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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hellboy II: A More Jewish Demon Prince?

[Selma Blair, the most Jewish aspect of the Hellboy films]

I am an unapologetic movie lover. I see all kinds of movies. This includes much that is lowbrow, popcorn, and grindhouse quality (I just enjoyed the low-budget New Zealand camp horror film, Black Sheep). An entertaining movie is just entertaining. I even honor what I call "brilliantly stupid" cinema - films like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Dumb and Dumber. I especially love superhero films (I'm a sucker for any kind of mythology), though shockingly few are truly good films, despite the immense amounts of cash lavished on them. Indiana Jones IV, for example, continues in the stunningly mediocre tradition of IJ II. IJ III was only salvaged from the same fate by the brilliant conceit of casting Sean Connery as Indy's dad. Raiders of the Lost Ark seems to me to just have very long coattails that have managed to carry all the subsequent (with an emphasis on "sub-") films.

But I am drifting off topic. I just saw Hellboy II, which with its stunning visuals, great creatures, and refreshingly goofy humor actually excelled past its predecessor (When was the last time that happened, Alien II?). Up until now, there hasn't been much of a Jewish subtext to the character -- he's staunchly Catholic -- except that he is misunderstood and has horns (ha-maskil yavin). However, HB II took a step away from the Christian-based good vs. evil thematics that marked the first film, and took a foray into the pre-Christian traditions of fairy. Though the clear inspiration is Irish folk myth, I was struck by how the backstory (In ancient times fairies and humans struggle for control of the earth, only to settle on a truce once a super weapon is introduced, causing the spirits to retreat into the remote places of the earth) neatly resembles the medieval Jewish tradition about the conflicts between people and shedim. You can see what I'm talking about by going to my earlier entry Demon Lovers, Sword of Power: The Other Children o...

As for HB himself, sorry, no red devils with a passion for cats and big pistols for us, but for a demon lord with a good side that does appear in Jewish tradition, see:
Asmodeus, Ashmodei: King of Demons, Solomon's Alte...
Zal G'mor: To learn more, consult the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism - http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050

1 Comments:

Blogger Gondal-girl said...

Nice post - I liked the first one - I do like when films and stories play with myths....

now here is a question for you - why is Serah bat Asher sometimes associated with the Morning star...
can't find the connection....

2:52 AM  

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