How Hollywood Killed Death

Many Hollywood films are telling stories where people die then come back to life just moments later. In most cases, there aren’t strong explanations for why these characters make it back. Alexander Huls at the New York Times:

Perhaps this loss might seem inconsequential — maybe even welcome — to some. After all, it’s easy to argue that we seek these escapist entertainments to avoid the preoccupations of everyday life — worrying about our mortality, for example. But movies like those in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy — with their thoughts on the security state, terrorism and the power of mythology — prove that you can entertain audiences while actually commenting on the world we live in. No matter how much movies or comics depart into realities with super-powered beings, technologically advanced futures or fantastical worlds full of impossible creatures, they still need to do what all good stories should: Tell us something about being human. But most of today’s movies are telling us death doesn’t matter. And it’s hard to imagine a more inhuman observation than that.

I don’t think I would go so far as to say coming back to life in films undermines the reason to have Hollywood around, as Alexander put it, but he has an interesting point.

Comic book characters have died several times, then with great ease they come back from the dead. Sci-fi and video game characters also do this. Usually, there’s some magical relic left over from ancient aliens that makes it possible, or a biological abnormality in someone’s alien DNA that makes it a cinch to come back from the dead.

But we all know just how difficult coming back really is. So, it does feel like these summer blockbusters are watering down the significance of life and loss. Alexander makes the case this trick is belittling death in films. I want to add that it’s also making light of resurrection, which is a big deal in other ways.


Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.