Sunday, September 23, 2007

Constantine (2005) & Half-Breeds (Spoiler Warning)

I like the movie Constantine (2005). Yes, I know Keaneu Reaves is in it and it's not as good as the comic book, blah blah blah. I've read some of the comic and it's badly drawn and the hero is supposed to look like Sting. The movie doesn't commit those sins, so it's a leg up.

This movie is part of a genre I particularly like - vampire hunting movies, something I wrote about in the older blog. "Vampire hunting" is not exclusive to vampires but to any bad thing hunted by People With The Knowledge. So Constantine joins movies like Blade II, Hellboy, Vampires, Aliens and Ghostbusters. What separates the Vampire Hunter genre from the pissant Horror Film is the amount of power and know-how given to humanity. In a horror film, the villain is so monstrous that people are overpowered, outmatched, and one talented person is little more than prey (and/or lunch).

Vampire Hunting movies are where the Villain of the horror movie is hunted by people who have learned how to kill 'em. It's a satisfying, even uplifting, genre. Horror makes you feel bad to be human; VH makes you proud.

Often, the VH movies are mostly supernatural (e.g. Blade, Ghostbusters), the rest are sci-fi (Aliens). The supernatural ones often use some mishmash of Catholicism and cheap Kabbalah, especially when they involve Demons and Angels. Constantine is no exception, but even with sci-fi they make up their rules when they need to.

Constantine has as it's central plot-point a major league invention which, alas, the movie does not adequately explain (when it's not contradicting itself). Every review online mentions that psychics (like our eponymous hero) can see "half-breeds" and that the hero's self-appointed job is to deport transgressing half-breeds back to hell.

What are the half-breeds (hereafter "HB") and how do they compare to demons and angels? Dunno. The movie is filled with satisfying mumbo jumbo about The Rules (a genre defining characteristic - all Vampire Hunting movies require the establishment of the rules, not only to give the movie an understructure, but to prove that humanity's great gift of reason can be used to kick keister). But the status of the Half Breed is left murky... which is a problem because the whole plot depends on this question.

The best thing I can do is analyze the facts given in the movie and to search online (especially for the question "What is a half-breed")

Facts from the Movie
  1. The good HB are shown by having blue eyes, bad HB with red. This may be in addition to when - using the special psychic sight - they are shown as having wings or demonic faces (cf. the liquor store aftermath).
  2. In Midnite's bar, we see bad-HB eating what looks like a person, and a good HB making water into wine, and a good HB snogging a bad HB. This stuff could just be what it means to be on neutral territory.
  3. Balthazar is established as a HB. He has red-eyes, he's shown as demon face.
  4. Balthazar says "fire?! I was born of this!" when hit by dragons-breath.
  5. In that same scene, Bal seems to consider Hell is home.
  6. Constantine, Angela, Hennesy & Midnite are all psychics and not considered HB
  7. Constantine 'deports' demons either through exorcisms (which could be how bad HB are created), or through destroying them with his cool weapons.
  8. Chaz says that HB's will have their outer shell damaged by holy-water
  9. the Scavenger finds the spear of destiny and is possessed by it - not a freewill action - yet he leads all the bad HB. Unclear, here, of the distinction.
  10. The bad HB speak 'hellspeak' - another proof they're demonic.
  11. Gabriel is called a half-breed, yet has the powers we associate with an Angel and seems to know Lucifer personally (and professionally) as one of the Host. Being called a half-breed may just refer to the fact that Gabriel's mission is on earth.
  12. The big rule is 'The Balance' - that heaven and hell cannot interfere directly in human affairs. A second big rule is that demons can't cross over into our 'plane' (but they do a bunch of times in the movie; suggesting either that the rule is wrong or that the rule is part of the Balance).

Conclusion: A Half-Breed may just be a specific type of demon that hides in a human shell so it can do hell's work... just as a half-breed angel is a real Angel just in human form. They aren't real people. The term is not about their parentage (as some have suggested, e.g. calling them Nephilim as in Gen. 6); Constantine says "I call them Half-Breeds" but it's a confusing term (like he cares). The rules state that neither side can interfere, but they WANT to interfere, so they do so by inhabiting a human form and 'whisper' in the ears of humanity. But demons, being evil, constantlyt break the rules. Simple rule breaking (e.g. directly interfering with humanity, like when Balzathar KILLS somebody) will get you deported. If a demon is on our plane, then that's a major rule break. As we see from the end of the film, Lucifer honors the agreement (by not letting his son take over). How did the full demons get to romp around all through the film? They were being protected by an Angel: Gabriel.

Backpost, from March.

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