Rose point. I don’t like this idea that mothers bond more strongly with their children. I find it to be incorrect and offensive. But I’m willing to forgive Gans for it, since I don’t get that impression from the characters; Rose wasn’t written exclusively as a mother. Her adopted daughter might have been the reason she went to Silent Hill to begin with, but she’s far from a two-dimensional wife-and-mother character and for that I applaud Gans. Bottom line, a filmmaker refreshingly succeeds in presenting characters that are female, rather than female characters. I believe in the feminist movement and have ideals that are grounded in feminism, but I also believe in picking my battles and it is for that reason I don’t view everything through a feminist lens. But that’s just me.

Posted on April 14th, 2007

Eroc says:

The movie in general was horribly done and DID NOT follow the game’s layout like they plan TO DO in the movie Silent Hill 2 when it comes out. They go from a freelance movies script in the first movie to ACTUALLY following the game’s layout in the second one, when it come sout. Also, Cybill lived and escaped Silent Hill forever with Harry and Cheryl in the game. The way Cybill died in the movie was not only ridiculous but completly ruined the storyline becuase Cybill saved Rose many times. In pre-production of the movie they should of noted that Rose should of saved the Police Officer before she was killed to return the favor. All I can say about this is that when Silent Hill 2 comes out they better regonize Officer Bennett and BETTER FRIGGIN’ mention the massive search done by Brahams Police to find both Cybill and Rose’s daughter, which took place 5 days after the three of them went missing.

Posted on May 8th, 2007

Deoridhe says:

This is quite a bit after the fact, but I felt the need to respond to this:

Men were never persecuted as witches

Actually, this is false. While in most of Europe and the USA women were persecuted more, in Iceland men were. The form of killing was, I believe, hanging. Men were also persecuted in other places, but it is true that outside of Iceland women bore the brunt of the abuse, and it is undeniable that both the persecution of women as witches and their death via fire are the common mythological images people still hold to, even though the historical events were often quite different. I personally think including men in a “persecute the witches” trope, as well as including non-standard imagery associate with such, would add a lot.

I hope this won’t be seen as derailing.

Posted on June 19th, 2007

Nick says:

I just finished watching the movie, and I agree with Rangell who pointed out:

“The knowledge that women are the ones who screwed up is mitigated by the fact that the women are the only ones who hold the power on both sides of this conflict. The men are bystanders, henchmen, side-characters, love interests, and exposition vehicles. Analyzing this story inside the setting and according to the rules of the setting I don’t see it as damaging to women. Its not a slasher flick, a horrible graphic death is not a punishment for character traits but the unfortunate lot of anyone who gets trapped in the “mists” level of reality in Silent Hill.”

Your review seems focused on the women being the main characters and portrayed poorly. I disagree and point out the cop as the “role-model” woman protagonist that set an example of what a “good mother” should have been like. Sure her death was gruesome, and I didn’t want her to die, but that’s sort of the point of the genre of movie this was, and anyone should have known that when electing to see it. If we felt nothing for the character, it wouldn’t have mattered if she lived or died (similar to the girl who got her skinned ripped off).

Oh, and when iw atched this film, it didn’t matter to me that all the main characters were female or not. I didn’t really notice. I think you focus too much on gender in your analysis.

Also, I agree that they were already dead. And her choice on helping the child’s darkside was one where you didn’t know what the right choice was. That was great. Her reasons were “satisfaction and revenge” and she got just that. If she had returned happily with her husband, then it wouldn’t make sence. Instead it feels like she was left in limbo, possibly choosing the wrong choice.

Posted on June 22nd, 2007

Greg D says:

Lots of different responses here. Interesting to read.

But I say you you, those who disagree with the writer:it doesn’t really matter if you agree with her or not. Her conclusions are her own…many people who are not femenists will watch this movie and have their own conclusions, and many people that are will want this movie and have their own conclusions…conclusions that might not match Andrea’s.

But in the end, that’s not the important part. Andrea’s post ends with an important point:the biggest problem is not talking about these things indigenous in culture and pop culture. To shine a light about them. To talk about the things that trouble people, instead of ignoring them, or saying they aren’t important. The feelings and thoughts of all rational and reasonable people have value, and should be heard, and talked about.

I’ve been recently reading a lot of different femenist writings. I don’t agree with all of them, but the important thing is that I’m learning how other people see things, how they see things I don’t. And I’m talking with people about these things I learn, and striving, through learning and talking, to be a better person.

