THE WILD HUNT
Aka: The Best Damn Movie Ever
(Warning: The following review is rather prejudiced against Canada)
A good while back my friend Tommy and I were looking for some good movies to watch while we were smoking 'tobacco' and we were drawn to the idea of watching a L.A.R.P. movie at the suggestion of our mutual friend John. For those of you who aren't aware what LARPing is, it stands for Live Action Role Playing.
Basically in real life some wicked cool dudes with acne problems get together with foam swords and medieval armor, talk in ye olde English and beat the ever-loving shit out of each other for fun while enjoying the fantasy of being a part of a world of knights, magic, dragons and of course wenches.
(Reason #4 to visit a LARP.)
LARPing was made popular recently by its appearance in the movie Role Models and while searching through the various tubes and wires which compose the internet we managed to find a few more movies which contained LARPing and went far more in-depth on the subject than the movie Role Models managed to. After a viewing of the movie Knights of Badassdom featuring Peter Dinklage (the undisputed sexiest man alive) we were left rather disappointed.
(Sorry Peter, even you couldn't salvage that train-wreck.)
But we found our salvation in our next choice The Wild Hunt, a movie produced out of Canada. Not only was The Wild Hunt, in my professional opinion as a guy who watches too many movies, the single greatest movie of all time forever but it also practically BEGS to be appreciated through Baudrillardian theories on reality. I mean really if Baudrillard was both a super cool nerd and an amazing story teller this is the movie I think he would have produced. Before I go any farther be sure to check out this sick trailer:
Required Viewing Material: The Trailer
(I would SO want to be a part of this.)
For those of you interested in watching the full movie here's a link, I'd recommend it here because you all will be able to appreciate it on more levels than most people: http://www.hulu.com/watch/382167
The commercials on Hulu.com detract a lot from the impact of the movie, so if you have the chance I'd try finding it elsewhere.
During the movie The Wild Hunt a 'normal' kid in his early twenties is grounded in the real world by some very significant problems in his life, whereas his brother (who had a penchant for avoiding reality through fantasy games and novels) escapes into the world of LARPing.
Fearing that his love interest/hot goth girl is drifting into the fantasy world which stole his brother the 'normal' main character who I shall refer to as Norm (because I forgot his name) heads off to the LARP in which his brother takes part. When Norm arrives he is startled by the bizarre and unnatural acts, attire and customs of the simulation and in him we can see the simulation functioning as Baudrillard describes "it masks and denatures a profound reality...it is an evil appearance - it is of the order of maleficence" (Baudrillard).
In other words the LARP is like a foreign land for Norm and serves to remind him of how real his true reality is, and how ridiculous this model is and how insane those pretending the model is reality must be. Norm is grounded even further in reality by the LARP.
(I can kinda see where Norm is coming from...)
The LARP has the opposite function for Norm's brother who takes to the LARP like a fish to water and likely passed through the stage stage which Baudrillard described above many years earlier, Norm's brother eagerly attempts to replace large chunks of his own reality with the copy during the one day a month in which the LARP takes place. Although Norm's brother, much like the rest of the LARPers, effectively 'become' new people in a new world during the LARP and the simulation masks the fact they are acting out a false reality by giving them a world in which to play the players are aware of the truth of their other non-simulated reality but prefer the simulation. Baudrillard describes this phase of the simulation process as "it masks the absence of a profound reality...it plays at being an appearance - it is of the order of sorcery".
(Norm's Brother and his axe.)
This phase of the simulation process is the one in which most of the movie takes place, dipping in to the second phase when it follows Norm in his quest to pull his girlfriend out of the fantasy and back into his reality. Throughout the process Norm even shows some signs of sliding into the third phase of the simulation process at the encouragement of those around him.
A really funny scene takes place in which Norm's brother playing the character Olaf leaves the LARP in his full barbarian gear and uses a payphone in a gas station and stays in character the whole time. Now if a man pretending to be a barbarian screaming about Thor into a modern day payphone isn't Baudrillardian I'm clearly in the wrong major.
Some other neat examples of the simulation playing at the appearance of being a reality:
- LARPing girls supposedly have sex with a pug-fugly guy for fake gold coins.
- When the main characters enters the LARP in normal clothes he's chased out by burly men for looking like a weirdo from the future.
- Governments and factions form in the LARP world and compete for power.
- A bunch of dudes spend days hanging out alone in the woods even though its no fun but because its where their barbarian characters would live.
- And many more examples you'll catch when you watch the movie
Now, before I get into any of the real juicy awesome Baudrillardian stuff I'm going to warn you that it does include spoilers and if you read ahead you're going to be missing out on what is probably the greatest movie AND the ability to show your friends a movie they have never seen before. Seriously, I guarantee no one has heard of this movie, its from Canada. I didn't even know film technology had made it all the way to Canada already.
(About time Canada gave us something. Justin Bieber doesn't count, he's the herpes of people.)
SPOILERS: WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST
For the Love of God Please Watch the Movie First
Seriously guys, I'm not messing around. Do it.
If you're reading this than you've already watched the movie so I don't need to tell you how it ends, but on the off chance that you're a terrible person and have continued without watching; A group of particularly dedicated roleplayers camped in the woods and led by a character named "The Shaman Morhtag" prepare for a great battle and Morhtag drugs up the whole lot of them with god knows what in some tribal ritual-type thing. Morhtag is all pissed off because he didn't get to have semi-consensual sex with the main character's girlfriend, and in a depression he collects all his objects from the real world and burns them in a fire and to his delight so do all his loyal drugged up barbarian nut-jobs.
Morhtag and his friends have made the decision, or otherwise been overcome by the simulation, to slip into the final phases of Baudrillard's simulation: "it has no relation to any reality whatsoever;
it is its own pure simulacrum... it is no longer of the order of appearances, but of simulation" (Baudrillard).
In other words this group of people ceases to be a group of people in the woods who appear to be tribal barbarians, or a group of people trying to escape into the fantasy of being tribal barbarians, they literally BECOME tribal barbarians by means of simulation. In Baudrillard's own words "simulation threatens the difference between the 'true' and the 'false,' the 'real' and the 'imaginary'" (Baudrillard) and it happens here in an incredible way:
(Morhtag chillin' in the woods with his homeboys.)
As the barbarian horde was preparing for war they continue to do so after slipping into the third order of Simulacre, but as they have slipped into the third order and have become the barbarians of their fantasy reality they go CRAZY on all the other nerds and are beating people with rocks and trying to get all rapey with those poor LARP wenches.
The best part of this entire movie is watching these people slip in and out of the orders of simulacre and seeing the barbarians as they descend completely into the simulation. While my review in this article may have come off a bit silly the movie itself is masterfully and tactfully done and I'd recommend it to any of you who cheated and peeked at these spoilers.
I'd even go as far as to suggest it as class material for a course on Baudrillard. Hint Hint.
Hint Hint Hint Hint.