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Take Shelter (2011)

Jeff Nichols

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#21 Attica

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 10:45 PM

But the moments of sheer impending doom here, whether psychological or not, are on full force, and are captured in a much more meaningful way than in Melancholia.

Spoiler




I think your right, the sense of impending doom was captured in a more meaningful way than Melancholia, and it's possibly at least partially because the wife's character was so well realized, and really grounded the story. I would think that when the story displays such a good family, and a basically good community surrounding him, there would be more of a sense of impending doom, because we feel that there is more to lose. This film brought me to emphasizing with the characters, while Melancholia didn't bring me much past the point of observing it's characters.

Also as mentioned on the Melancholia thread there is some questioning as to whether or not that film really cared about the character in her struggle with mental illness. There is no doubt in this film, and the fact that the film/filmmakers care about the characters is palpable.

Edited by Attica, 21 March 2012 - 03:06 PM.


#22 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:50 AM

The cloud in the pictures looks kind of like the cloud from A Serious Man. If it is, it might just win the award for Best Crossover Ever.

After seeing this tonight, I think Take Shelter has another thing in common with A Serious Man and I don't think anyone in this thread has even mentioned it yet. You know all those comments on how A Serious Man was essentially part of the book of Job, only set in modern day times? Well, I think we just got the most powerful version of the story of Noah, except set in modern day times. What else would it look like finding yourself to be a prophet who everyone else starts believing is falling into madness?

#23 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:17 AM

Hmmm, that's quite brilliant, I think.

#24 John Drew

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:50 AM

More powerful than Evan Almighty?!?!

yep... yep... That's a fantastic observation.

[standing ovation]
=D> =D> =D>
[/standing ovation]

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 20 February 2012 - 09:55 AM.


#25 John

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:51 AM

I finally caught up with this, and I was tracking with it for thebulk of its run time despite its glacial pacing, which I thought was just asmidge too slow and repetitive for Nichols' purposes. The way that Nicholsgrays the line between madness and the true visionary is appropriatelyunsettling.

Spoilers Ahead

In the final sequence, Nichols really pulled the rug out fromunder us, but not in a way that really fit with what went before. The realclimax of the film—when the family ran to the shelter—was much more powerfuland rewarding than anything in the final sequence. The resurrection imageryimplicit in his finally coming out of the ground works extremely well—even withthe knowledge that he has snapped and will need help to get better.

Further, if this is a reworking of the Noah story for contemporarytimes, than it is a much more disturbing reworking even than the biblical story(which involves the decimation of virtually all of humanity). Here, if Curtisis a modern-day Noah, we are left with either a weak Noah that lacksconviction, thereby getting himself and his family killed, and/or a malevolentor powerless God who leaves Noah hundreds of miles from his shelter when thestorm finally arrives. Not saying the connection to Noah is a poor one, butrather with that in mind, it makes the film potentially even darker than I hadinitially thought. In this light, this is a film that tells us no matterwhat we do, we will be overtaken by the storm, and that our great hope is thatwe can die together in the face of senseless terror. I just have a hard timeswallowing that.



#26 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 03:54 PM

Your thoughts about the ending echo my own, John.

It's not the grimness of the ending that troubles me as much as I find it too easy. There were many exciting directions that this story could have gone, but the film chooses one of the less-interesting roads and goes for a finale that's fashionably nihilistic rather than genuinely thought-provoking and challenging.

#27 Nick Olson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:27 PM

Nihilistic?

#28 Overstreet

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:28 PM

Wow, I really, really disagree.

I had this conversation a while back on Facebook.

While I agree that the conclusion doesn't feel as powerfully executed as the earlier rush of the storm shelter scene, I think this conclusion is necessary.

The movie is about, in many ways, Curtis's common overdeveloped sense of masculine responsibility, and his common male aversion to cooperation. He sees visions that may be prophecies worth heeding, but he wants to take his family's salvation into his own hands... wreaking havoc on trust, on family harmony, on honesty, on transparency. His reaction to the visions throughout the movie create a storm... a storm of fear and collapsing relationships.

But in the end,
Spoiler


At least... that's why I found the conclusion meaningful, if not entirely satisfying in its execution.

I don't find the conclusion nihilistic at all.
Spoiler
It's the ending I would have written.

#29 Attica

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:36 PM

Wow, I really, really disagree.

I had this conversation a while back on Facebook.

While I agree that the conclusion doesn't feel as powerfully executed as the earlier rush of the storm shelter scene, I think this conclusion is necessary.

The movie is about, in many ways, Curtis's common overdeveloped sense of masculine responsibility, and his common male aversion to cooperation. He sees visions that may be prophecies worth heeding, but he wants to take his family's salvation into his own hands... wreaking havoc on trust, on family harmony, on honesty, on transparency. His reaction to the visions throughout the movie create a storm... a storm of fear and collapsing relationships.

