Category Archives: Screening Discussion

The Kangaroo

Here’s the thing:

Think about every other scene in FlashForward. We are provided with real human emotions, real human actions and, besides the one event that the show is based around, a pretty linear progression of events. It feels real. We aren’t shown a character like Jason in Lost in a surreal, metaphysical world. People see their futures, and then life moves on as we know it. It is easy to provide an explanation for the kangaroo by saying it escaped from the zoo, but there is one thing that is for sure: seeing a kangaroo in the middle of a crowded city in an area that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a zoo only a minute after everyone wakes up from their blackout is pretty surreal. We can create a logical explanation and glean meaning from anything if we put our minds to it, because that is in our nature. We naturally want things to have explanations and want things to make sense.

I would defend any other moment in the two episodes of FlashForward we watched in class, but the kangaroo was too much of a blatant shout-out to Lost. There were many people that wanted to explain Lost by saying it was all a dream, and that the final episode would have them all waking up in the airplane and going their separate ways. We need an explanation for surreality and thus subconsciously search for it until there is no rational explanation left. So great; there was a kangaroo and we assume he escaped from the zoo, but it is still Dali-esque enough to see a kangaroo hopping around the streets of LA that we hearken back to our knowledge of other shows of its genre.

This surrealism, and not our subconscious explanation, is what bothers me the most. It gives us unfair expectations about how the show is going to progress. We assume that there is going to be an element of surrealism, which it does not have, from my experience with the show. The show mostly encourages us to ask questions about the one event and whether the future is going to change or not. Motivation of characters, present events and what happens outside of the future and the 2.17 minutes everyone passed out all seem to get us into a real world that we can relate to. Thus, the kangaroo to me had no purpose except to attract a different kind of audience that would not be interested in what comes in the future. Someone who likes Lost may not like FlashForward because of the differences between the two shows. FlashForward doesn’t have the mystical element, and a kangaroo going from the zoo to the middle of the city in 2.17 minutes creates mystical questions that a) will not be answered and b) are out of the element of the show, which is what I think makes it so powerful.

Here are two interesting web forums about the kangaroo, and a quote from one of the posters at the end that seems to say what I am trying to say in a different way. Seems to me it’s not only us having this argument and trying to explain this damn kangaroo with a tendency to try to confirm a certain realism.

“The kangaroo also reminded me of the polar bear. My theory on why it was on the streets is this: It was being transported to a zoo in a vehicle that crashed during the flashforward and escaped. This makes me think what all the other living creatures on earth experienced during the flashforward. Were they unaffected?

The Kangaroo is briefly shown in the preview that aired after the pilot, so I hope that it just shows up in the streets throughout the series with no explanation of its importance until the series finale.

Maybe the kangaroo caused the flashforward?” – Member [2 Minutes 17 Seconds] of

This shows that we not only want explanations, but that we want every moment to be pertinent to the show. Decisions made in shows and movies are all conscious decisions by the authors of the show. They can be conscious decisions for plot purposes, for aesthetic purposes, or for transmedia reasons such as drawing different audiences that might not be interested otherwise. I personally think that the kangaroo was the latter, and that we weren’t necessarily supposed to assume that it escaped from the zoo, though that is just our natural tendency.

Purple Rose of Cairo Original Post 9/7/2010

Two of the prompts particularly stood out to me from this week’s screening.

First off, I am interested in the movie’s reference of the act of movie-going. One very important theme that I kept noticing was people in the audience talking about their expectations coming into the movie theater. People go to see what they expect. The people in the audience were extremely jarred when Tom Baxter appeared off the screen, of course, but this statement can also be taken further. When one goes to see a movie, usually it fits into a particular genre with some unspoken guidelines. If one goes to see a romantic comedy, one tends to know what’s coming. It is generally expected that the main characters will get together at the end and that love will prevail. When this doesn’t occur, or something goes wrong, the audience feels uncomfortable. Tom Baxter said at one point, “Where I come from, people don’t disappoint. They’re consistent.” Movies are supposed to remain the same and a character only exists in his or her limited world, so there are certain limitations a movie-goer subconsciously places on a movie that seem even taboo to break.

The second prompt that interested me most was the topic of the individual experience of spectatorship. An interesting technique that Woody Allen used was the framing of The Purple Rose of Cairo, the film within the film. At the beginning, when she was completely enthralled by the film and her mind was completely fixated on it, the film itself took up the entire screen, as if we were in the film. Later, when her husband had hit her and her mind wasn’t completely fixated on the film, the shot of the scenes in the film sometimes showed the curtains on the sides of the screen and we weren’t completely immersed in the black and white movie either. This represents how sometimes we can be paying complete attention to the movie, and be invested in what happens to the characters, and sometimes our mind can wander into our own lives and the reality in which we live. Movies can be a way for people to escape from their real lives, but sometimes it’s impossible to get away completely.

In Tim Gunning’s “The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, Its Spectator, and the Avant-Garde”, he references the willingness of early films during the period of “cinema of attractions” to “rupture a self-enclosed fictional world for a chance to solicit the attention of the spectator.” (Gunning; Cinema of Attraction; p. 230) This is exactly what the audience was not expecting in Woody Allen’s film because it disrupted the predictable flow of narrative. It took the movie-goer out of the film and back into reality, which was a jolt and something unexpected. When going to see a film with expectations, particularly when one has already seen the film, it is difficult to accept a tangent from the normal or anticipated. This is how film has strayed from the “cinema of attractions” to narrative films with a fourth wall. Though there is the element of exoticism in the film within our assigned film, it is expected to remain within the confines of the screen, unlike the “Lumiere tradition of ‘placing the world within one’s reach’.” (Gunning; Cinema of Attraction; p. 230)

I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this response.