Apr 13, 2011

Mythology and the Uncanny

The use of mythology has been a constant theme in our class. In Harpya(Harpy) an extremely creepy and unreal short made by Raoul Servais. In the Greek Mythology Phineas who had the gift of prophecy angered Zeus by revealing too much of the future. He was punished by being blinded and left stranded on an island with a large buffet of food which he could never eat. The harpies always swooped in and ate their fill then ruined the left-overs.

The mustachio man in Harpya hears the cry of a woman and saves her from her assailant who is choking her. Then it is revealed that she is a Harpy. Enthralled by her he takes her home to care and feed her, and much like in the tale of Phineas she eats all of his food. Yet, seemingly unsatisfied she continues to not only eat his parrot, but also his legs when he tries to escape. Ultimately unable to escape her dominion the man resorts to choking her, which leads to a policeman to intervene starting the cycle again.

It seems that this film focus is combined with the danger and allure of the femme fatale with abjection of the Freudian concept of the uncanny. The Harpy is both the combination of a woman and a raptor. Both are familiar, but when combined create a form that is unknowable, a horror. Yet the man does not recoil in terror, yet. Maybe he is initially drawn to her by her other-worldly beauty. The fact remains when the Harpy is true to her Hellenistic pedigree the man is ravaged from the waist down. The man driven by hunger and fear is left to attempt to break out of his slavery. That isn't the case as he now a cripple is stymied and is introduced to what I assume is a long list of hosts. She looks knowingly hungry like somehow it was all part of the plan. There is no relief in the harpy's eyes. Just the knowledge of survival and preservation of self.

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