by Alex Garland men In addition to the critical applause, caused many conversations – especially when it came to the shocking and vivid final scene of the film.
men is the story of a woman who decides to take a vacation to the English countryside, only to be tormented by something sinister lurking in the quaint little town. The film casts Jessie Buckley (The Lost Girl) as Harper Marlowe, whose suicide prompts her to book shore leave. Joining her in the film’s small cast is Rory Kinnear (Our flag means death), who plays several characters in the film, including Geoffrey, the kind owner of the house Harper rented.
What begins as a quiet vacation quickly takes a dark turn for Harper, whose perspective on the horrific events unfolding around her adds another surreal layer to Garland’s exploration of trauma, gender and the cyclical nature of creation. Her experience culminates in a final confrontation with her tormentor, who – in more ways than one – delivers a scene that gets everyone talking.
Note: Main plot points of the film men will be discussed after this point. Consider this a spoiler alert.
“This particular sequence was written as mutations — just like a sequence of mutations,” Garland told Digital Trends of the scene where Kinnear’s enigmatic Green Man-like being goes through a series of births and rebirths while he’s playing Harper from the farm hunts and into the house. (The Green Man is a legendary being interpreted primarily as a symbol of rebirth.)
While the scene begins with a more human birth, it gradually evolves into something far stranger, with each new form emerging from a different orifice or point on its predecessor’s body and forcing itself out under Harper’s horrified gaze. Garland said his penchant for script flexibility and shooting his films largely in their narrative order left the final scene hanging in the air for quite a while with only vague ideas of how to bring it to fruition.
“Some people write everything and have an incredibly clear idea of what’s going to happen. I don’t know,” Garland laughed. “I tell the actors in rehearsals, this script is still fluid and open-ended and we can make changes and come up with something.”
First, Garland revealed that the scene should have a much more nature-related theme for the transformation.
“There was a vague thought that because we had this Green Man character, it would be about seasons — and the mutations would happen through things like green growth coming out of him,” he said. “If you leave a camera on a dead fox for a week and then watch it time-lapse as it decomposes and changes, maybe that’s how we would do the mutations.”
The exact look and feel he wanted for the scene remained elusive until Garland said he was “kind of creatively struck” while watching an episode of the popular animated series. Attack of the Titans with his daughter. Set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with monstrous “Titans” devouring humans, the series features complex and unique transformation sequences that illustrate the evolution of Titans and their relationship with humans.
“[The series] took human forms and made subtle changes in some ways — ones that veered toward the ridiculous in ways that I really liked,” he said. “I think the ridiculousness is a big part of this film, a kind of pathetic humor that kind of sits alongside the horror and weirdness. It’s important that these two things compete against each other.
“As I saw Attack of the Titans, I could see how imaginative and creative it was, and it gave me a lot to think about,” he continued. “I spent Christmas doing lots of shape sketches and then it basically became the birth sequence.”
For Garland, it was this desire not to freeze things long before filming that made this memorable scene possible and gave her the time to find the right path to bring the film’s most shocking scene to the screen.
“I try to get involved in the whole process of making a film, from pre-production to shooting to editing, staying aware of the possibilities and being sensitive to the changes without feeling like things are coming to fruition” said Garland. “For me, the dream is that someone sees this film and doesn’t forget it when they leave the cinema.”
by Alex Garland menstarring Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear, is in theaters now.