There is no one right answer. But an answer that one comes to without thinking and talking and more thinking is likely only one that prepetuates the problem. And there *is* a problem in our culture.

It’s important to say that out loud.

Posted on July 4th, 2007

Kat says:

First off I have to say I’ve loved the series of games since the day I first played them. I also liked the movie but only when I think of it as a movie not fully based on the game. I agree with everyone about making the main character female as being offensive in many respects. There are many other reasons why this movie offended me tho. One of them is that the story in the movie currupted and destroyed the possibilities of the other 3 games. Key point 1: Ash instead of snow. From what I could tell from the many times I’ve played all of them is that the snow and fog is supposed to represent the fog of ones mind and the cold of ones guilt. Key point 2: Silent Hill couldn’t have been abandoned as 2, 3, 4 obviously point out. As the characters are trapped in this other worlds of Silent Hill, the town is still a very productive and inhabited resort town. None of the games mention the town being abandoned. In fact, in 2 I believe (been a long time since I played that one) James finds a newspaper that states during the time that he’s wandering the rest of the town is trying to figured out if the weird behaviour of some of its inhabitants is due in part to drugs. Key point 3: I kind of remember that the child Cheril was a part of some dark occult dealing with hell directly and the child being the key in raising Samahel and that Henry was basicly interfering with their ritual. The part in the interview on the DVD that offended me the most was when he said he was an avid gamer and was keeping true to the most basic aspects of the game but clearly ignored the three key points that I mentioned. The biggest being that the town was still inhabitated as a nice peaceful resort town. I’ve looked at many posts here and many articles about this movie and never once found anything about the inaccuracy about the town being inhabitated or that it was, I thought, really supposed to be snow. I hope I’m not wrong about this and somehow have weirdly remembered every one of the games wrong but if I have please let me know so that I don’t make this mistake again.

Posted on October 18th, 2007

Kat says:

I just had to come back and add this website just to solidify my point of the town still being productive as far as the game goes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Hill

The movie has some how made everyone forget that the town was not abandoned and was not covered in ash. This movie, in my opinion, is the biggest example of why movies shouldn’t me made from a game. At least not by someone who isn’t a true fan of the game and have at least done their full research. At least Silent Hill 5 is still under Konami’s supervision and will be perfectly “true to the basics”. Also I’d like to add that 4 was not originally supposed to be a silent hill game but at the last minute they decided to make it so and changed some of the story, brought in some old fav creatures, and added parts to tie into the town. I still think it was a great addition even tho it was not actually in silent hill. The feel and style was still true to the game.

Posted on October 20th, 2007

BrokenHierophant says:

Very interesting article. I enjoyed the movie though I though they went too far into left field with some things. In the game Alessa was revered despite being tormented. She was meant to birth a god that could bring about paradise on earth. Everyone referred to her as “the holy one” and suffering was merely a needed ingredient in the ritual. In the movie it switched gears. Alessa is not merely thought of as a witch by the children, she is thought to be a witch by the adults of silent hill as well. Her burning is thus a punishment for being damned. This takes the whole reverence aspect out of the story and plays on a very tired theme of women being persecuted by the church.

I noticed in your analysis you say there are many things that indirectly degrade women. I both agree and disagree. Yes the main antagonists causing problems are women but then again the heroic protagonists that are determined to make the wrong things right are also women. In this way women are portrayed in full circle. Some are good. Some are evil. None are perfect. Rose and Cybil were not to blame for anything really. One was merely concerned for her daughter and through bringing Sharon to Silent Hill Alessa was able to find peace and get her revenge. Cybil tagged along out of concern for both Rose and Sharon. She was not at fault for any wrong doings in the movie at all and yet Gans chose to make her a matyr. Personally I did not think the scene had to be so dang graphic though.

If anything I felt as if the movie was more chauvanist versus men. The husband of Rose is oblivous and merely stumbles around. Pyramid head is likely the coolest male lead and yet when you think about it despite the scary head gear and sword he has a glistening well toned physique. He’s there for both the violence appeal and sex appeal making him more or less a homicidal Chip N Dale dancer. In SH 2 he has meaning and represents Jame’s sexaul frustration and desire to punish himself for killing his wife. Yet in the SH movie Pyramid head is just tantalizing eye candy. Poor guy might as well be a man whore. He’s there to jack up the ratings and sate the fans, nothing more.

