Juxtaposing Screenshots: Freddie Quell and Superman
I like the juxtaposition of these shots of Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) and Superman (Henry Cavill) turning their faces toward the sun in, respectively, Paul Thomas Anderson's “The Master” (2012) and Zack Snyder's upcoming “Man of Steel” (2013):
Almost the same image. Then you run through the differences:
- Freddie is on a South Seas island at the end of World War II; Superman is in the Arctic, presumably at the beginning of his journey.
- Superman gathers his strength from the sun; Freddie ... well, I'm not sure what his strength is.
- Superman is wish-fulfillment fantasy, Freddie a sad PTSD reality.
- The angle of Freddie's shot is skewed, as is he; the Superman shot is more conventional, and takes advantage of Cavill's handsome face.
- “The Master” grossed $16 million domestic and $28 million worldwide; “Man of Steel” will gross that before we wake up on June 14.
There's this, too. Though he needs to belong, though he needs comfort, Freddie ultimately rejects the wish-fulfillment fantasies of Lancaster Dodd, while we surely will not reject the wish-fulfillment fantasies of “Man of Steel.” In this way, Freddie Quell, bent, childish, the anti-sexy-symbol of post-WWII America, is, in e.e. cummings' words, more brave than me, more blonde than you.