Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blood Red Movie Massacres

by Loren Coleman ©2012
July 22nd is the anniversary of the 1934 death of John Dillinger, who was killed in front of a movie theater, Chicago's Biograph, after watching the film Manhattan Melodrama. Dillinger was betrayed by the "Woman in Red," a madam (Ana Cumpănaş, also known as Anna Sage) wearing an orange dress, which looked red under the theater's lights.
In Michael Mann's 2009 Public Enemies, Christian Bale (shown) plays FBI man Mervin Purvis, Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger, Branka Katic plays Anna Sage, and Marion Cotillard plays Billie Frechette (shown at top as Dillinger's other woman in red). Bale and Cotillard have significant leading roles in The Dark Knight Rises.
In the film Dillinger saw the night he died, Manhattan Melodrama, Clark Gable (shown) plays the gangster-gambler Blackie Gallagher. The movie's finale has Gallagher being put to death in the electric chair for murder. The back story of Gallagher and his brother by adoption is one of two orphans, and parallels Batman and many other DC and Marvel superheroes. Indeed, they are twice orphaned in one of the strangest twists in movie fiction. The boys are adopted as orphans by Poppa Rosen for a short while. But then Rosen (meaning = roses, red), a Russian Jew, is trampled to death by a policeman's horse after he heckles former Red Army Generalissimo Leon Trotsky at a red Communist rally and a melee breaks out. In the end, Gallagher is the darkness, and his "brother" Jim, who becomes the DA and governor, is the light.

This is also the day of the release of the film Captain America: The First Avenger (a year ago, on July 22, 2011), with the first Nazi machine-gunning scene taking place in Norway, which also mirrors the same day's Breivik's massacre in Norway (July 22, 2011).
Hugo Weaving plays two roles, Johann Schmidt, Adolf Hitler's head of advanced weaponry and the transformed Red Skull commander of the terrorist organization Hydra, in the 2011 film Captain America. Weaving also plays the villain Agent Smith in the three Matrix films and V in V for Vendetta (all films that have resulted in copycat violence).
What we do know is that copycats were certainly a real outcome of the 2008 screening of The Dark Knight. The most infamous was Kim de Gelder, the Dendermonde Joker (shown), who killed two babies and a teacher in a Belgium daycare on January 23, 2009. He dressed like his own personal version of the Joker from The Dark Knight.

We still don't know how the alleged Aurora killer, suspect John Holmes appeared on July 20, 2012, at Theater No. 9. All is pure speculation, and yet the web has gone wild with imagined imagery (see above).
One of the news tidbits that has been revealed about James Eagan Holmes (shown in a photo from his youth) is that besides the reported red hair and goatee, underneath his black body armor, he was wearing red to the midnight showing of The Black Knight Rises. The name Eagan means "fiery."

The Greek Goddess Aurora is sometimes referred to as the "Goddess of the Morning Red." Colorado is Spanish for "red."
Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. Seline (Luna/Moon) is the sister of the Roman goddess Aurora (dawn).
One of the first victims of the Aurora, Colorado shootings identified was Jessica Ghawi, an aspiring sportscaster, who happened to almost have been shot during the recent Toronto's Eaton Mall shooting. She also used the name "Jessica Redfield," a name she created because of her red hair, as she said people remembered that name more easily, since "Ghawi" is difficult to pronounce.

Seven employees of the Red Robin restaurant in Aurora were injured in The Dark Knight Rises shooting (thanks 82-28).

President Barack Obama came to Aurora, Colorado, early on July 22, 2012, to visit with shooting victims and family members. The quotation used by the media reflects an underlying theme in the event.
"It reminds you that even in the darkest of days, life continues and people are strong," the president said, after detailing the recovery of two victims. "Out of this darkness, a brighter day is going to come." [Emphasis added.]

The metaphor to dawn is strong in that simple quote.

For more, see my essay posted later on July 22nd, Red Dawn.

The list

Movies and massacres are nothing new. Here is a compilation (enhanced by me) of theater-related violence, initially published by ABC News and other sources, which I preserve here before it vanishes. It is followed by video clips of Christian Bale talking about The Dark Knight and appearing in American Psycho.

1928 (Burlington, North Carolina): One of the earliest fatal shootings at a theater happened in Burlington, North Carolina and the active shooter is a Holmes. On Tuesday, January 17, 1928, George Washington Holmes, Jr., 30, shot to death Odis Leslie “Ode” Robertson, 34, in the lobby of Burlington's Lyric Theater, before the 7:00 pm showing of The Naked Truth (1924).

1934 (Chicago): Gangster John Dillinger dies in front of the Biograph Theater on July 22nd (see above for more details).

1955 (Chicago): Ex-con shoots rookie cop in a movie theater four miles from the Loop.