But in the end,

Spoiler


At least... that's why I found the conclusion meaningful, if not entirely satisfying in its execution.

I don't find the conclusion nihilistic at all.
Spoiler
It's the ending I would have written.


**YES** I was actually just gearing up to write something similar. ::cheers::

I never took the ending as being nihlistic, but rather that she saw that he was right and now FULLY stood behind him and understood him (she did try to stand behind him at least a bit before). I also never perceived the film as saying that they were done for at the end, but only that they now had a challenge on their hands that they would go through together, and they would be able to do it together because she had stood behind him (at least to a certain degree) even when there was some debate over whether or not he was right. So now working together they quite likely will have what it takes.

Edited by Attica, 26 February 2012 - 06:01 PM.


#30 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:42 PM

The ending of TAKE SHELTER effectively suggests that if there is some kind of power force guiding us, due to its vagueness we cannot really discern whether it is there or just our own madness, and better just buckle-up and wait for the impending, inevitable annihilation to wash over us, an ending that is seemingly without meaning (one article I read rightly called it a Rorschach apocalypse).

TAKE SHELTER is more paranoid than MELANCHOLIA, but it isn't altogether that different. Whatever God is at work in TAKE SHELTER is a Demiurge.

Edited by Ryan H., 26 February 2012 - 04:49 PM.


#31 Nick Olson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:48 PM

That's Melancholia almost precisely, but I don't think it's Take Shelter...

The difference is that Take Shelter is not making an ontological statement in its final frame. In other words, I don't take the paranoia to be tied to the nature of the way things are...

I do take Justine's depressed melancholy--her functional indifference--to be directly tied to the cosmos.

Melancholia's impending doom expresses meaninglessness; Take Shelter uses impending doom to express something meaningful.

Edited by Nicholas, 26 February 2012 - 04:52 PM.


#32 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:58 PM

Melancholia's impending doom expresses meaninglessness; Take Shelter uses impending doom to express something meaningful.

What meaning does TAKE SHELTER suggest with this vague, undefined, impending doom?

#33 Overstreet

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 04:59 PM

The ending of TAKE SHELTER effectively suggests that if there is some kind of power force guiding us, due to its vagueness we cannot really discern whether it is there or just our own madness, and better just buckle-up and wait for the impending, inevitable annihilation to wash over us...


Then why conclude with,
Spoiler


I find the ending of TAKE SHELTER to be very hopeful.

Edited by Overstreet, 26 February 2012 - 05:00 PM.


#34 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:10 PM

Then why conclude with, "Let's go" ? Where would they be going? Why bother, if it's just about waiting for inevitable annihilation? I think the warnings came so that they could "build an ark" (or a shelter). Now that they are working as a family, they have a chance to not only survive, but survive in love.

I'd be able to buy that explanation easier if not for the hurdle presented by the story's geography. Curtis and his family are in Myrtle Beach during the finale. The shelter is in Ohio. That shelter isn't going to be of any use to 'em.

How many times have the prophets served this purpose? Jonah warns a city of annihilation. The city actually responds and repents. But Jonah? His story isn't over until he's learned the lesson that you can be right, but you can also be "damned right." Better to be righteous.

Jonah knew from whom his message was coming. He knew that the message was, in fact, a message. He knew what the message meant as far as what he was to do. so much so that he could ignore it. God was not torturing Jonah the way he tortures Curtis here.

Edited by Ryan H., 26 February 2012 - 05:12 PM.


#35 Nick Olson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:19 PM

Well I agree with Jeffrey's points about the "humbled prophet." When they go underground, the "false" storm is intended to indicate a significant change or movement that has occurred. The film is largely about Chastain's character's devotion to her husband--even when he gives her every reason not to remain committed to him. Jeffrey's comments about the overcooked masculinity prophet seem appropriate as well. Much of the film bears out this emphasis--his drinking and coming home late, his keeping to himself and not being transparent, his taking matters into his own hands--his overall gruffness. Two of the most powerful moments are when he takes the equipment from work and then when his wife finds out that he has lied to her. For me, at least, the film's tension revolves just as much--if not more--around how he relates to his family in the midst of his personal crisis.

On a more personal level, I'm currently working on an essay about a personal sense of impending doom that I've struggled with since becoming a father (I have a one year old son). There is something about this increased responsibility that challenges me with a personal "apocalyptic" sense. Or, put differently, I admit to feeling some mild paranoia in my new role as a father. I also confess that much of my paranoia has subsided since I confided in my wife about some of my late-night worrying. And this last point is essential in the film.

Anyway, my point is that I take the film to be much more about these issues than about the nature of the coming storm itself. To ask what the storm "represents" in the sense of universal purpose/meaning/telos is to miss the point in this case.

