Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hanna (2011)

Title: Hanna (2011)

Director: Joe Wright

Cast: Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan


Sometimes, a certain director will make only one kind of film. Let’s say for example Martin Scorcese is known for making primarily gangster films and thrillers, John Carpenter is known for making horror films and Ivan Reitman is known for making comedies, well, Joe Wright the director behind Hanna is a director primarily known for making period films like Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Atonement (2007). The hyper stylish Hanna isn’t exactly the kind of movie you’d associate Joe Wright with, yet here he is, taking a stab at something different and yes, even commercial. But that’s all cool in my book because to stay in the Hollywood game, you gotta make a real moneymaker every now and again to keep the studios happy and let them know you can bring in the moolah in between your artsy period films. And Hanna was a winner, so we’re sure to see more Joe Wright films in the near future. In fact he’s working on his next period film right now, Anna Karenina based on Tolstoy’s famous novel. But how was Hanna, Wright’s attempt at making something stylish, modern, hip and ‘cool’?

 I have to say it went exquisitely well! This film tells the story of Hanna (Ronan) a 16 year old girl who’s been raised entirely in the wild by her father (Bana), an ex-CIA agent. Hanna’s father wanted to raise her away from modern society. She’s read encyclopedias and famous works of literature, but she’s never faced the real world outside of the woods, she doesn’t even know what music is. So one day, when Hanna is particularly anxious to experience the real world on her own, she tells her father; his answer? He presents Hanna with a switch. If she flips the switch, they will come looking for her. And she will have to run out into the world on her own. But the question quickly arises: Just who are ‘they’? And why do they want her so badly?

 So yeah, I loved this movie for various reasons. Number one, the symbolisms. The idea of an overprotective father who wants to keep his child away from the big bad world is representative of how a parent will most of the time try and protect their child from the horrors that this world has to offer, which last time I checked are many. The parent will try and keep their child in their nest for as long as possible, teaching the child values and a way to see the world, all in preparation for when said child has grown and wants to experience the world for themselves. When that happens, and the child decides to be independent of family unit, there is definitely a ‘switch’ that gets flipped, for you are no longer under mommy and daddy’s protection, now you are facing the big bad world all on your own with only your wits and what you’ve been taught to guide you. Fortunately, Hanna was taught well. She’s an expert in all sorts of deadly fighting skills; she’s a weapon’s master and an agile killer. In fact, Hanna and her father are both so deadly that the government will stop at nothing to find them both.

 The film criticizes the modern world with all its technology and machines. Hanna is raised in a world that is void of any sort of technology, no television, no music, no phones, no Playstation, no MTV. She leads a very Amish sort of life with her dad in the woods When Hanna first goes out into the world and confronts a girl of her same age, the girl does nothing but talk about pop stars and tv shows, a language totally alien to Hanna. When Hanna enters a ‘modern’ house hold, she is bombarded with all sorts of distractions and stress inducing machines. The radio blares! The television set tries to sell you something! The alarm clock sounds! Everything hisses and beeps and squeaks at her. All these mechanical contraptions are shown to cause a great amount of stress to Hanna who is only used to the chirping of birds, or the sound the wind makes when it hits the leaves in the forest. I loved how the film criticizes this aspect of modern living, how we are so accustomed to machines as part of our lives that we don’t realize how stressful they can actually be. Immediately, the beeping of a text message came to mind.

 But my favorite thing about the film was its subversive aura. This my friends is a film that absolutely hates the governments evil doings. The villain in the film is a government operative called Marissa, played with evil glee by the always awesome Cate Blanchett. Marissa lies, kills and cheats every step of the way to achieve her governments’ goals. And like many governments, she even relies on the help of gangsters, hired killers and low lives to get things done; which reminded me of my own government in my own country. When they wanted to take over the University of Puerto Rico to make life impossible for students what did they do? The actually paid ex-wrestlers to muscle the students around and intimidate them! Ex-wrestlers got paid millions of dollars to intimidate students! Just goes to show how governments will go to any extent they have to go to get what they want; which is exactly what happens in Hanna, a film that mirrors how many governments are behaving in the world. I love it when films do this, because it shows that these are not isolated incidents in the world, and that artist’s take notice of these events and express what they see in their world through their films, through their art. Hanna is just one of an increasing number of contemporary films that portray the government and its militant force as the enemy, as evil. If you want to watch another extremely subversive film that is one hundred percent revolutionary, watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), that one surprised me with its subversive aura.

 Saoirse Ronan whom I loved in Wright’s Atonement steals the show once again. Hanna is her film, and she dominates it quite well. The character of Hanna is portrayed with a naïveté that I loved. The world is new and awesome to her, and I loved the fact that she is so ready for it. A symbolism yet again. It is so essential for a parent to truly prepare a child for what really awaits them out there in the world, for when they are out there on their own; it’s what the parents have taught them that will help them make the proper choices when the time comes. If a child has been taught well, he or she will have a better chance at making it in this big bad world. If not, he or she will have to learn the hard way. Hanna was prepared in more ways than one, and so she faces the world admirably. But aside from the parents preparing you for the big bad world, it also speaks about how rebels need to prepare themselves, arm themselves, train themselves in order to achieve a proper revolution. Also, something can be said about the fact that Hanna, the revolutionary of this film is so young. The film speaks about how the new generation needs to rise up and take matters into their own hands! Governments are afraid of young people rebelling against them, because it’s always been the newer generations that complaint, it’s always been the young that tells the old “your doing things all wrong!” This is the reason why so many governments attack college campuses and education in general. We cant have lot’s of little Hanna’s running around the world now can we? Educated and ready to take matters into their own hands if need be.   

 Finally, Hanna has two other good things going for it: its stylish look and its music. And I have to mention both of these at the same time because Joe Wright directed and edited this film in a way that visuals match perfectly with the soundtrack. The beats supplied by The Chemical Brothers for the films soundtrack match perfectly with the beats of the editing of the film, with the flashes of light, with the action. Hanna offers us a brilliant marriage of visuals and sound. There’s not a bad thing I can think of saying about this film which means only one thing, Hanna gets a perfect score from The Film Connoisseur. Now go see it!

Rating: 5 out of 5     

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