Equilibrium Director: Kurt Wimmer The film Equilibrium, directed by Kurt Wimmer, illustrates a world without emotions and how higher forms of control define a society. The idea of control is shown though the main character John Preston (Christian Bale). John Preston is the Top Gun Kata cleric. Initially he forgot to take a dose of Prozium (a drug which removes emotions from ones system). This mistake gives Preston an opportunity to change both his and all Librians lives. His choices and views change and we can clearly see these changes through the plot, costumes, music and most importantly cinematography.
Preston eventually gains free will and the choices he makes contribute to the redemption of Libria. Wimmer crafts ideas of the media controlling a society and how it is important to stand up for ones individuality. The movie is set in a fictional town called Libria. It is ruled by the Tetragrammaton government and Father. Sense offenders those who are able to feel are exterminated by Grammaton Clerics. The film begins with a raid in the Nethers, where the sense offenders live. The scene is dim, dull and gloomy.
Wimmer has done a great job with the camera work in the film to portray certain messages. The camera slowly pans over a vivid painting which symbolises life and emotion. Paintings and feelings are illegal in the society and punishable by death. The sense offenders guard a few remaining artefacts left by hiding them inside a room. The sense offenders desperately protect the illegal content because they are the remains from pre – world war three. The audience is then shown a wide shot of a group of Grammaton clerics about to enter the building.
The group enter the building enclosing around the offenders. The clerics have orders from the fascist government to exterminate all sense offenders. The lawbreakers are slaughtered and all other objects of emotional content are destroyed. These two shots are important as they show who is fighting in the war and why the war is occurring. The law of Libria requires all Librians to take a daily dose of Prozium. After the raid Preston takes Mary O’Brien (Emily Watson) a sense offender into custody for questioning. Her words are memorable as she compares the difference in their lives.
Hers is worth living because she has emotions whereas his is just “a clock ticking”. Preston contemplates Mary’s words as they give him more choice than the current society holds. He is infused with emotions and his views on life change ultimately confusing him. When Preston revisits the Nethers he approached a room full of illegal content. His newfound emotions give him curiosity and he plays a record – Beethoven. The power of the music helps justify Preston’s choice to bring change to Libria and the world. Jurgen, the head of the resistance fighters meets with Preston.
They form a plan to overthrow Father and the government in order to give all Librians free will. The costumes have been used throughout the film to help create thought provoking ideas of how emotions define a society. At the beginning of the film Preston always wears dark gloves. Preston takes his gloves off after he stops taking prozium. There is an effective image of Preston sliding his bare hand across a bullet shot wall. It is shown he explores how to feel when he slides his hand across the wall. This shows the audience how Preston gains a sense of touch.
The Gun Kata and Grammaton clerics a new arm of the law always wear very conservative clothing. The audience is unable to connect to the Gun Kata as they appear desensitised. The costumes emphasise how they are emotionless and powerful. At the end of the film when Preston is fighting the Tetragrammaton government and Father, he wears an all white pristine uniform. This use of costume strongly symbolises good versus evil. It also makes Preston seem god like and powerful as he is the saviour of Libria. An example of good vs. evil is when DuPont begs for his life staring up at Preston.
Preston takes DuPont’s life in revenge of Mary’s death. Preston now has smeared blood upon his white uniform, symbolising that he has blood on his hands. The camerawork has been crafted through the film to portray the idea of control. In Low angle shots, Father appears on large screens in the town of Libria. This is significant as it shows the power and status Father has over the people. The director uses high shots to show Father looking down on his puppet, Preston. This shot expresses Father’s power and presence is higher than Preston’s.
There are close up’s of John injecting Prozium into his system. This illustrates how the Tetragrammaton Government has the unconscious power to make one take drugs. This may be to prevent a fourth world war like the government states or possibly other intentions of making sure the people are powerless. If the Librians have no emotions they have no free will. These effective shots work incredibly well considering Wimmer’s minimal budget. The Music has been used from beginning to end to show internal and external conflicts.
In the first scene the music sounded dark and unnatural; the sense offenders are shown in a building guarding a painting. The music then changed to an upbeat orchestral symphony; and Preston is shown outside the building. The music then becomes dark and dangerous again. This use of music has been used by the director to show how the painting means life. The dark music is used to emphasise the eerie feeling that Preston gives showing the audience he’s mysterious and dangerous. Initially the film has very dull and quiet music in the background.
When Preston gains feeling and emotions the music becomes more upbeat and louder. This highlights the change that Preston experiences. It is a powerful use of music as it is a link that feelings are what music sounds like. It also shows how the change has been for the better as at the start of the film the music was eerie and towards the middle and end the music was happy and upbeat. Wimmer did a remarkable job of portraying a society where people live their lives with no emotions. He demonstrates how media and higher forms of power control the perceptual world.
The media shown in the film like The Mona Lisa and Beethoven demonstrate what would be missing in society. If they were destroyed, how the propaganda of a government would take away more life than what they proclaim they are saving. It also shows us that it is important to always fight for ones free will and never let the media take that away from one. In today’s society days media judges how we should look and act yet the masses conform to this media. The masses conform in order to not be socially shunned. Yet it is critical to remember to frequently take a stand for our individuality like John Preston.
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