And Curtis strikes me as a much more "sane" person after coming from underground. But that could be just me. Admittedly, I'm planning to watch the film again before sending it back to Netflix.

Edited by Nicholas, 26 February 2012 - 05:23 PM.


#36 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:27 PM

Well I agree with Jeffrey's points about the "humbled prophet." When they go underground, the "false" storm is intended to indicate a significant change or movement that has occurred. The film is largely about Chastain's character's devotion to her husband--even when he gives her every reason not to remain committed to him. Jeffrey's comments about the overcooked masculinity prophet seem appropriate as well. Much of the film bears out this emphasis--his drinking and coming home late, his keeping to himself and not being transparent, his taking matters into his own hands--his overall gruffness. Two of the most powerful moments are when he takes the equipment from work and then when his wife finds out that he has lied to her. For me, at least, the film's tension revolves just as much--if not more--around how he relates to his family in the midst of his personal crisis.

On a more personal level, I'm currently working on an essay about a personal sense of impending doom that I've struggled with since becoming a father (I have a one year old son). There is something about this increased responsibility that challenges me with a personal "apocalyptic" sense. Or, put differently, I admit to feeling some mild paranoia in my new role as a father. I also confess that much of my paranoia has subsided since I confided in my wife about some of my late-night worrying. And this last point is essential in the film.

Anyway, my point is that I take the film to be much more about these issues than about the nature of the coming storm itself. To ask what the storm "represents" in the sense of universal purpose/meaning/telos is to miss the point in this case.

The intended emphasis may be on the familial issues, but that just further emphasizes how problematic the finale is. The ending is such that it demands the whole film be examined in the light of the last few moments. You can't have prophetic visions that lead to an apocalypse without those questions coming into play. Since the film isn't designed to support that ending, the ending reduces the film to a muddled mess.

It's a shame, too, since there's a lot to admire in TAKE SHELTER.

Edited by Ryan H., 26 February 2012 - 05:28 PM.


#37 Nick Olson

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:33 PM

How does it muddle things?

Like I said, I've had some mild paranoia since becoming a father, but my confiding in my wife regarding these things does not mean that something bad isn't going to happen...

We all face an impending doom of sorts at some point or another--the film's about how we handle this (particularly as it relates to the familial), and it uses the prophet/apocalypse to explore this issue...

#38 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:36 PM

Obvious Spoilers Ahead:

Edited to add: In fact, you can probably assume, from now on at this point in the thread, that almost every post in this discussion will contain spoilers.

What meaning does TAKE SHELTER suggest with this vague, undefined, impending doom?

Then why conclude with,

Spoiler


I find the ending of TAKE SHELTER to be very hopeful.

It's meaningful precisely because of what turns out to be true and false at the end. Maybe it was because I hadn't read anything before seeing the film, but I spent the first 99% of the film convinced that this was an interesting, well-constructed and well-acted film exploring mental illness. While I acknowledged the truth that a storm was coming as a technical possibility, and Shannon makes you at least consider the possibility for a few seconds in his passionate rant & breakdown at the dinner party, I was convinced, just like his friends and family, that he was mentally ill. The storm that they weather together in the shelter seemed more like an opportunity for him to finally consciously confront his own illness than a lucky coincidence.

When he finally opens that door and they emerge back above ground, it turns out that everyone else in the town weathered (what did turn out to be a moderately damaging storm) just fine without any storm shelters. While all his work and preparation turned out to be a little useful, it also turned out to be practically unnecessary (other than as a means for him to confront his own delusions). By this time, he and wife are both convinced that he is suffering from the same problems that his mother suffered from. His genetic disposition to paranoia has caused all his hallucinations and feelings of disaster that he can't shake off. The hope, at this point, is that, with the help of a very loving wife, he will be able to handle and overcome his own illness in ways that his mother was unable to. If the film had ended right there, it would have still perhaps been one of the best films of the year - a film that sympathetically and realistically portrayed the problems that many people have to confront and explored how these problems are very likely to destroy relationships even in spite of great love and self-sacrifice.

But then, the ending turns all of this on it's head. It was not the ending I expected. Suddenly, the conclusion is that, even if he does have a history of mental illness in his family, and even if he does have a predisposition to it - everything that he was experiencing was for a reason outside of his own mental problems. There were outside forces at work that had warned this man that he had to prepare for the coming storm. The storm that he kept seeing was real. He was prophetic instead of delusional. During his breakdown/rant at that dinner party, he was telling everyone the truth all along - as crazy as it all sounded. The reason he kept seeing things no-one else could see was not because he was mentally ill, instead it was because there were greater things in existence outside of his own self.