On top of all that “Harry” is turned into a woman as Gans gives a weak hypothesis that fathers cannot bond as deep with their children as mothers can. That very statement lights up with sexism against men in my opinion.

Posted on June 30th, 2008

Rick Klemczewski says:

You make some interesting points. I literally just finished a second viewing of silent hill 10 minutes ago. I disagree with the conclusion immensely. For starters the film is really incompetent and strives to be nothing more than an artful blockbuster. I agree that the women were not written with much regard but what was in that film? I hate to shout double standard but quite frankly you can apply what you said about this film to any film really. For example, let’s switch it around. How many films are men the evil ones and responsible for the horrible things that happen? They’re countless, and no one says a word about it. Look at Dr. Strangelove, here is a film contains almost all men, they’re either insane or so stupid that they cause the end of the world. Women have had terrible treatment in hollywood in terms of film roles. But really Silent Hill is about a weak of an example as anything i’ve ever heard. Silent Hill as a film doesn’t really seem to recognize what is good or evil. We know the monsters and the cult are evil but the main character unleashes the monsters on the cult so she’s guilty too. But is staying in the hell dimension really a direct punishment of bringing alessa to them? Would she have been able to get out if she did nothing? It’s a bit presumptuous to say being trapped in the dimension was punishment I mean she got her daughter back. What would be better? Hell dimension with your daughter, or forget your daughter and go back to Sean Bean? This film strives deeply to be in essence a nightmare of hell. Everything in this film is a gimmick, cliche, or decoration for the nightmare that is silent hill. The factories are pointless and useless except for the fact that they shoot fire and look creepy. Cybill and Rose act incredibly composed and not very surprised that they are basically in hell. Cybill almost doesn’t seem to notice and just goes with whatever. Who would act this way? Forget thoughtful portrayals of women this film doesn’t even offer realistic portrayals of human beings! So how can argue that this film is harmful to women? I view this film as nothing more as nightmare, people go along with it because accept the nightmare just as we do when we’re in them. I think christian fundamentalists have a way more legitimate argument to be offended than women do. Please write me back, I’d love to talk more

Posted on August 31st, 2008

Jessica says:

I have to strongly disagree that women are badly portrayed in this movie, as pretty much all the main characters are female and they run the gamot of good, bad, and somewhere in between. Saying ‘women are responsible for all the problems’ is absolutely ridiculous because all the characters are female in the first place. Rose is a woman, and she fights tirelessly for her child. Yeah, she helped Alessa to get her revenge, but she also agreed to be Alessa’s new mom after the soul recombined and Alessa was reborn into Sharon’s body. Cybil was also a woman, but she was considered to be a hero. She had saved a child thrown down a mine vent, she saved Rose several times, she stood up to the cultists- even in her last minutes, she comforted a frightened Sharon, though she didn’t have to. All this makes it appear that your attempt to claim the movie casts women in a bad light are just complaining for the sake of complaining and looking for insult where there is none.
I also find it funny that you base a lot of this stuff on Alessa making a deal with the “devil”. According to the director, the movie isn’t Christian and is based on the idea that people have aspects of both a god and a devil within them. Metaphorically, the creepy little girl represents the devil- and Sharon is supposed to represent God. But literally, there is no devil seen anywhere in the movie- just the manifestation of the dark side of Alessa’s soul. At the end, Rose takes home a recombined version of Alessa to raise her as her own child, a pretty heroic thing to do if you ask me.

Posted on June 24th, 2009

Nefer says:

You make some very interesting points and good observations, but if you are going to take this sort of angle on your analysis, I would strongly recommend you actually play the games first! You mention you only played partly through the first. If you take the time and play the rest (the second especially) you may find some of your opinions wavered and perhaps some new observations to compare to the movie as well!

Posted on December 3rd, 2010

tekanji says:

Nefer: Actually, I have played all the way through the second. Just because I didn’t finish the first game is no reason to assume that I hadn’t played through any of the other games, especially because I state quite clearly that I’m a fan of the series. It’s also no reason to assume that I don’t know anything about the parts I didn’t get to play in the first one; I may not know all the details but I certainly know the meat of the game and, furthermore, have read several analyses of it.

I should also mention that I had completed the second game before I saw (and therefore reviewed) the movie. So your assertion that my opinions might “change” is not the case.

Posted on December 5th, 2010