Shane Walsh: The Walker Apocalypse and the Destruction of Humanity

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Although the destruction of Shane’s character began in season one (most noticeably in the attempted rape of former lover Lori Grimes), it is not until season two in which Shane’s humanity really begins to disappear. This is the subject I wish to focus on. Whilst watching The Walking Dead, it was Jon Bernthal’s performance of Shane that struck me the most. Shane was intense, emotional, misunderstood, aggressive and deadly. It is all of these characteristics, and more., that made him the show’s most interesting and pinnacle character. I wish to argue that the reason why Shane is such a fascinating character is because he emblematizes the destruction of humanity in an apocalyptic Walker- Invaded world. Unlike some of the other characters, he is unable to cling to the person he was before the outbreak.

The attempted rape of Lori is arguably the first biggest indicator of the deterioration of Shane’s humanity. Whilst Lori’s husband Rick was presumed dead, Shane and Lori engaged in a secret sexual relationship.  When Rick returned, their relationship ended and Shane became isolated from the family he had protected. This led to an obsession with Lori and after he realised he wouldn’t be able to have her properly, he attempted to have her physically. This scene exemplified the change in Shane as he tries to defile the woman he swore to protect and never harm. The show doesn’t deal with much of Lori or Shane’s reactions to this event but it suggests that Shane is ashamed of his actions by his dismissal of its existence when Lori tries to bring it into a conversation. Not long after the attempted rape,  Shane tries to get away from the problem. It is clear that being near Lori and Carl but being unable to be a part of their family in the way he was before is proving too much for him so he opts to leave the others and take a chance on his own. He would rather face this terrible life alone than choose to continue under false pretences and pretend not to be in love with her.

There are several moments throughout the second season in which Shane’s humanity begins to disappear. These include the murder of Otis, the incident at the barn and the final scene between himself and Rick in which he tries to lead Rick to his death. The first major incident in season two is Shane’s murder of farm-dweller Otis. Shane shoots Otis in order to slow the Walkers down. He knows if he does this, he will be able to return to the farm and give Carl what he needs. It is here in which the biggest change in Shane occurs. Here, he becomes a murderer. He has previously desired it in the earlier season in which Dale catches him in a momentary desire to kill Rick and his attempt to regain glory and his previous state of happiness personified by Lori. In the bathroom scene after Otis’ murder, Shane does not like the person he sees in the mirror, at first it may seem like he rejects the murderer but in fact as he precedes to shave his head it is suggestive that he is trying to rid himself of any feeling or emotion that he had previously owned. The haircut is crucial to Shane’s persona as it connotes that the Shane we have come to know in the first season has disappeared. Shane’s humanity is now gone. It appears that the only reason why survival is still an incentive is so he can be there for Lori.

Another crucial scene in Shane’s deterioration is the barn scene in which he releases the walkers onto the farm. Although, much of what Shane communicates to the naïve Hershel is correct, he chooses to do it in an aggressive and cruel demeanour literally shooting the walker that Hershel is holding leaving him a broken man.  He makes no attempt to reason with him and embarrasses him in front of the entire group. His release of the walkers suggests that he does not give a thought about the number of Walkers in there and if they will be able to protect themselves from them. Perhaps by releasing the walkers, it provides Shane with another chance to be the hero and protect Lori and Carl and the rest of the survivors because Rick is tied up with another walker. Shane also demands that they need to stop looking for Sophia, as it isn’t like it was before. In Shane’s mind, he has adapted to the new world in the best way possible whereas Rick hasn’t/. In actuality, Shane has let the new world taint him to a murderous and destructive degree.

Shane’s final scene and the showdown between himself and Rick is incredibly emotional. In relation to Shane’s resentment of Rick, masculinity of course has something to do with it. He claims “I’m a better man than you”. He believes Rick cannot provide and protect Lori in the same way he can. He positions what type of person he is by how much he can protect Lori and Carl. Masculinity is furthered when Rick refuses to get his gun asking Shane to kill an unarmed man. Shane finds this difficult suggesting that he is hoping for a final fight between himself and Rick which will prove who is the better man. Lastly, as Rick screams “This was you, not me”, he tries to cling to the humane world that Shane abandoned. Shane Walsh is a personification of the destruction and deterioration of humanity in a world that is no longer dominated by humans. Whilst many of the characters, especially Dale, cling to their morals, Shane leaves it behind to attempt to fit into this new and horrific world.

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Here Come The Girls!

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Lena Dunham is certainly on her way to becoming the most current feminist idol and this has most recently been established by her hit HBO TV show Girls. Girls tells the story of four young women living in New York and deals with their romantic, sexual and personal disasters and accomplishments. Sound familiar? After hearing much hype about the show, I practically devoured the first series in one go. The show begins with Dunham’s character Hannah and her realisation that she will no longer be supported by her parents. Although an obviously very middle class interpretation, Girls is an honest, sometimes too honest, portrayal of young womanhood and the struggle of finding oneself in a century where everyone is individual.