1985 (Chicago): Movie-line quarrel ends with one man dead of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

1988 (Southfield, Michigan): In October, two men are shot during an argument near the box office of the Americana.

1989 (New York City): Ricardo Jimenez, 21, kills Sean Worrell, 20, for buying the last bag of popcorn at Tim Burton's 1989 Batman premiere on July 3rd, at the Whitestone Multiplex Cinema. Michael Keaton plays Batman and Jack Nicholson plays The Joker.

1989 (Southfield, Michigan): A man opens fire in the main auditorium of the November 17th opening night of Eddie Murphy's Harlem Nights at the Americana. (Metal detectors were installed and it was reopened in 1990 as the Southfield City 12, and closed forever in 2001.)

1990 (Valley Stream, New York): A 15-year-old was killed and three other bystanders wounded when a shootout (between a group in the front row and one in the back) erupts on Tuesday, December 25th, Christmas Day, during the premiere running of The Godfather Part III at the Sunrise Cinema Multiplex. (2012 media reports this then becomes the first cinema in the country with metal detectors.)

1991 (Chicago): A 23-year-old man is shot at a July premiere showing of Boyz n the Hood.

1991 (Los Angeles and nationwide): Boyz n the Hood sparks shootings that leave 33 injured, in LA, Minneapolis, Universal City, and other locations.

1991 (Seattle): A 15-year-old is stabbed during the premiere weekend at the Lewis & Clark Theater of Boyz n the Hood.

1993 (Brooklyn, New York): 19-year-old man is shot to death during a late screening of Judgment Night.

1998 (Bakersfield, California): Eight people are injured after shooting during I Got the Hookup.

1999 (Seattle): One man shoots another in the stomach during Analyze This.

2002 (Philadelphia): Janitor shot twice in the head in movie theater bathroom.

2006 (Baltimore): A 24-year old man Mujtaba Rabbani Jabbar, a resident of the exclusive Anton North neighborhood, sits behind Paul Schrum, 62, from Pikesville, at the Loews Valley Center 9, shoots Schrum in the head, hollers for everyone to stay down, and then fires three more shots during the showing of X-Men: Last Stand at the Owings Mills multiplex.

2006 (Pittsburgh): A screening of Get Rich or Die Tryin ends when one man fatally shoots another in the lobby after a trip to the restroom.

2008 (Philadelphia): James Joseph Cialella, 29, is charged with shooting the father of a family who he complained was talking during a Christmas Day showing of the Brad Pitt film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Cialella allegedly throws popcorn at the man’s son and then shoots the man in the arm at the Riverview Regal Theater.

2008 (Raleigh, North Carolina): An unidentified masked man tries to rob the Marquee Cinemas Theater, and then fatally shoots the manager Mark Douglas Buhaug, 48.

2010 (Daly City, California): A man shoots three people outside a Bay Area movie theater, including a pregnant woman.

2011 (Tuscaloosa, Alabama): Teen shoots another teen in movie theater parking lot.

2012 (Aurora, Colorado): Alleged suspect James Holmes opens fire at the July 20th midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring 59 others, in Theater 9 and through collateral damage, at the Century 16 Theaters.

Credit: ABC News, Hollywood Reporter, and via other research and sources.

Christopher Loring Knowles had this to say in his "Dark Knight of Our Soul, or The New Ambulance Chasers":

I do know that is just more bad news attached to a Christopher Nolan film. This is a guy who puts forward psychopaths as his protagonists (Following, Memento, The Prestige) and cast a guy previously best known as Bateman, the American Psycho as Batman....I do know this is a guy who revels in fascist, brutalizing imagery and themes in his work.
I do know that he deliberately created a brand new archetype with his Joker, the real protagonist of The Dark Knight. A figure of pure, wanton destruction- the killer that every Jugalo would love to be when they grow up. This was pure psychological manipulation of the worst kind, and has had terrible real world results.

 Bale on Batman


Bale as Bateman



Mike Clelland! said...

I was raised in Southfield Michigan, the site of the 1989 theater shooting.

Mike C

Red Pill Junkie said...

I think Knowles is giving Nolan far too much credit. He should remember Jeffrey Kripal's words in Mutants and Mystics, and come to the realization that artists and authors don't really choose to create the work of art.

It's the Art that picks the author, in order to manifest into our world.

The Joker came, because we let him.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

I was watching the movie "Cleopatra" today and had sync after sync while researching about her.To cut to the chase
Cleopatra = Isis = Hathor,who associated with Bast.

Hathor was worshiped by Royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as "Mistress of the West" welcoming the dead into the next life.
Bat was a cow goddess in Egyptian mythology depicted as a human face with cow ears and horns. By the time of the Middle Kingdom, her identity and attributes were subsumed within the goddess Hathor.

