Day 3: Repo! The Genetic Opera

A choreographer, who recently had open heart surgery, attempted to goad me into a fight at a rehearsal last night because a student put a chair in the wrong place on stage. He succeeded in getting my friend, who was working with me on staging the ballads, to quit the show. This can't be a normal theater situation, right? Wouldn't a mouthy, fight-picking choreographer not be invited back to work every show? On the plus side, a professional lighting designer was brought in to insure the students in the lighting booth aren't practicing their cues on a paying audience. 50 new lights are being hung in addition to what we have already; fancy lighting for, as the designer said, "a really spectacular rock show." Repo! The Genetic Opera: Day 3 For this last portion of the investigation of Repo! The Genetic Opera, I thought it would be interesting to examine the look of the film. It is, after all, a major source of the criticism against the film. Some that saw it in theaters thought the stock was awful because some scenes were blurred while others weren't; the lighting and color design also shifted between different tones of the same families. To put it another way, all the colors in a column are the same color; the tone is the only difference: I can understand confusion when the film starts with the first row of red, then jumps to the fifth row of red, then switches back the first row and lightens slowly to the third row throughout the scene. The best way of understanding the visual scheme of Repo! is to imagine it's a comic book film; not in the Spiderman or Iron Man sense, but in the 300 or Sin City sense. Repo! is all about visual storytelling to enhance musical storytelling. There's a reason an apartment building before a gore scene... has a very different look than a scene with zydrate junkies in an alley... Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this color storytelling is found in the work of Dario Argento. Known for the beautiful cinematography in his brutal gialli films, Argento consistently changes the expected reaction to a scene with the use of color. Many of the cues in Repo! seem influenced by the look of Suspiria, particularly the saturated hues before the big scare/jump scenes: Notice how the colors, when taken out of context, look unrealistic. No hallway, especially in a dance school, would be lit red from wall to wall; that stained glass window would neither produce that much light at night nor diffuse into that particular gradient color pattern. But that's not the point. Argento created a vision of a nightmare. Repo! director Bousman does the same in his film. The purpose in Repo! is to break off the dark side of GeneCo's organ loans (repomen, graverobbers, zydrate junkies) from the public image (Blind Mag, clean suits, dramatic lighting) from the true face of the company (gray areas everywhere, confrontations, manipulation). The distinction threw people off, for certain, but there's a reason for the shifting look. Some other unique characteristics? Much of the transitions are accomplished through an animated comic book style, similar to the back story sequence of O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill Vol. 1. The film also mashes great practical set design with computer processing to really make the most of a limited budget. And I would be remiss to ignore the excellent practical effects, oozing in blood and style that punctuate some of the most entertaining sequences of the film. Repo! works exceptionally well as a horror film because of this commitment to a distinct, purposeful visual style. And that will end the discussion of Repo! The Genetic Opera. Return on Tuesday for a new weekly topic and please enjoy Zydrate Anatomy:

Labels: color, dario argento, Darren Lynn Bousman, kill bill, Repo The Genetic Opera, suspiria

Weekly Theme: The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Repo! The Genetic Opera: Part 2: Cast Contributions