The women are at times often dislikeable, Hannah is self-centred and her reliance on Adam is quite embarrassing at times, Marnie is consistently uptight and self-righteous, Jessa is perhaps a bit too free-spirited whilst Shoshanna is annoyingly naïve. However, these characteristics are relatable. These women are flawed and they know it, Dunham focuses on how these women will navigate their lives with such flaws. Additionally, I find the use of nudity very interesting. Dunham, a feminist, appears topless in several episodes throughout the series and you can’t help but ponder why. But Dunham’s aim was to use nudity to represent real women, real bodies and real situations. Girls is an authentic portrayal of the reality of the female body and female sexuality. Dunham focuses on the embarrassment and awkward situations that the women find themselves in, Hannah constantly finds herself in painfully awkward moments during sex with Adam, which makes the show even more relatable.

With the focus on four women in New York and its broadcast on HBO, many cannot help but to compare it to Sex And The City (Dunham even acknowledges it with Shoshanna’s poster of the show on her wall!) What differs the show’s however, is the main protagonist, Hannah. Like Carrie, Hannah is a writer, or perhaps more accurately an aspiring and struggling writer, but Hannah’s narration guides us in a much more realistic way than Carrie’s ever did. Girls is certainly not an idealisation. These women, with little money and a lack of prospects, guide us through the real world.

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‘Creating is my drug of choice’: Mark Harris’ directorial debut in The Broken

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First time director and screen writer, Mark Harris describes his new film ‘The Broken’ as a “Nil by Mouth” for the decade. It is evident whilst talking to him, that this film, as well as other types of British grit films are a clear influence to Harris. Interestingly, Nil By Mouth was also Gary Oldman’s directorial and writing debut. Harris, like Oldman, is known mostly for his acting roles and has starred in several British films including Anuvahood, Outside Bet and Offender.

Harris plays Matt Hollis, just released from prison, he attempts to rebuild his marriage after the death of his son. He decides to take his wife Allison (Anna Nightingale) and daughter to Los Angeles in an attempt to make things right between them all. However, not long after they arrive things go horribly beaten as Allison is viciously beaten and his daughter, Lara, is taken from her bed. Enlisting the help of an old friend, can Matt save his daughter in time before she becomes caught up in a dangerous world of child trafficking that she will be unable to get out of.

Putting other projects aside for the moment, he is focused on delivering the work.
Harris describes the film as ‘psychological and dark’. Most viewers will find the film intense, shocking and emotional but as the story is based on true stories from the Saving Innocence charity, it is important to get the horrific truth of child-trafficking out there. In some sequences, Harris refrains from explicitness, preferring to allow the viewer to dwell on the horrific possibilities themselves. The imagination is a powerful tool.

In seeing some of the footage of the upcoming film, it is clear that Harris likes to take his characters to the edge of insanity and back, pushing them, and himself, to the extreme. After the kidnapping of his daughter, the ex-alcoholic returns to booze and shouts to God in an almost monologue type sequence. Through acting, Harris is able to take himself to places he hasn’t been before. This is evidently freeing for him. He stated that he loves taking himself ‘to the edge of insanity’. This is a very emotional scene and is truly the image of a broken man. Can he come back from this? Harris notes how he wanted to keep this scene as long as possible and not break away from the emotion.

Whether acting, directing or writing, Harris praises creation and says ‘to create is the most gifted thing’ and says its ‘like being on a high.’ Although, his primary focus is acting, he thoroughly enjoyed the creative experience of writing and directing. Unsure if he even wants a premiere for his film and shying away from his title as director, Harris has to be one of the least egotistical filmmakers of the moment.

Watching the film, even though its set in L.A. it is evident that this is not a Hollywood film. What Harris has done, and what others have failed to do, is bring the Britishness and “grittiness” to Hollywood. Through combining national identities and conventions, Harris manages to do something truly unique. He took his film and his ideas to Hollywood and has managed to do British filmmaking justice. As he describes it, he was ‘flying the flag’. The Broken looks set to be another example of why we should all support British film. Although, I only saw some footage and not the entirety of the film, I can already say that the narrative is compelling and the experience is intense. When chatting with Harris, he was charming, funny and very passionate about his work which certainly comes through in the film. Harris is unsure of whether or not he will direct again. Acting is his main passion and is what he wants to really succeed in. After The Broken, I highly doubt that this will be a problem.

