A tangled mass of metal scraps envelops his body completely. His transformation is complete: man has become machine. After a slow, painful transformation, the main character of the Japanese creature film, “Tetsuo: The Iron Man,” has become a heap of scrap metal.
Looking down on the city, he says in Japanese, “We can turn the world into metal.”
This was the final scene of the film shown at the Hibbleton Gallery in Fullerton as part of a series, hosted every Monday night at 8 p.m., that has been going on for almost three years. Hibbleton curator Steve Elkins started organizing these events as a way to facilitate meaningful discussions about cinema from around the world. Monday night’s movie was not typical of what is featured at the Hibbleton.
“We never really show stuff like we showed tonight, so we thought for sheer contrast it’d be kind of fun to pick a handful of monster or horror movies but try to tie them together with some history,” Elkins said.
“Tetsuo: The Iron Man” explored the larger theme of the relationships between humans and technology. It did so by using graphic and violent imagery that did not appeal to all attendees. The intense sights and sounds were necessary to communicate the inner experience of technology taking over, said Jesse La Tour, co-owner of the Hibbleton and part-time CSUF English professor.
“The very disturbing, graphic (and) intense imagery and sound, to me, represented a kind of anxiety or fear of technology and industry taking over what is natural in society,” La Tour said.
Elkins saw the movie as a foreshadowing from 1989, when it was released in Japan, on how technology has evolved into what it is today.
“It’s sort of a premonition of now, with our phones and the internet, and how much that is becoming a part of our inner selves and how physically we’ll probably become more literally connected with those technologies, just like in the movie,” Elkins said.
Fullerton resident Judith Kaluzny has been attending the series since March. She said last night’s movie did not appeal to her.
“I thought it was a collection of scenes all stuck together, and the sound was very annoying,” Kaluzny said.
Despite finding this film to be a poor choice for the night, she said last week’s film moved her and the guests she brought, and she’ll be back next week to see what film is chosen.
Before the main feature, clips and previews of several other creature films were shown to the 10 audience members. After the main feature, there was a discussion about the influence of technology on humans. Both the negative and positive effects of technologies on society were explored. One of the moviegoers questioned the epidemic of being so plugged in and the effect it has on the brains of young people, and whether the obsession of today’s society would go away.
Another audience member countered that youngsters who play a lot of video games are familiar with technology and will be better equipped for certain jobs.
Elkins and La Tour want people to be able to get together and talk about different interpretations and experiences with regard to the films.
“Everyone in the room is watching a different movie in a way, because you bring your own experiences to the movie you’re watching, and I like that we get to be a bunch of mirrors for each other,” Elkins said.
In the three years Elkins has curated the series, he has showcased films from all over the world. La Tour said there have been months dedicated to films from countries that are not well known for their cinema industry like Iran, Mexico and Morocco. Other months have been devoted to specific directors or themes like memory.
The month of April will showcase Japanese cinema; next week will feature a 1952 film by director Kenji Mizoguchi.