School shootings through movies

The shootings in the United States They are a difficult epidemic to eradicate. The power of arms companies, staunch defenders of the second amendment to the Constitution, and easy access to firearms are the three sides of a triangle as deadly as it is incomprehensible outside US borders.

The drama is even greater when the victims are minors and it is even more so when they lose their lives within the walls of an educational center. A place where they should feel safe.

Regulars of the Soy de cine podcast will know that a server works as a teacher in an elementary school in the State of Maine. That’s why, this drama touches me more closely. I still remember the shock I felt the first time I did a mock shootout with my six-year-olds. A difficult situation to assimilate and digest.

Writing this article is a somewhat cathartic process. I believe in cinema not only as entertainment but as a powerful healing tool. A resource to explore and deal with situations that we would otherwise not be able to access.

For this reason, with the help of the seventh art, we are going to try to delve into all the points of view and realities that converge in this type of tragedy.

Society: Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore. 2002)

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The controversial filmmaker Michael Moore took advantage of the shooting at a Colorado institute to ask himself why there was so much nonsense.
This Oscar-winning and Cannes-awarded documentary mixes emotional and shocking moments with others that border on the absurd and invite reflection.
Moore interviews people with very different profiles: politicians, representatives of arms companies, musicians and people from the entertainment world.
Attention to his final meeting with Charlton Heston because it is not wasted.
In addition, the documentary provides a large amount of data that connects the political, economic and ideological powers that promote and benefit from the weapons culture in the country.
Although the film was released in 2002, unfortunately, it is still more relevant than ever.

The Entrepreneur: The Warlord (Andrew Niccol. 2005)

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While Niccol’s film isn’t explicitly about school shootings, it does deal with one aspect of school shootings, the companies that illegally manufacture and sell guns through dealers.

The film was praised by Amnesty International for putting the spotlight on a global problem that accounts for a large number of deaths each year.

The opening credits are amazing. We follow the path of a bullet from when it is built in a factory until it ends up embedded in a skull on the other side of the world. Just a couple of minutes that tell a whole story and leave you devastated.

The rest is an unscrupulous Nicolas Cage, willing to do anything to sell ammunition and weapons at any price.

The film is produced by Cage himself and financed almost entirely outside of the United States. Why will it be?

The Killers: Elephant (Gus Van Sant. 2003)

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Let’s start by saying that Van Sant’s film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

A slow-cooked narrative in which we see an ordinary day in the lives of some students. Various flashbacks give us clues as to what is going to happen. The film culminates accompanying Alex and Eric through the corridors of the institute while they open fire indiscriminately against the people who come out to meet them.

The sequence shots in which we follow both through the corridors have already become an icon for movie lovers.

The film was conceived as a documentary about the Columbine massacre but Van Sant soon decided to make it into fiction. A fiction, however, so minimalist that it is not so far removed from the documentary aesthetic.

The Columbine High School massacre had such an impact on the country that in addition to inspiring Van Sant himself and the aforementioned Moore, it was also the seed for movies like Duck! The Carbine High Massacre, Zero Day or The Only Way.

The survivors: The fallout (Megan Park. 2021)

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The film written and directed by Megan Park and starring a masterful Jenna Ortega, brings us closer to the reality of those who have survived the massacre.

With a superb opening scene in a bathroom, in which what is happening is hinted at without showing it, this story begins as emotional as it is contained.

The best thing about the film is that it doesn’t get carried away by melodrama or sensationalism when that would be the easiest thing to do. That makes the movie that much more impactful.

This is, without a doubt, one of Jenna Ortega’s best roles to date. The actress has managed to combine her work for the almighty Disney with very interesting independent projects. Here, her portrayal of a teenager who sees her world turned upside down in just a few minutes is complex and nuanced.

The Families: Mass (Fran Kranz. 2021)

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Image courtesy of La Aventura Cine

A room and four great actors. It’s the only thing Fran Kranz needs in Mass to generate a drama that breathes honesty from start to finish.

We attend as guests to an open-hearted conversation in which little by little we understand the situation of each one of them.

Two sides of the same tragedy that try to find a meeting point.

The film is completely devoid of artifice and works thanks to a superb direction by a Kranz who makes his debut behind the cameras and some exceptional actors: Reed Birney
Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Martha Plimpton.

Kranz’s own script manages the information intelligently to keep us trapped during its almost two hours of footage.

Rarity: The class (Ilmar Raag. 2007)

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It is the only one in this article that has not been made in the United States. Its country of origin is Estonia and its director, Ilmar Raag.

The movie was so popular that it spawned a seven-episode mini-series that delved even deeper into the story of its two leads.

Raag’s script explores the desperation that can drive someone to commit such a violent act. In this case, continued harassment. By taking the point of view of the people who carry out the massacre, the Estonian director invites us to reflect on the motivations that can lead to such an act.

Without justifying the act itself at any time, we are aware that in these situations there are different degrees of victims, all of them affected by a violent and unjust society that generates hatred and frustration in equal parts among all its inhabitants. Of course, the most painful victims are those who lose their lives as a result of that violence.

change engine

There are more and more voices within the United States that are raised in favor of gun control. Campaigns of all kinds that seek to raise awareness against a scourge that devastates one of the main powers in the world.

There is also Trump, of course, whose most brilliant proposal is to arm and train teachers. Something that would be anecdotal or even ridiculous, if he did not have a legion of staunch followers behind him.

A polarized society in which a large majority of the population is fed up with weapons but still has much less power than the minority that pulls the strings.

Meanwhile, we continue to applaud any type of committed art that makes visible and denounces injustice. At Soy de cine, we support and enjoy all kinds of cinema. Each movie has a different function. One of those functions, perhaps the most important, is to serve as an engine of change.

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