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The Carrie Diaries

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So, as a big fan of Sex And The City, it is safe to say that I am nervous about approaching its prequel The Carrie Diaries. With the mediocre success of the movies, it has been proven that Sex And The City isn’t just simply a successful format. Will I be able to accept someone other than Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, a fashion icon for anyone who even so much as glimpses the show. Maybe this is an opportunity to take a new twist on the beloved sitcom.

The Carrie Diaries, based on the novel by Candace Bushnell, is set in 1984, a time where fashion and music icons such as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna ruled the tabloids and inspired teenage girls everywhere. Life isn’t normal for sixteen year old Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) after the death of her mother so when her Dad gives her the opportunity to go to Manhattan once a week Carrie jumps at the chance. However, when she gets there she realises the internship isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and her co-workers are dull. On a lunch break, she meets Larissa Loughlin (Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman), a style editor for Interview magazine, who opens Carrie’s eyes to the fashion, glamour and gloriousness of New York City.

With a relatively unknown cast, The Carrie Diaries provides an opportunity to catapult new faces onto our television screens. AnnaSophia Robb is a perfect choice for the role, she does not simply copy Sarah Jessica Parker’s role, she adapts it for a sixteen year old girl. Robb has Bradshaw’s wide eyed naivety nailed perfectly. The only thing that Robb and Parker have in common is the hair but this is definitely a good thing, Robb provides us with a fresh take on Carrie. She reminded me more of Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz in Clueless than Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Of course, as in Sex And The City, both Manhattan and Fashion become characters of their own. None of Carrie’s friends are going to match Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte but I look forward to seeing how the dynamics of the friendship are continued throughout the series.

Many people are describing The Carrie Diaries as a replacement for The CW’s Gossip Girl. This is not the case. The Carrie Diaries is much more light hearted and nothing like Gossip Girl. If you’re expecting this to replace your Gossip Girl fix of sex, lies and manipulation then think again. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the pilot. I think if you look at it in relation to Sex And The City, then it’s going to fail your expectations but if you see it as a completely separate entity, it can be surprisingly enjoyable. It has everything you want from a primetime teen show; love interests, comedy and a dazzling city. I am excited to see how the series continues but judging by the first series, it looks like this is going to be a worthwhile watch.

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A Focus on Chosen: The Final Episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer – A Dedication.

Image Originally broadcast in May 2003, this was a sad day for Buffy fans around the world. For seven years we have watched the characters develop, the narratives become more complex and the monsters become scarier but every show has to end at some point and I think Joss Whedon chose to end the show on a poignantly perfect point. In this article, I give a few reasons how Whedon did the show justice in the highly anticipated series seven finale.

Every season finale of Buffy The Vampire Slayer has always been epic but this time Whedon used the final episode to both commemorate and reflect on the history of the show, its characters and narratives that have been crucial to fan interaction. The final battle takes place in Sunnydale High School, a place where the show began and a place that several demons destroyed throughout the first three seasons. Most notably, the return of Angel is the most significant reflection on shows first few series. Fans had followed the romance of Buffy and Angel throughout the first few seasons, he made appearances in both series four and five but was absent in the sixth series. By bringing Angel back in the last episode, Whedon shows an acknowledgment to the significance of the Buffy and Angel relationship for both the fans but also for Buffy herself. His appearance is a way of reflecting of how there will always be a love between the two characters. This kind of love is everlasting. Whether he is in Los Angeles and she is in Sunnydale or whether he is involved with Cordelia or she is involved with Spike, there will always be an unsaid but a known love between them. He disappears into the shadows as he does in the first episode, ‘Welcome To The Hellmouth’. Her rejection of Angel’s help to fight the battle with her is significant to Buffy and Spike’s relationship, with Angel gone, she is able to accept Spike as the hero he really is and accept him as a love. Whedon also points to the ending of the first episode of the show as he says ‘The earth is definitely doomed’, he said ‘The Earth is doomed’ at the end of “Welcome To The Hellmouth”. This is significant of the entire premise of the first series, going back to the beginning.

There are several character resolutions in the final episode. Faith’s relationship with Buffy has been complex throughout the series but during the battle, their relationship finally seems to reach a conclusion. They will never be close friends, too much has happened, but they will always be there for each other, looking out for each other and protecting each other in battle. The connection between Faith and Buffy has always been vague however the connection between Faith and Buffy as slayers is undeniable. It is also interesting to see Faith’s interaction with Wood. Her relationships with men have been complicated throughout the series; Faith and Angel, Faith and Mayor Richard Wilkins. Neither of the relationships have facilitated her needs, Wood seems interested in “surprising” her and there seems promise of a relationship post-Chosen.

One theme that stays concurrent throughout the show and that is given a huge place in the series finale is female empowerment. This is shown both through the new found slayer powers within girls all over the world and through Willow’s final spell of the series. This is summed up by Willow’s declaration of “Oh My Goddess”. Female empowerment is celebrated through magic and the slayers. The show also focuses on the complicated but importance of female relationships; Willow and Tara, Buffy and Faith, Willow and Kennedy, Buffy and Willow and Buffy and Dawn. The final message of the episode and thus of the series is that every woman can be powerful and every woman has the potential to be strong.