Anne Hath(or)away (Hathor)
plays Catwoman (Bast)in the Batman (Bat) movie "The Dark Knight Rises".

Take a look at the image of Hathor in the red dress on the Wikipedia page,and tell me that doesn't resemble Anne Hathaway.

Voma said...

9 or 10 years old being an appropriate age to watch TDK? Eh...

Mike Clelland! said...

More on Jessica Redfield, and the color RED.

82_28 said...

7 Red Robin employees injured in theater shooting

Red Pill Junkie said...

@ 82_28:

I have wrote a bit about a certain link between Jessica Redfield, and Puck, the Trickster character in the play A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Puck goes also by the name Robin Goodfellow.

Thanks for the link. And BTW, I myself experienced my palindromic year in 2011 (73-37) ;)

Mark said...

>RPJ & A Midsummer Night's Dream

There's another Shakespeare bit here.

The actress Marion Cotillard appears in Loren's post from PUBLIC ENEMIES and she is also in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. In TDKR Marion Cotillion plays a character named "Miranda" of course the daughter's name in THE TEMPEST. An often quoted line from TDKR is "There's a storm coming..."

Interestingly, Wikipedia describes the play THE TEMPEST saying in part, "...Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place by using illusion and skilful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero's usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda..."

Shakespeare wrote THE TEMPEST about a skilled magician using illusion and trickery to restore balance to politics and family dramas.

I suspect Hollywood writers just grab names and references without knowing too much about what they're doing, but, really, who know?

Mark said...

If I may, for film buffs looking for really odd links, there’s one other odd note about Marion Cotillard.

Casting dark haired French beauty Cotillard as “Miranda” in TDKR seems a kind of bold move. In 1999 another dark haired French beauty, Sophie Marceau, appeared in the James Bond film THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH portraying a very similar character named “Elektra.”

There are other striking similarities in the plots of the two movies. And the filmmakers of TDKR seem to have a laugh about it themselves: When Bruce Wayne visits a doctor, the doctor reviews his extensive injuries and advises him not to go helicopter skiing. In TWINE James Bond visits a doctor who reviews his extensive injuries and the doctor advises him to take it easy for a while but Bond goes off and just a few scenes later is helicopter skiing with the Sophie Marceau character.

Both films, incidentally, portray large-scale seemingly faceless geopolitics as a kind of stage for dynamic empowered families to play out their personal dramas.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Anne Hathaway is also the name of Shakespeare's wife.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

@ Mark
James Bond films,at the opening of the Olympic games Daniel Craig is going to do a big promo for his upcoming Bond movie

Anonymous said...

In the Trailer to the new James Bond Movie "Skyfall", there can be seen at minute 0:40 a big red Text-sign wich says "Aurora" on one of the skyscrapers.

here is the video:

Maybe this is of interest?

Anonymous said...

Mark: You are definitely on to something regarding "The Tempest." I think it links to this event and the London Olympics. One of the closing ceremony events is a major concert in London's Hyde Park. The band Blur will close the show. It's lead singer, Damon Albarn, is also performing his "English opera" called "Dr Dee" about the Elizabethan magician who inspired Shakespeare to create the Prospero character.

... said...

You could add Lee Harvey Oswald and the Texas Theatre 1963 to your list of theatre related crimes.


purrlgurrl said...

A digression, but . . . the name Holmes has certainly captured the attention of the media and the public over the past month. What connection(s) do you see there, if any?

Loren Coleman said...

For more on Holmes, see my posting for July 23rd:

Anonymous said...

Found this which brings in the 'red' aspect agaisn and also the mention of chemicals - (Holmes' flat? )

The Golden Age Joker was finally given an origin 1951, in the February issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, in a story “The Man Behind the Red Hood!” It seems that The Joker was once a criminal known as The Red Hood. When The Batman cornered Hood at the Monarch Playing Card Company, TRH dove into a vat of chemicals to escape and a body was never found.

The chemical bath did affect TRH by turning his skin white, hair green, and lips red. He renamed himself “The Joker” and the rest is history

Anonymous said...

Lovely sychronicity. Just like Jessica's story, you couldn't write it.

Anonymous said...

It is true that Joker does have an origin story in DC but the company is not known for its continuity. Many writers since then have gone back to the mystery history of the Joker. The Joker does remain The Red Hood in an alternate universe in DC however. In that universe The Red Hood is a good guy while Owlman(Batman) is the bad guy.

Maybe Holmes didn't see himself as the villain, but as the hero or savior. Ras Al Gul from the first Nolan Batman movie was destroying empires to make the world better. In The Dark Knight the Joker thinks that Chaos is what is best for the world and sees himself as neither good nor bad, just necessary.

Judas Disney said...

Woman In Red Becomes Symbol of Protest In Turkey