Serenity

The movie “Serenity” was made for those who loved the show “Firefly” so much that, when the show was tragically canceled, begged for something to tie up the loose ends left by the show’s abrupt ending. This page will be written in three segments, each as we proceed further into the movie (class periods are too short to watch the entirety in one class), and so the posts will become increasingly more in-depth into the heart of what this movie could mean, and how it relates to other projects we’ve worked on this semester.

Entry 1: November 6, 2012

The movie begins very serenely: we see an Alliance teacher teaching a class about the history of the Alliance to a bunch of obviously well-off children outside. The children ask simple questions that the teacher seems to be answering cautiously, when we hear a voice from the back of the class that turns out to be River Tam. She says that the independents, or Browncoats, fought against the Alliance because the Alliance meddles in people’s lives. Very perceptive for a young girl, wouldn’t you think? The pace picks up quickly from there. The next scene is of when Simon breaks River out of the Alliance school that she had been imprisoned in. I personally was very pleased to see this scene, because we had heard so much about Simon breaking River out without actually seeing what happened that I enjoyed finally being able to know what happened. We then move to the Serenity, and there turns out to be a conflict between Mal and Simon about River, and her place on the crew. It ends up with Simon announcing that he and River are leaving the ship at the next planet they land on, which is the planet where Inara will be leaving the crew. Book is conspicuously absent, which leads me to believe that he had also left the ship. A very depressing beginning to the movie, to have three, possibly four, of the beloved crew members leaving Serenity.

Entry 2: November 9, 2012

The second part of “Serenity” that we watched began with River attacking everyone in a bar with beauty and elegance usually only associated with ballet. She even beats up Jayne in the process, which is rather amusing, both to me as a viewer and to Wash as part of the crew when he finds out about it later. It ends with Simon using a “safe word” on her that puts her to sleep. Mal is suspicious of this, with good reason, but he needn’t have worried: River makes sure that no one ever uses it again.

Now, this movie is so excellently done, and so brilliant in terms of plot, that I think I’ll stop here with my movie synopsis. Please keep reading (especially if you’re Dr. Woodworth) because the rest of this page will be my attempt to tie the movie “Serenity” in to all the other things you’ve seen on my blog this semester, but I suggest watching the movie if 1) you want to understand some of the things I’ll be mentioning in my third and last entry, and 2) if my brief synopses have in any way piqued your interest. Besides the fact that it’s a great movie, and well worth watching. I’ll try not to put any spoilers in, in case you read this page before you see the movie. 🙂

The theme of loyalty plays a huge role in both the show “Firefly” and the movie “Serenity”. In a few of the episodes of “Firefly”, loyalty is questioned when it comes to Jayne, and what it would take for him to sell out the crew. It is also found in Mal’s loyalty to his ship and his crew. This loyalty is actually brought into question in “Serenity”, because Mal is forced to define who his crew is, and who the passengers are, when Simon tells him in no uncertain terms that he and River are leaving. There is another point in “Serenity” when we are made to wonder whether Inara is still loyal to Mal and Serenity, though she’s on another planet. Loyalty often comes under fire, or is broken, when there are a bunch of “bad guys” who have infiltrated your base and are threatening to kill you unless you tell the people you were previously loyal to what the bad guys want you to say. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry, that’s from a later point in the movie, beyond where we watched in class. It’s also from Star Wars, interestingly enough, but I digress. Loyalty, in “Firefly”, is also defined in terms of family. In the TV series, the crew of Serenity seem close-knit and very like a family. They watch out for each other, they help each other, and they love each other. In most of the movie, though, the family begins to come apart.

And here I must leave you for now. Please, watch the movie and form your own opinions before you read mine. I shall, however, be back in another few days with the conclusion of my attempts to tie together the movie “Serenity” and the rest of the conglomeration of activities and explorations that my English class has been doing this semester. Go and enjoy.

Entry 3: November 20, 2012

You’ve probably read my attempts at comparing Firefly to Henrietta Lacks, and my attempts at comparing River to Henrietta, but it is quite striking, the similarities between Henrietta and River, and between the crew of Serenity and Henrietta’s family. Henrietta and River both end up more or less saving the world in the end: River by finding the secret of Miranda for Mal to send to the universe at large, and Henrietta by having the “miracle” cancer cells that never die but keep multiplying, allowing scientists to test cures for diseases on them. Both the crew of Serenity and Henrietta’s family made sure that River and Henrietta respectively were taken care of, and listened to, although I believe it was a bit harder for Henrietta’s family to do that, as she was dead by the time her cells were discovered. River and Henrietta were both taken advantage of by scientists, but in both cases I believe it turned out to be beneficial for all involved. Except maybe Henrietta, because, as aforementioned, she’s sort of dead.

I’m not entirely sure how I can connect the Rhetorical Murder of my teacher to Serenity. I mean, there are obviously deaths in Serenity, but no one wrote coroner’s or detective’s reports for them. Not that the people who died needed either of those reports; it was pretty obvious how they died.

The Explorations are an interesting thing to try to tie in to Serenity, as they were all about noticing things. I think I noticed more little details about the movie because I had had to pay attention to details in the explorations than I would have noticed otherwise. Of course, I can never know for certain, because the only time I’ve seen the movie was after doing the explorations, but that is my belief. I do, however, know that doing the murder and exploration projects have made me more comfortable with writing and the way I write. I can’t say how much they’ve helped me stay on topic, because I think I do still wander quite a lot, but I’ve definitely become more comfortable with writing things.

Right near the very end of Serenity, memorials are put up to those that have died, and I know I can tie this in to what it is that my class will be doing the rest of the semester. We will be finding monuments and memorials around Montgomery, and using those to make our own personal memorials, just as the crew of Serenity made their own memorials to their friends that died. I think the movie Serenity is also a memorial to Firefly, and to Joss Whedon and all the actors that made the show as brilliant as it was. And this is my small, humble memorial to them.

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