In an epic battle such as between Buffy and The First, deaths are inevitable. Two principal characters of the show are killed. These are Anya and Spike. Anya’s death is unbelievably quick, too quick to comprehend what has happened. It is Andrew’s declaration of why he has survived over Anya that is potentially the saddest moment of her death. There was little Anya in the last episode which was disappointing but necessary for the bigger story to be told. The bigger story here was Spike and his sacrifice. Spike finally becomes the champion he had tried so hard to be. His past sins disappear as he does as he finally finds his purpose. Spike and Buffy’s final moments are enormously touching. As she tells him she loves him, he replies with “No you don’t, but thanks for saying it”. Whether Buffy does truly love Spike has always been debatable, to me the declaration as Spike was dying was very convincing however in Spike’s reply, I think Whedon wanted to leave it uncertain, leaving it up to the fans to decide.

The last moments of the episode have been controversial. On first viewing, I was disappointed. For a show that invites the bold and the epic, the last shots seemed undeveloped. However, when re-viewing the episode again, I realised that this was a perfect ending for Buffy. Her smile is not just a recognition that good triumphed evil once again but that some of the weight has been lifted off her shoulders. She is no longer the only slayer for this generation. She no longer has sole responsibility, it is now shared with many other females throughout the world. This is the beginning of a new type of world; a world where females lead.

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The Girl Review

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“Blondes make the best victims” according to Hitchcock. However, this blonde didn’t scare so easy.

A television drama film shown on Boxing Day by BBC 2, The Girl, tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with his leading lady in both The Birds and Marnie, Tippi Hedren. The film follows their meeting and watches their relationship develop as it takes a very disturbing turn. We watch Hedren grow from an unknown actress to a star, however she is caught in Hitchcock’s grasp. There is a disturbing tone over their relationship from the offset and the use of tight framing throughout the film is effective in reinforcing the uncomfortable and claustrophobic nature of their relationship.

The casting for the film is great. Toby Jones provides an intelligent display of Hitchcock’s obsession with Hedren, Sienna Miller is charming as Tippi Hedren exemplifying the glamour of the Hedren herself and other movie stars of the time whilst offering a nervous and sympathetic portrayal of the actress. Perhaps an underrated actress, more famous for her appearances in the tabloids than the movies, I surprisingly found her to be a joy to watch and identified heavily with Miller’s character. Imelda Staunton gives an honest and complex performance of Alma, Hitchcock’s smart and dutiful wife that works alongside him in picking the actresses. It is when she notices Hedren for the first time that the story begins. Both Jones and Miller have been nominated for Golden Globe awards for their performances in The Girl.

One of the most interesting relationships in the film is perhaps not of Hitchcock and Hedren, but of Hitchcock and his wife, Alma. Every scene that Staunton is in is engaging both because of the characterisation and performance. However, the character does feel slightly undeveloped as if there is still so much more to be said about her and her relationship with Hitchcock.. This can be seen in relation to Jones’ portrayal of Hitchcock. Although the brilliance of the performance cannot be denied, it appears he plays him simply as a sexual predator and chooses to ignore everything else about the director. There is no possibility of warming to the character. The horrific scenes of the film, such as when The Birds attack Hedren, are juxtaposed with the stillness of Jones’ performance. The strength of the characters are displayed by the undeniably memorable performances of Miller, Staunton and Jones.

The drama uses the opportunity to recreate recognisable scenes and settings from both The Birds and Marnie as well as a few enjoyable less than subtle shower references to Psycho. Pleasant iconography is used in terms of cars, music and costumes. There are several beautiful high angle shots used to explore the glamour of the settings.

For fans of the “master of suspense”, the film may be perceived as a demeaning and undermining representation of the acclaimed director. Obviously, it is important to remember that the film is not true but is simply based on different accounts of the director such as Tippi Hedren’s. Many of his work colleagues including Kim Novak, have disputed the claims of Hitchcock as a sexual predator The film offers an interesting take on the much discussed filming of The Birds, offering a negative portrayal of Hitchcock. However, it’s glossy visual style and compelling narrative cannot be argued with. This is a television film that is simply very well done.

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Ruby Slippers

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Ruby Slippers on my feet
These shoes do not belong to me
Ruby Slippers I now own
Somewhere far away from home

Ruby Slippers filled with light
Have since become the subject of spite
Ruby Slippers causing pain
They precede to give me fame

Ruby Slippers, this world is cruel
Ruby Slippers, take me home
Back over the rainbow
Where simplicity lies

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