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Textual Analysis on the Movie The Boondock Saints

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The Boondock Saints is an action film directed by Troy Duffy. It tells the story of the Irish twins, who become vigilantes accidentally by killing two Russian mobsters. Afterward they decided that cleaning up Boston streets from crime and evil by killing bandits and drug dealers one by one was their calling by God. Police and FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker persuade the twins and their friend who have joined them, but as the investigation goes, FBI agent begins to doubt and think that they are doing the right thing. The Boondock Saints shows a contradiction between religious faith and the thrill of the murder in the name of one’s beliefs, vigilantism, altruism and ultra-violence as a tool for good of mankind, sinners and saints. This movie became a cult film of the 2000th.

The Boondock Saints opens with a mass in a grand Catholic church. Our eye is attached on a huge crucifix and a priest behind it who holds his arms alike. The crucifix and the priest are in the center of the screen, and people are standing on both sides. The lightning and the dominant red color which symbolizes love and blood of Christ; the camera movement from up to down or from the left to right also helps to make an impression of magnificence and power of influence that church always have had.   The twins, Connor and Murphy McManus, are sitting among other people. The strange stares of a little girl say us that we should be aware of these men. Suddenly, at the beginning of the priest’s speech, the twins wake up and approach the altar to kiss the feet of a rood. The ecclesiastic continues his speech. The camera focuses on other clergymen that do not know how to react.  The next priest’s words about Kitty Genovese prove that church cannot affect people to live righteously no more:

This poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away (Duffy 1999).

As the twins are about to go out the church, the priest says, “Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.” (Duffy 1999). Connor and Murphy McManus wear sunglasses and exit. They stand one by one showing their similar tattoos of Madonna, and light the cigarettes. Connor says, “I do believe the Monsignor’s finally got the point.” (Duffy 1999). 

Troy Duffy uses different ways to convey the motion. Talking about motion analysis, during the film the director keeps the camera mostly far from action to make a feeling of watching events from the outsider’s viewpoint. The movements in all scenes are quite naturalistic, but a lot of them are lyrical: for instance, the scene of investigation of two murdered Russian mobsters is accompanied by aria “Si, mi chiamano Mimi” from the opera “La Bohem” written by Puccini what creates the lyric atmosphere despite the fact that police and FBI agent are at the crime scene. The director also applies the slow motion for another scene of investigation where FBI agent imagines himself beside the killers at the moment of crime. Therefore, Troy Duffy in his film conveys the motion through the number of ways.

Original music to The Boondock Saints was written by Jeff Danna. Additionally, there was music from the outside sources.

The analyzed film casts Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as twin-brothers Connor and Murphy McManus. Both of them are well-known film stars. These actors have created a great memorable duet. Willem Defoe, with his incredible acting abilities, plays a gay Special FBI Agent whose name is Paul Smecker. The acting style of performance is quite stylized. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery were casted as they look alike. Nobody except Defoe could play Paul Smecker so brightly, memorable and talented.

Costumes are appropriate to the time of when the film was making (the late 1990th) to the age of characters. All the costumes are casual. McManus brothers have special accessories – wooden necklaces with crosses.

Talking about The Boondock Saints’ analysis, the story here “tells itself.” The director uses flashbacks to make its flow more captivating. Moreover, he mixes flashbacks with slow motion in the scenes of murders or investigation. There is a very interesting method that was used in the end of the film: it finishes with interviews of Boston citizens answering the question, “Are the Saints ultimately good or evil?”

All the dialogues in the picture sound like realistic. A word “fuck” was used more than 200 times. The main characters also use quotations from the Bible what makes dialogues more stylized. For example, the dialogue of Connor, Murphy and Il Duce in the scene of executing Yakavetta is literary stylized and creates the needed contrast between the three Saints and Mafioso:

Connor, Murphy, Il Duce: And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand. 
Yakavetta: Vaffanculo! (Fuck you) 
Connor, Murphy, Il Duce: That our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be. 
Il Duce: In nomine Patri. 
Connor: Et Fili. 
Murphy: Spiritus Sancti. (Duffy 1999).

The story is told from the outsider’s point of view, thus it makes the audience watch the characters and events clear. However, in true, it reminds a fairy tale because of a lot of inexactitudes and mystic and a kind of fairy-tale events.

Religion in The Boondock Saints plays a very interesting role. The film does not call everybody to go to the church each Sunday. Religion appears as a codex of morality of the whole mankind.  Murphy and Connor say, “Do not kill. Do not rape. Do not steal. These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace. These are not polite suggestions. These are codes of behavior, and those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost.” (Duffy 1999).

Women in Duffy’s movie are slightly mentioned. The two women that appear in the scene in Rocco’s house both are addicts. Other females seen through the film are prostitutes or strip dancers. Mother of the twins mentions only one time, and she was the only good woman in the film. A lack of female characters in The Boondock Saints creates an impression of the cruel man’s world. 

There is a theme concerning gayness in the film.  FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker is a gay. There is even the scene where he lies in a bed with his lover. Other policemen sometimes joke about gays when Paul Smecker is nearby. The purpose of the film is not to abuse but support gays as people with equal rights.

In analyzing the ideology of The Boondock Saints, it is important to determine how explicit it is in differentiation the bad guys from the good ones. At the first sight, it seems very simple: the brothers McManus and their friends are good, and the Mafiosi and their bandits are bad. But if one thinks a bit more about all the characters, he or she will notice that the McManus are not so saint. They kill other people whom they determined as “bad” no matter if those “bad” ones possibly have families and children. They undertook law enforcement without legal authority. FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker as a representative of the law does not resist the vigilantism of the Saints and even helps them to avoid punishment. Thus police becomes inadequate. The citizens of Boston just talk and judge on words. People forgot the government and police were made by the people and for the people, so there must be no need in vigilantism. Persons, government and police should work together on judging the mobsters and never separate.

The cult film The Boondock Saints touches very important themes on religion, vigilantism and law, good and evil among others. The director Troy Duffy uses various methods that make the story of The Boondock Saints a really captivating. This film calls on people not to forget the main coders of behavior that were stated in the Bible.

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