STEVEN SPIELBERG — MEN IN BLACK TRILOGY — 2012 (1997–2002–2012)
The general idea is a prodigy of simplicity: to turn a whole set of successful science-fiction dramas or romances or adventures into a full-blown comedy and make all these frightening things that make you dream of a world that will never exist like in Star Wars or in Star Trek hilariously funny so that the audience just never stops laughing. Steven Spielberg adds to that a direct allusion to Back to the future but within the science fiction space adventure genre and it becomes phony more than funny, with me grown up meeting me four years old.
The first two films are really funny because they remain within one layer of time. The third one becomes something different, nostalgic, sentimental even, and that breaks the fun to turn it into fear: the fear the negated past or the traumatized past may turn the future which is our present into a nightmare, a PTSS case of time travel trauma, something like PTTTSS, Post Time Travel Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Welcome to the asylum for deeply disturbed minds and brains.
The most attractive and fascinating aspect is the phenomenal palette and variety of extra-terrestrials you are navigating among. Obviously all of them are just the figment of the imaginations of a band of deranged probably young people generally called artists though there might be a few older ones who are more perverse than deranged, or perversely corrugated. You cannot find them serious. They are all of them just impossible mixtures of all kinds of living gadgets, except in the last one where one of them is well hidden in a human body and is deadly frightening, not funny at all.
The next element that is striking is the role of the Black man in black, just recruited in the first film, trained and excellently performing and competent in the second film and growing melancholy and sentimental in the last film when he sees himself when he was four, when his father was killed under his adult eyes and when with a magic flash the little boy will only remember his father was a hero. And of course it is his partner who erases the truth from the little boy’s memory, the partner he meets again in the present some seconds later at the end of the film. That episode brings the saga to an end because the fun has been drunk right down to the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.
We all, absolutely all of us, have rebuilt the image of the father we had, in pink or in black, in celestial blue or in fiery red, but what we remember of our father is nothing but a mental reconstruction, a Lego reconstruction. All the pieces are true, real and absolutely precise, but the pieces have been reassembled in any creative or traumatic way and that’s the image we have of the man we call our father. That’s normal. That’s natural. That’s the truth if there is one under the sun. Our memory is selective. In fact, we remember everything without fault but our conscious memory is the Lego construction I have just spoken of.
You may have in some drawer, or in your pocket, something that is attached to your father in a way or another and that reached you when you were three or four. This thing is attached to you and you are attached to it in an unbreakable union and yet you don’t really know why you’re attached to it and it is attached to you. It might be a sentence that comes back regularly and that makes you sick with fear or happy with instant bliss, and yet you do not know where it comes from, except that it comes from a long, long time ago and you still have it in your mind because it was a positive or negative trauma, and, mind you, there are positive happy traumas that have the same power as negative ones, except that this power makes you excel and not run away and hide under your bed.
If you want to have some fun in an environment of extraterrestrial monsters, with some dangerous situations and beings and many happy just in time right in time epiphanies and salvations, you have to let yourself slide into these hairy and over-twisted stories and forget about your bills and the fact that the heating does not work. You’ll survive since these crazy characters did survive.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU