Thursday, October 18, 2007
The Close-Up as Revelation: The Moral Imperative
BLOGGER'S NOTE: This post is part of the Close-Up Blog-a-thon being coordinated by Matt Zoller Seitz at The House Next Door.
Why is this man smiling?
Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), the wisecracking hero of Martha Coolidge's Real Genius has just suffered the biggest disaster of his academic career. The laser he and his best buddy Mitch have staked their grades on has just disintegrated, courtesy of their archenemy Kent's shenanigans. The cocky protagonist is devastated by the loss, for he knows his future is gone with the wind.
In fact, mere seconds before this moment was captured, Chris looked like this —
— and had a more natural reaction to watching his college degree burn up with that laser: He kicked and punched the walls in the common area of the dormitory, knocking open the freezer door and freeing the means to his salvation. As he stares down at the cylinder of frozen nitrogen rolling across the floor, his dour expression transforms from misery to exaltation. Coolidge keeps her camera on Chris' face as it registers the epiphany that will allow him to graduate AND ensure that his former laser did not die in vain. It plays out in real time, and Kilmer's eyes reflect his hallelujah moment. You can see his lost confidence returning — this is how Chris Knight Got His Groove Back. He starts to giggle, then launches into a dance of pure joy. He runs into Lazlo, the guy who lives in his dorm room closet (don't ask) and says "I'm going to graduate!" He's also going after Kent, because as he explains to Mitch, "It's a moral imperative to get revenge on Kent."
For more on Real Genius, go here.