Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Serial Killers by Fincher, p1 Zodiac

David Fincher continues Hitchcock’s trend of making his serial killer movies about everybody but the killer. The latest of Fincher’s takes on this genre is the supposedly true-to-life story of the Zodiac Killer—the never truly solved case from the last century. The fact that it is based on the case files and that the murders were never solved sort of gives away the fact that we will not focus much on the killer himself, there is no way of telling his story. Instead, we focus on Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist from those days who became obsessed with the case and attempting to solve it.

The viewer (or this viewer in any case) really identifies with Graysmith as he first hears about the killer, begins trying to solve the clues, and eventually takes on the whole case. He never really solves anything. However, as the years go by he becomes more and more obsessed with the puzzle that this case affords. A couple of key events give him enough of an adrenaline rush to feed his obsession to the point where it consumes his whole life, but in retrospect they amount to nothing of value. In one case, he spends a whole date waiting on a call to hear if someone is alright. The fact that they never really were in danger doesn’t matter—for several hours there was the fear of danger. In another instance, he goes to question one man about another suspect but realizes once he is alone with the man that he is in fact a likelier suspect! Once again, he was never in danger—but the idea that he could be is a huge source of excitement.

The actual killings that occurred were important events for those involved and a potential danger for those communities during that time. However, the obsession that the media, the country, and people like Grayson had with the case made the Zodiac more of a cultural phenomenon than he should have been. We do the same thing today with all the dangerous aspects of life. Child molesters, global warming, fatty foods, and any other “danger” in life are a source of obsession that becomes paranoia. In this story, Fincher says a lot about how we handle evil. Our fears can give evil more power.

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