Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Hercules 2007: Unshaven, Bored, Lackadaisical

That’s another pitch for Labor Days. It's the 12 labors of Hercules re-imagined. Set in the present day and featuring a thoroughly confused and unmotivated hero at its center. It's maybe the pitch with the strongest hook, as they say.

There's an essay out there somewhere by a film critic (or maybe you'd call him a theorist) named Thomas Elsaesser (okay, weird, he has a website, complete with, rather odd, picture).

Ahem, anyway... he wrote an essay years ago called "Notes on the Unmotivated Hero" or something like that. It was about the nature of protagonists in '70s American cinema. Specifically, movies like The Conversation, Night Moves, Two-Lane Blacktop, and The Long Goodbye.

They're slacker heroes before slacking became the province of comedies (teen or otherwise). Their motivations are full of a kind of world-weary pathos. And they tend to be inserted in genres where you expect a highly motivated hero (mostly, but not always, they're in detective films).

Our main character, Benton "Bags" Bagswell, is based on the idea of that kind of hero. What if an unmotivated hero found himself in the middle of an adventure of almost Grecian proportions? What if the fate of history hung in the balance?

Once Rick gets up on here, and we can see Bags, I'll tell you more about him.

(on a side note, someday I'd like to push an unmotivated hero into other genres. Fantasy in particular would be fun. In a sense, Barry Windsor-Smith did a bit of this with a section of his Storyteller's comic. Which seems to be, holy crap, now available to buy. Guess I'll be getting that.)

(a second side note, The Dude is an excellent example of a latter day unmotivated hero. And the tone of that film is much closer to Labor Days)

(further, for anyone who really cares about theories of '70s film, I do have some issues with calling those characters "unmotivated." As did Elsaesser, if I remember correctly. But what's important is the idea of an unmotivated hero. Productive brain food, I find).