To explain how slow I was to realize what was actually happening, at the end, when it becomes evident that his daughter is seeing something, my immediate conclusion was that, "oh no, it's going to end by showing that he has passed down to his daughter the same mental problems that his mother had passed down to him" making the revelation that the storm was actually really arriving all the more surprising. When you read many of the Old Testament prophets, they often give you reason to believe that they were, at times, personally unstable and incredibly prone to doubt the often terrible and horrible things that they had been shown - and that they were supposed to reveal to everyone else. It doesn't sound like Noah was just tasked with building an ark, he was also tasked with preaching and predicting the coming storm to everyone else around him. And doing this would have made him sound, quite frankly, like a loon.

The ending reveals that there were forces at work, all along the whole time, that were greater than Curtis's own personal instability. Whatever higher power was allowing him to see the future was also allowing him to prepare for salvation.

Edited by Persiflage, 26 February 2012 - 06:11 PM.


#39 Attica

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:42 PM


Well I agree with Jeffrey's points about the "humbled prophet." When they go underground, the "false" storm is intended to indicate a significant change or movement that has occurred. The film is largely about Chastain's character's devotion to her husband--even when he gives her every reason not to remain committed to him. Jeffrey's comments about the overcooked masculinity prophet seem appropriate as well. Much of the film bears out this emphasis--his drinking and coming home late, his keeping to himself and not being transparent, his taking matters into his own hands--his overall gruffness. Two of the most powerful moments are when he takes the equipment from work and then when his wife finds out that he has lied to her. For me, at least, the film's tension revolves just as much--if not more--around how he relates to his family in the midst of his personal crisis.

On a more personal level, I'm currently working on an essay about a personal sense of impending doom that I've struggled with since becoming a father (I have a one year old son). There is something about this increased responsibility that challenges me with a personal "apocalyptic" sense. Or, put differently, I admit to feeling some mild paranoia in my new role as a father. I also confess that much of my paranoia has subsided since I confided in my wife about some of my late-night worrying. And this last point is essential in the film.

Anyway, my point is that I take the film to be much more about these issues than about the nature of the coming storm itself. To ask what the storm "represents" in the sense of universal purpose/meaning/telos is to miss the point in this case.

The intended emphasis may be on the familial issues, but that just further emphasizes how problematic the finale is. The ending is such that it demands the whole film be examined in the light of the last few moments. You can't have prophetic visions that lead to an apocalypse without those questions coming into play. Since the film isn't designed to support that ending, the ending reduces the film to a muddled mess.

It's a shame, too, since there's a lot to admire in TAKE SHELTER.


Well the film shows that he was given prophetic warnings, that caused him and others some confusion which they eventually rejected, and then found out were true. There is no indication that these prophetic warnings weren't intended to be of benefit from a loving God. Rejecting the warnings was the people's choice, just as it was the people's choice in the Old Testament.

The film also indicates throughout that there is one mother of a storm coming.... but I don't remember any indication that nobody possibly could survive, but instead a warning for him to get ready for it. This isn't like having a huge planet crashing into the earth where everything is completely hopeless. There is hope for them. He feels called to build a Shelter to protect against the storm, but there is no indication that this shelter is the only way that people could possibly survive against the storm. In other words they now have an advantage in that they have been forewarned and have considered the whole matter....... they can now search out a form of shelter from the storm that is sufficient. I think the film leaves that door fully open, and therefore the door that they can (possibly will) survive.

The ending reveals that there were forces at work, all along the whole time, that were greater than Curtis's own personal instability. Whatever higher power was allowing him to see the future was also allowing him to prepare for salvation.



I think so.

Edited by Attica, 26 February 2012 - 06:05 PM.


#40 Ryan H.

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:47 PM

How does it muddle things?

Because it pushes the focus on to the existential, what-is-or-isn't-real questions, and to the significance of the prophecies he's been receiving, not to notions of how a family can lovingly respond to impending danger and/or great strife.

Like I said, I've had some mild paranoia since becoming a father, but my confiding in my wife regarding these things does not mean that something bad isn't going to happen...

Of course not. But this doesn't correlate too well with the prophecy/apocalypse question. TAKE SHELTER would have resolved itself more effectively had it suggested that Curtis' visions were really the outgrowth of a kind of paranoia/madness, not grounded in some vague supernatural force informing him of impending an apocalypse, and then concluded with a tragic, devastating event that, while it was in no way related to his visions, nevertheless called on him and the family to act together to save themselves using the bonds they had fashioned together through their experiences.

We all face an impending doom of sorts at some point or another--the film's about how we handle this (particularly as it relates to the familial), and it uses the prophet/apocalypse to explore this issue...

My point is that the notion of a prophet and impending apocalypse makes for a poor vehicle for an exploration of familial issues, at least as it is presented in this film. It raises too many questions that aren't about familial interaction.

Whatever higher power was allowing him to see the future was also allowing him to prepare for salvation.

Only to screw him over in the end.





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