Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Crow - Synopsis:
Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) comes home to fine his beloved soul mate Shelly being brutally raped on the floor of their apartment by a gang of mob rats who where sent to scare them out of their apartment. The mob rats turn on Eric and he is tortured and thrown from the window to his death. The police officer on the case takes a personal interest and develops a close relationship with the young girl who was a close friend of the tragic pair. A year later, when a strange man clad in black and harlequin painted face starts to kill off the mob rats one by one, the two friends work together and uncover the incredible truth that will lead them on a haunting and beautiful journey.
Tragic Victim: Brandon Lee
"On March 31, 1993, while making The Crow, the crew filmed a scene in which Lee's character walked into his apartment and discovered his girlfriend being raped by thugs. Actor Michael Massee, who played one of the film's villains, was supposed to fire a gun at Lee as he walked into his apartment with groceries.
Because the movie's second unit team was running behind schedule, it was decided that dummy cartridges (cartridges that outwardly appear to be functional, but contain no gunpowder) would be made from real cartridges. A cartridge with only a primer and a bullet was fired in the pistol prior to the scene. It caused a squib load, in which the primer provided enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel of the revolver, where it became stuck.
The malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was used again later to shoot the death scene, having been re-loaded with blanks. Nevertheless, the squib load was still lodged in the barrel, and was propelled by the blank cartridge's explosion out of the barrel and into Lee's body. Although the bullet was traveling much more slowly than a normally fired bullet would be, the bullet's large size and the extremely short firing distance made it powerful enough to fatally wound Lee.
When the blank was fired, the bullet shot out and hit Lee in the abdomen and lodged in his spine. He fell down instantly and the director shouted "Cut!", but Lee did not respond. The cast and crew filming rushed to him and noticed he was wounded. He was immediately rushed to the hospital, Lee’s heart had stopped once on the set and once in the ambulance on the way. Following a six hour operation to remove the bullet and despite being given 60 pints of blood, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:30pm on March 31, 1993.
His funeral was held several days later; he was buried next to his father in Lake View Cemetery, Seattle. The following day, a memorial service was held in Los Angeles.
The shooting was ruled an accident, although many fans suspected foul play. The theory of the Lee "family curse" was also carried over from Bruce Lee's death to Brandon's, as he had died almost 20 years after his father and before the release of the film which catapulted him to stardom." -- Wikipedia
The Dark Knight synopsis:
"Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) continues to eliminate crime in Gotham City with the help of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The Dark Knight wants to finally get rid of organized crime for good and be free of their corruption. Batman soon finds that a new psychopathic mastermind known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) has taken over organized crime. After the fall of Carmine Falcone, the remaining crime bosses try to pick up the pieces. However, the Joker is killing them off one by one. The Joker's plan is to terrify the citizens and throw the city into chaos, and then kill Batman. Batman takes the fight with the Joker personal, which makes him confront his own beliefs. The Joker is the most dangerous criminal that Batman has encountered, and he will need all his strength and vigilance to defeat him." -- IMDB
Tragic Victim: Heath Ledger
"At about 2:45 PM on January 22, 2008, Ledger was found unconscious in his fourth-floor loft apartment, at 421 Broome Street, in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Emergency crews arrived soon after but were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at 3:36 PM, and his body removed from the apartment, while crowds of onlookers began gathering outside throughout that night.
After two weeks of intense media speculation about possible causes of his death, on 6 February 2008, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York released its conclusions, based on an initial autopsy of January 23, 2008, and a subsequent complete toxicological analysis. The report concludes, in part, "Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine." It also states definitively: "We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications." The medications found in the toxicological analysis are commonly prescribed in the United States for insomnia, anxiety, depression, pain, and/or cold symptoms. The Medical Examiner's Office also announced that it would not be publicly disclosing the official estimated time of death. The official announcement of the cause of Ledger's death heightened concerns about general "abuse of prescription medications." Late in February 2008, a still-ongoing DEA investigation of medical professionals "cleared" two American medics, who practice in Los Angeles and Houston, of "any wrongdoing," determining that "the doctors in question had prescribed Ledger other medications – not the pills that killed him."" -- Wikipedia
Was the added popularity of The Dark Knight at the box office due to the untimely death of Heath Ledger? One can only speculate as the box office earnings of The Dark Knight had Ledger not over-dosed on prescription meds. Batman Begins took in over 448 million at the box office on its opening weekend. While The Dark Knight took in $75.6 million on its opening weekend. Was the added attention of Heath Ledger's death and possible psychological issues with the character an incentive for prospective movie goers?
After the media blitz, in 1994, regarding the accidental shotting of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow many viewers viewed the movie merely because of the then speculation of where in the movie Lee was murdered. Report of the exact scene was later released months after the movie left theaters.
So what was the draw? What led millions of viewers to movies that contained scenes of an actors last moments of life?
Death. Plain and simple. People are fascinated by it. People will always be fascinated by it. What makes it ever more appealing is that it happened to someone in the prime of their life. Joe Everybody. And it haunts people.
In Twilight Zone - The Movie, produced by Steven Spielberg and individual segments directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller, the film is perhaps best known for the helicopter accident which took the lives of actor Vic Morrow and two illegally-hired child actors during the filming of Landis' segment. The deaths led to high-profile legal action, although in the subsequent trial no one was held criminally culpable for the accident. It was the same media blitz and the same reports of a movie set "curse."
While the truth is, there is no "curse" to speak of. Accidents at work and deaths related to work are not that uncommon. According to a report put out by the American Journal for Public Health in 2000, "in the United States, approximately 65,000 workers die each year of work-related illnesses and injuries, a total of more than 180 work-related deaths each day. Work-related death remains a pressing public health issue in the United States and throughout the world."
So what do we take away from this?
Heath Ledger was not killed by the Joker, like a lot of quick press tabloids will point out. He was killed by stress and possible poor judgment on mixing prescription medication. We've all been there. Sick, with no-one to take care of us, medication and high stress level. It can be a potentially fatal cocktail.