Spilling Blood For Your Pleasure

Living Journalism

Spilling Blood For Your Pleasure

​​​​​​​Blood is a powerful visual tool in cinema, often associated with danger and pain. While horror films may immediately come to mind when we think of blood, the blood use extends beyond that genre. Even the sight of a small drop of blood can trigger a physical response known as a vasovagal syndrome, which can cause dizziness due to a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate.

Filmmakers leverage the power of blood to create memorable and impactful scenes where protagonists must choose between running away or fighting. For instance, in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the hero engages in a fight with a stronger opponent and is injured. A single drop of blood running down his forehead and his eyes full of terror perfectly captures his dilemma.

Moreover, blood often conveys a sense of urgency and tension in action scenes. For example, Quentin Tarantino's films, such as Kill Bill, use blood to amplify the brutality of the action, heightening the audience's adrenaline rush. The artistic use of blood in cinema is also notable. For instance, bloodstains on white surfaces can create a visually stunning contrast. American Psycho features a scene in which a character is killed in a room with white walls, while Django Unchained shows bloodstains on cotton flowers in a setting depicting the Slaver South of the United States. Overall, blood is a versatile tool that can elicit a range of emotional responses in audiences and contribute to the overall impact of a film.

Blood as art

In the horror genre, as mentioned earlier, blood serves a similar purpose, but its usage varies from movie to movie, sometimes being more gruesome than others. In the movie It: Chapter Two, for instance, a staggering 5000 gallons (approximately 19000 liters) of fake blood were used in a scene. The Shining is also well-known for its iconic moment when a massive wave of blood bursts out of an elevator and inundates the room.

However, blood is not only confined to horror movies, as exemplified by Tarantino's Kill Bill duology, where it is utilized to showcase the sheer brutality of the scenes, thereby heightening the audience's adrenaline. In The Shining, the blood wave is intended to evoke terror and augment the movie's claustrophobic ambience.

Moreover, blood is often employed for artistic purposes in movies. For instance, a frame with snow-white walls splattered with vivid scarlet blood droplets is visually stunning due to the sharp contrast between the two elements. This technique is frequently used in movies, as in American Psycho, where Patrick Bateman slaughters his friend in a living room with white walls, and Django Unchained, where bloodstains contrast against cotton flowers in the Slaver South of the United States.

Different audience, different blood

Filmmakers must be mindful of the unique atmosphere of each movie and reflect it in their use of blood. For instance, Game of Thrones features numerous brutal and explicit scenes, with a lot of blood used for the sake of realism, drawing inspiration from medieval times. However, some shows avoid depicting blood openly, as an R-rating may limit their potential audience.

Pirates of the Caribbean is a prime example of this. Despite the series featuring intense fighting scenes, only a few drops of blood are shown in the first movie. It is, in some ways, ironic. The monsters in the movies are terrifying, and they are everywhere. Men are literally growing together with the ship while slowly going crazy: the fate that awaits them is much worse than death. The protagonists fight undead creatures that do not have blood, enabling directors to showcase violence without the need for an R-rating. Similarly, many Marvel movies depict heroes battling robots or aliens, avoiding human fatalities or showing them off-screen to maintain a moral code.

However, some actions can still make characters morally corrupt in the Marvel universe. For example, John Walker's killing of an enemy with his bare hands in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier portrays him as such. Ultimately, filmmakers must consider the unique tone of their movies and use blood accordingly, be it for realism, censorship, or morality.

The All-American moral code is a prominent theme in many superhero series and comics, where the dilemma of killing or not killing is often a central struggle for the hero. Examples include Batman and Daredevil.

The Meaning of Blood

People have different reactions to the sight of blood. Some individuals see it only as a part of the human body, while others are more sensitive to it. Our response also depends on the context in which it is shown. Natural nosebleeds or blood sampling are different from depictions of real and dangerous injuries. Personal experiences and personality also influence our reactions.

Despite its many symbolic meanings, blood remains a potent and often frightening image. It represents fatal injury and death, and the sight of it can induce panic in some individuals. In action movies, characters who are shot often say their last words before dying as blood pours out of their wounds. Blood is also associated with pain, as seen in scenes of torture inflicted on characters such as Rambo being cut in his first movie or enslaved persons being whipped in Cloud Atlas.

Filmmakers often use blood as a visual representation of the consequences of violence. Physical injuries and the spilling of blood indicate that someone has been a victim of violent acts. However, blood can also be used in a positive sense, such as to symbolize one's bloodline and destiny. For instance, a young prince destined to rule who carries a legacy in his blood. In the Star Wars saga, Luke Skywalker has to confront his father's misdeeds and grapples with his own ability to control the Force, which he inherited through his family bloodline.

Moreover, blood can represent life and vitality. It sustains us and keeps us healthy, making it a vital part of our existence. When vampires extract blood from someone, they are essentially stealing their life force so that they can extend their own existence. Similarly, when we lose blood, we are losing a part of our life force. In many supernatural stories, blood is used to evoke unholy powers or to summon demonic entities. This is exemplified in Pan's Labyrinth, in which a young girl combines a mandrake plant (associated with witchcraft) with her own blood and milk to give strength to her ailing mother.

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