The 3 Most Well-Directed Movie Deaths of 2012

November 23, 2012 10:41 am

If you haven’t already guessed from the title: SPOILERS! Got it? OK, I’ll begin.

Picking the three most well-directed deaths for this article was harder than I thought. There have been several heartfelt deaths (Agent Phil Coulson from Avengers Assemble), mind-blowing deaths (Jesse getting turned inside out by the Rainmaker in Looper) and some deaths that are just plain cool (pretty much any bad guy from the Raid or Dredd). But eventually I whittled it down to three gems.

3 – M, SKYFALL 

Arguably the key talking point of the new Bond film is Judi Dench standing down from the role as M. It is hard to imagine the pressure on new director Sam Mendes’ head, as he not only had to save the Bond franchise from bankruptcy, but had to create a fitting end for one of the more influential characters in recent Bond history. And he succeeded in this daunting task. The death was only a part of the power of Judi Dench’s farewell. Dench performs best as M, when she is on the back foot, defending herself from self-obsessed bureaucrats and politicians. She is in the wrong, but holds her dignity well. It is a path that eventually leads to her death and in hindsight, we realise that Mendes has been taking us on an emotional journey in order to say goodbye to M. The best part of M’s death, however, is when her name is revealed to be Emma. There is a horrifying moment, when we know that now her secret is out, she is going to die. Haunting, stunning. Perfect.

2 – STEPHANIE’S FAMILY, SINISTER

 When Sinister opened, the audiences are introduced to a chilling scene, where a family are slowly hung on a tree in the garden. The shot does not cut away, as the hanging commences. We are forced to watch them slowly suffocate, until the last twitch of their legs. It is, without a doubt, the most mind-blowing start to a horror film I’ve seen yet.

But the mastery of the death doesn’t stop there. The hanging of the family is shown several times throughout the film, as the protagonist, Ellison studies the gruesome home video. Soon, it becomes nothing more than a backdrop to the film, something to play in the background, while the action plays out. And then it hits you, that the director, Scott Derrickson, has desensitized you to this twisted murder. He has taken the most horrific thing he could think of and made the audiences adopt it as normality. That takes skill as a director.

1 – BANE, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES 

Bane’s death would have split the viewers in two. I reckon several of the fans were disappointed that after a film showing off Bane as the unbeatable villain, he got finished off by Catwoman shooting him, when his back was turned. And afterwards, the film rocketed on, without so much as another thought spared for the once mighty super villain.

But this is Christopher Nolan directing here and in a masterpiece like the Dark Knight trilogy, we have to think of why he did this, rather than writing him off as a terrible director, because, it is safe to agree that he is definitely not. After Bane was defeated (defeated, not killed), we learn that he is not the puppet-master we thought he was and not much more than a henchman for Talia Al Ghul, true leader of the League of Shadows. He was acting out of love for Talia, a love, we know she manipulated, as she had done the same with Bruce Wayne, earlier in the film. Then moments later, he is killed and removed from the film. A tool no longer needed. There is something sad about that, which makes Bane a much deeper character.

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  • If you have not seen the film and therefore did not consider it, I apologise, but I would regard Amour (Haneke, 2012), as one of the best-directed films on the subject. If your particularly interested in looking at death on screen (particularly away from genre pieces like the ones you mention in your article, which do away with death in the same way Skyfall quickly sidelines some glaring ideological concerns) Amour is certainly up there with the most poignant reflections on death (see: Tokyo Story or Pather Panchali as examples of more ‘established’ texts).

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