“No” and the Spectacle of the Unknown — CERCLE MARISTE
For humans, the unknown is oddly multidimensional and sometimes contradictory. In many ways, this represents an opportunity for exploration; Newly discovered lands throughout history have given millions of people the opportunity to build new lives, and new technologies have given unlimited access to countless knowledge. The unknown can also hold great horrors incomprehensible to the human imagination, leading people to be more ambivalent about stepping into murkier waters.
Nope, the latest film from director Jordan Peele, is a gloriously horrifying dive into the many facets of the unknown. It follows the journey of the Haywood siblings, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer), who run a ranch in California fighting over which horses to use on Hollywood sets. They are the descendants of the black man who rode the horse in one of Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering animations, but this jockey’s name remains shrouded in mystery (Peele took a few creative freedoms in this). The Haywoods want to build on that legacy regardless, elevating their struggling business using the undiscovered identity of their ancestor.
However, an imposing threat stands in the way. A seemingly otherworldly force of nature haunts the ranch, causing power outages and dropping debris from the sky. He also seems to have a strong liking for horses, further disparaging the foundation of the business; the vacuum of knowledge regarding the otherworldly force threatens to destroy the Haywood Ranch which was built on decades of progress in an attempt to revive the unknown identity of Muybridge’s animation ‘first movie star’ . It’s a stark demonstration of how the unknown can lead to both great fortune and terrible tragedy.
The Haywood siblings are driven to uncover the secrets of all that lurks above their ranch and purchase a camera system with the goal of documenting it in footage they can market and sell. It turns out that Ricky “Skirt” Park (Steven Yeun), the owner of a small nearby theme park, is also interested in the object. He wants to use it as a new paid attraction, regardless of the potential consequences of harnessing a deeply threatening force. What begins as an already ingenious twist on the “great american UFO storybecomes an expert examination of how people engage in sensationalism.
The nature of spectacle is thoroughly explored in Nope, and Peele goes to great lengths to demonstrate how far humans will go to observe and commercialize it. The main characters have complex reasoning to chase after the show, with overlapping reasoning that avoids a simple hero-villain dynamic. Siblings Haywood and Jupe Park both want to use the bizarre UFO scene for monetary gain, with the former wanting to get the footage to the media and the latter putting on a circus-style display for live audiences. What sets these nearly identical patterns apart is the context in which they are implemented, painting a complicated picture of how the use of similar means for similar ends can vary in terms of acceptability depending on who takes the stock.
One of the best parts of the film is how Peele bases these abstract concepts on pure entertainment value. Even with his exploration of complex themes, Nope is a horror thriller first and its priority is to draw viewers into its deeply disturbing world. It accomplishes this feat through its extraordinarily crafted atmosphere and countless terrifying scenes facilitated by superb visuals by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema.
There’s a potentially deliberate irony in Peele’s most ambitious and visually complex film, with the biggest budget being commentary on spectacle. Combined with elaborate marketing country, Nope is apparently a perfect example of the issue it satirizes. In reality, this mirrors OJ and Emerald’s own quest to hunt the UFO for monetary gain: their motive may be identical to the more antagonistic Jupe’s, but the goal is to build their ranch’s legacy. in trouble. The movie itself uses the show as a vehicle to critique the show because there’s nothing more sensationalized than UFOs abducting horses in the middle of nowhere, and like viewers of the movie, we gladly pay for stand in awe as the show unfolds.
Alien stories regularly capitalize on the spectacle of the unknown, but the genius of Nope lies in its ability to tell several extremely engaging stories at once. The Otherworldly Menace is an achievement in its own right when it comes to its presentation, but equally intriguing is the journey of the Haywood siblings as they seek to rescue their ancestor from darkness. Each aspect is both empowering and chilling, and creates a wonderfully dark work of art worth revisiting.