Eli; An Expressionist Narrative

Synopsis: Eli Miller is a young boy suffering from a rare disease that causes severe allergic reactions to the outdoors, forcing him to live his life in protective gear. Rose and Paul, his parents, have taken him to a secluded medical facility managed by Dr. Isabella Horn’s, a large, The clinic management has modernized and quarantined an old house to use it as an isolated center for experimental treatments. Allowing Eli to remove his “bubble suit” inside the facility is a great joy for him, He embraces his parents, and enjoy the freedom previously denied to him. But his joy is not long-lasting. He begins to experience horrifying supernatural phenomena in the facility. At the same time, doctors begin his extremely painful treatments. He sees specters who repeatedly leave him the message lie on the window, and Eli suspects if they are trying to warn him about the horrific treatments by doctors…

Eli, for some viewers and critics, may sound like a cheat because the ending of the movie tells an opposite story. A story that nobody could guess. However, it is very successful to reveal the information about Eli and his family little by little like a police story that details are being revealed gradually. Eli doesn’t mislead the viewers but narrates the whole story from Eli’s view. We get the same amount of information as Eli gets and that’s why we get surprised at the end like him.

Eli is a brilliant example of expressionism in cinema. Expressionist movies or literature shows and narrates the story from the point of view of a character or narrator. The classic example is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) by Robert Wiene and the post-modern one is the Europa by Lars Von Trier.

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In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, we see the monster created by Dr. Caligari kills people for him but at the final scene of the movie, we find out that the whole story is being told by a maniac in a madhouse. The same surprise happens in Eli when he understands that he is the evil in the story.

This style of story-telling conveys the suspense of the characters to the viewers and keeps them following the story to the end. That is why it is the best choice for writing a police story or making a mystery movie. Besides that, this choice allows the director to tell a repetitious story of good and evil and exorcism in a new way that attracts smarter viewers.

There is a tendency in recent decades to present children and teenagers as a threat to the world. Brightburn (2019), Umbrella Academy (2019), Orphan (2009), Let the Right One In (2008) and many other movies are showing kids are the threat to humans or the whole world. The contrast between the innocent faces of kids and evil things they do in the movies is attractive but cinema has always been predicting the future. So we have to wait and see what will be done by kids in the 21st century.

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