Alien vs. Predator: The Musical – Update: Adrien Brody, Bertolt Brecht & Box Office Poison


This post hopes to justify the “M” variable in the acronym AVP:TM.  But first!

Updates in Franchisicide:

Adrien Brody to star in Predator sequel.  That’s right, Roman Polanski’s guy-Friday will be assuming the position of Arnold Schwarzenegger in what is sure to be an awkwardly heartfelt performance. I’m guessing immediately after agreeing to the project, Brody Googled “Predator” to find out what it was.

Followers of the AVP:TM project will recognize that casting such a gaunt chap runs the risk of mass disappointment by potentially violating the franchise’s sub-textual examination of competing male identities.  Duh, don’t film producers read my blog?  Perhaps it can work, but it’s a gamble.  What do you think?  Feel free to comment on why you think Brody was picked for Predators.

To clean the pallet of that news please enjoy:

Wikipedia vs. Predator a link care of Claire &
Alien Loves Predator a comic we can all be jealous of.

Why a Musical?

This question is a just one posed by AVP:TM supporter Ashley.  In an attempt at the answer, the following will bludgeon you with a number of winding non-sequiturs about Bertolt Brecht until you ultimately conceit to my flawed logic.  Enjoy!

Brecht pioneered throughout his career an approach to drama called “epic theatre.” To understand what epic theatre is  it helps to know that it was in part a reaction to the most dominant dramatic form of the time, “naturalism.”  Naturalism was popularly advocated for by the Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavaski and held as its primary goal the seamless illusion of reality.  Under naturalism the acting, set design and writing of every production should strive for as authentic and accurate a portrayal of real life as possible. This is a noble enough artistic goal.  Sort of the theatrical equivalent of renaissance-era figure paintings.  However, the way in which naturalism captured European theatre at the time, establishing itself as a rubric for the success pushed this esthetic to a mandate.  A large problem with naturalism, for Brecht, was that it shows an audience a contained and compartmentalized bubble of life that can either be accepted as true or rejected as false.  You can say, “Yup that’s how it is, it might suck but there’s not much we can do about it,” or, “That woman was way too old to play his daughter.”  Bertolt didn’t like this. The main thrust of his criticism revolved around the conceit that the theatre of naturalism placed a limitation on the powerful quality of the stage to express ideas, initiate debate and ultimately inspire action.  Brecht saw the stage as a platform for communication where a play’s message could continue outside of the playhouse.  Yes, Bert was (as my father would say) a “pinko” but in 1930’s Germany being a commie meant that you weren’t a Nazi.  Brecht actually was a regularly placed a thorn in Hitler’s side before his own voluntary exile.

What epic theatre does to break the spell of naturalism is present elements that tell the audience that what they are watching is an intended imitation of life, and not life itself.  Strategies include addressing the audience, breaking the fourth wall, and a structure where each scene possesses a narrative sovereignty that neither suggests what came before or what will come after.  However, most important of all, sometimes people break into song!  Musicals!  I bet you thought I wasn’t going to get back to that, did you?  Also Brecht—Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra fans will note—wrote “Mack the Knife” for his musical “The Threepenny Opera” (Just another reason Cyndi Lauper is better than Madonna, see also Goonies soundtrack).

If Alien vs. Predator is about the issues and conflicts that I believe it is, it must be presented like epic theatre. Film, more often than not, is preoccupied with the same ideas of plausibility as naturalism. By making something into a film you ride on the subliminal presupposition that this can happen, and the movie’s structure is almost completely occupied in convincing you that the movie you’re watching could take place in the real world. Robots from space that turn into semi-trucks really could wage an intergalactic battle on Earth.  Nicolas Cage really could find treasure in Washington’s nose on Mount Rushmore.  The Garbage Pail Kids really could be runway fashion savants.

Not to mention how a 30ft Queen Alien puppet on a screen looks big and scary, but to really understand what 30ft  is to see it on stage.  Nothing breaks that bubble of naturalism like having an alien scurry down the aisle next to you, or a predator swoop in from the rafters.  And let’s not forget that two films have already failed to express the project’s understated complexity.  A third movie now would be box office poison.

How do I know all of this?  What’d you think I was born with these student loans?  Site me in your term paper.  No really, I don’t mind talking to the grad TA that teaches your class, I’m not afraid.

This entry was published on October 12, 2009 at 6:53 pm. It’s filed under Alien vs. Predator: The Musical, Arts & Culture, Film Criticism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Alien vs. Predator: The Musical – Update: Adrien Brody, Bertolt Brecht & Box Office Poison

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