A few nights ago I watched the Liam Neeson movie The Grey. It was centered around a group of men that worked on a drilling-rig whose plane crashed in the Alaskan wilderness. It was winter time and a pack of wolves had been pursing them from the moment the plane went down. Sounds like a suspenseful movie but nothing to get all worked up about, right?
So why am I so angry about this?
I’m aware of what types of movies I can and cannot handle, survivalist movies are among those that should be avoided. It’s not that I expect a wolf to show up on my doorstop or anything, but the story itself will end up haunting me for days. What would I have done in that situation? Would I have even survived the first night? What if there was no Liam Neeson character and I was the leader instead? Then I proceed to go over every instance in the movie worthy of discussion and go through all the possible outcomes in my head, first using my own personality, then as the separate characters; it’s exhausting.
If you’ve not seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, turn away now…
Let’s cut to the chase: no one survives and they all die. What the hell?! I became so invested in the storyline, that I feel cheated. I was left with no lesson, no moral to the story, no purpose; my mind can’t compute that!
The character who was an ex-convict and kept acting like Mr. Tough-Guy, admits to his fear and stops being a jerk, but then he just gives up. That fighting spirit leaves him and he utters, “I just had the clearest thought: I give up.” then he surrenders on the shore of the creek and waits for the wolves to come eat him. Granted he did have a severely injured leg, but…just…*sputters in disbelief*
The others mostly died by accident, which is understandable, especially given the conditions they were trying to survive in. Liam never stopped fighting though, and he was the one who had no one to go back to; that was my saving grace that pulled me through the movie.
It’s at this point in my contemplation regarding the movie, that I have to try and ground the story for myself in fiction, so that maybe I can work through it and learn to let it go. So I nit-pick at the various incidents that weren’t very likely, to try and find all of the loopholes. I won’t go into each of them, but I’ll include this one:
During the daylight hours and a break in the snowstorm, the group finds themselves at a dead-end on a cliff. They feel that they can’t go back the way that they came so they tie together all of their extra clothing to make a homemade rope of sorts. They then hook the rope to a man who takes a running leap across the dizzying heights of the ravine, to land in the tree tops of the tall pines farther down on the other side. They then each take turns shimmying across the rope; just thinking about it makes me seize up!
(I’m scared of heights)
The rope breaks for the last person, of course! (poor Durmot Mulroney, with his cute glasses and baseball cap) He falls into the trees, landing violently on the ground, where a group of wolves just happen to be waiting to carry him away.
After the movie was over I chastised my husband and parents, who picked the movie, then I went to bed and cried. I wasn’t sad, I just had to do something with all of that adrenaline. I need to find out why this movie bothered me so much, aside from the cruel trick of telling me a story that had no resolution and the glaring loopholes in the storyline that were clearly used as plot tools. I’m not really scared or overly saddened, but angry.
Why am I so angry about this?
I’m angry at myself for watching a movie that I knew had the potential to mess with me and possibly cause me to have nightmares.
I’m angry at myself for putting my laptop away and giving my full attention to the movie because I felt guilty for not participating in the family activity that was happening around me (this is a recurring issue with my mother).
I’m angry that the character who seemingly had nothing to live for (his wife died after suffering from disease and he even contemplated killing himself before they left the location at the drilling-rig) was the only one who didn’t give up.
I’m angry that the moment he finally fell down upon his proverbial knees and begged the God he wasn’t even sure he believed in anymore for help, none came. Not that demanding divine intervention will suddenly bring it forth, but I expected some form of reassurance, I guess. Instead he became angry and declared he’d just do it himself then! Which was kind of funny…
And I’m angry that this movie made me despise wolves, which I’ve always had an admirable respect for.
*a poem I wrote about wolves eons ago kept coming to my mind this week, causing me to scoff at the very idea that I ever even wrote about them.
After everything Liam’s character went through, in the end he accidentally ends up at their den, facing down the Alpha wolf. The Alpha that looks more like a werewolf than anything, all black and the epitome of evil.
Was that the veiled purpose behind it all? Liam having to fight his metaphorical demons that have been chasing him since his wife’s death, in the form of this Alpha wolf? and no matter how knowledgeable Liam was in the behaviors of wolves, he still couldn’t keep his own “pack” safe.
Hmm, this is worth considering.
In the beginning there was a very touching scene where Liam sat by one of the men who was dying, having been fatally injured in the crash. Liam was very calm and soothing, while the man was in a panic. He urged the man to think of the person he loved the most and surround himself with the vision of that person, so that he could see them, smell them, etc. Then let that wash over him and take him away (that is the scene that made me pay attention. I couldn’t turn back to my laptop after witnessing that).
That scene was hinted at later when Dermot’s character was dying at the base of the tree. In the Liam character’s last moments, as he prepared to die fighting the hound from Hell, he surrounded himself with the memory of his wife’s last words serenely telling him not to be afraid.
*lets out deep breath*
Okay, I feel much lighter. Maybe now I can go into my son’s room, which is wall-to-wall wolves, without feeling the overwhelming urge to break things!
*the poem I wrote about wolves, once upon a time:
“Guardians of the Mist”
Out of the mist of the moonlit night,
come the lords of the wild to claim their right.
Out of the mist echos nature’s call,
proud and courageous they declare night’s fall.
Out of the mist lies a mystic domain,
kingdom of power sovereignty untamed.
Out of the mist let the wolves run free,
to shadow the hills and continue to be
guardians of the mist.
…they can be guardians as long as it’s of the mist and not the snow, and they don’t hunt down Liam and Dermot and that railroad company man from 3:10 to Yuma, sans mustache and bowler hat, whose name I forget…
It seems I may not be over it yet completely.